What Are Emotions?
Emotions are sensations that are closely linked with the arousal of the nervous system. They are linked to experiences, both real or imagined and are usually in response to thoughts and beliefs. Emotions are distinct from sensory experiences (hearing, sight, smell, touch, taste) but may affect sensory experience, perception, memory and attention because of their close association with pleasure and displeasure.
Emotions form an integral part of our existence as they are an important prompt for action and influence much of our thoughts and behaviours. The way in which we experience emotions is a combination of nature and nurture. While we have a certain temperament when we are born, our social environment has an immense effect on how we experience and express our emotions. For example, some children may be born more fearful than others, and some more easily provoked into fits of laughter. What is considered to be an appropriate emotional response, however, depends on the environment and culture in which we find ourselves. For example, while in some cultures wailing and beating one’s chest at a funeral may be considered disordered, in other cultures it is acknowledged as a natural expression of grief.
Most importantly, emotions are the basis of connecting – to each other, our environment and the earth. They define much of who we are, what we do, how we see the world, and the ways in which we interact. So instead of shying away from emotions, let us embrace and learn more about them.
As discussed in the emotional health section, some emotions are pleasant to experience and some unpleasant. Regardless of whether an emotion feels pleasant or unpleasant, it is normal and important to have the capacity to feel a range of emotions. Sometimes it may seem difficult for us to deal with certain emotional states, particularly the unpleasant ones. We have listed some common emotional states that we experience in our everyday lives, show how they affect us and the strategies we can use to deal with them.
Click below to learn more about specific emotions and best practices on how to deal with them: