Effective communication is one of the keys to being successful in many different areas of our lives, from maintaining relationships to furthering a career. It can result in fewer conflicts, more meaningful conversations and better productivity. But what’s the link between good communication and mental health?
While bad communication skills can have a direct, negative impact on our mental health, being able to better manage the way in which we talk (and as importantly, listen) to people can bring about improvements in our wellbeing. In this post, we explore how communication can impact mental health in different aspects of our lives.
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What does it mean to manage your communication?
We communicate in a number of different ways, and there are several aspects to effective communication that should be considered when looking to improve or manage yours. Firstly, non-verbal forms of communication can often be the most influential in terms of how you present yourself to other people. It’s commonly believed that at least half of our communication is done through body language, so no matter how good a talker or listener you are, honing this vital skill is key to improving relationships in all different areas of your life.
Of course, we must also consider the verbal aspects that can clearly determine how positive or negative an interaction may be. When it comes to communication and mental health, the things we say (or don’t say) often have the biggest bearing on the way in which we feel. When we look to better manage our communication, we’re taking strides to actively improve relationships and take care of our emotions, so it’s a crucial area to focus on.
Whether you’re a business owner or employee, the way in which we communicate at work will directly impact performance, productivity, morale, development and professional relationships. All of these areas have the potential to directly impact mental wellbeing; over time, if we allow these issues to fester, you’ll likely start to notice an impact both inside and out of the workplace.
To improve our communication in professional settings, there are several things we can do. One of the most vital steps to take is setting boundaries with colleagues, clients and yourself. Especially when working from home, it’s easy to fall into the trap of responding to emails or calls after your working hours, but doing so presents a danger to your wellbeing, since you’ll never truly switch off from work.
Look to utilise tools that can help you to manage out-of-hours communications, and ensure you communicate your personal boundaries with colleagues in terms of timings, to manage people’s expectations and help you to relax when you’re not at your desk.
We’re social beings, and as such our personal relationships have a huge impact on our wellbeing. It’s important we’re able to talk openly to people we trust, be that family members, friends or a partner. Being able to openly express emotions and needs can contribute to increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence, which further boosts our wellness.
When it comes to interpersonal relationships, miscommunication can cause the breakdown of these bonds, making us feel more isolated from our support network. At the same time, effective communication could allow you to speak openly about the way you’re feeling, minimising the burden of bottling up thoughts and emotions that could be harming your wellbeing. We all have our own communication preferences, but finding an approach that works for you will promote healthier relationships and ultimately improve your personal wellbeing.
It’s just as important to consider the way in which we talk to ourselves as it is the way we communicate with other people. We all have an internal dialogue, and that voice that’s only heard inside our heads has the power to strongly influence our mood, personality and entire outlook. Often when people are experiencing high levels of anxiety or low moods, this internal voice can become increasingly unhelpful, exacerbating the negative feelings that can determine our overall wellbeing.
There are plenty of ways we can manage this internal dialogue. Most importantly, don’t try to ignore or shut out these negative thoughts. Instead, notice they’re there and try to make a conscious effort to park them as you focus on other more productive thoughts. This can be practised through mindfulness techniques, whereby you’re able to position yourself in the present moment, rather than getting swept up in anxious or depressive thoughts.
Communication is key
Talking can sometimes be the hardest thing to do, especially when you’re already struggling. However, you can prioritise your mental health by making a concerted effort to improve your communication skills, to promote more meaningful interactions in all different areas of your life.