Are You Emotionally Fit?
September 19, 2019
Physical fitness gets a lot of attention and for good reason. It can literally keep the doctor away by preventing obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other diseases that are caused by unhealthy lifestyles. However, being physically fit is only half the battle; the other half is emotional fitness.
What is Emotional Fitness?
Do you ever wish you could bounce back from stressful experiences a bit faster?
That’s emotional fitness in a nutshell. It’s the ability to bounce back from adversity, manage negative emotions and maintain a positive outlook on life.
People who are emotionally fit have a sense of contentment and zest for life. They’re open to change and learning new things, and are better at building and maintaining relationships. Lastly, they have high self-esteem and confidence.
Becoming Emotionally Fit
Your mind, just like your body, needs to be trained in order to stay fit. Becoming emotionally fit requires as much discipline and dedication as becoming physically fit.
Taking care of your body is one of the easiest ways to take care of your emotional health. For instance, exercise is known to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and negative emotions, and improve self-esteem. Physical activity produces feel-good hormones such as endorphins and enkephalins, which can make even the biggest problems seem more manageable.
Exercise also increases blood flow to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that’s responsible for emotion regulation. Exercise stimulates the creation of new hippocampal neurons, which increase your mental flexibility and ability to process new information.
Research shows that a healthy sleep schedule can reduce emotional distress and aggression and influence memory and decision-making. It’s much easier to reframe an emotional event and recalibrate your response when you’re well-rested.
Though the exact mechanism through which sleep influences emotions remains a mystery, scientists think it may have something to do with the fact that sleep reduces activity in the amygdala, the emotional center of the brain.
The first thing you reach for when you’re sad is comfort food, probably. However, there’s a strong link between unhealthy food and bad mood. Food allergies, intolerances, and vitamins or mineral deficiencies can alter moods and aggravate mental health issues. Similarly, high blood sugar makes you irritable, while low blood sugar makes you lethargic. The last thing you need when you’re in the middle of a difficult situation is to feel irritated or lethargic.
However, cutting out unhealthy comfort foods cold turkey is difficult for most people. Instead, slowly start substituting unhealthy foods with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Social Connections
Being socially isolated isn’t good for your emotional health. Therefore, spending time with loved ones, joining a club, and volunteering can help you stay emotionally balanced. Volunteers experience what’s known as the “helpers high.” So if you want to feel good, help someone.
If you’re going through a huge emotional event and are having trouble functioning at work or home, seek professional help. Sometimes all you need is someone to point you in the right direction and give you the tools you need to manage your emotions more effectively.
Emotional fitness doesn’t just happen automatically. It’s up to you to take care of you! And a good place to start is by incorporating one or more of these five tips into your lifestyle.