10 strategies for emotional fitnessMental health · May 13, 2020
Most of us experience a range of emotions in life. But what’s the secret to using our emotions to our advantage, and preventing negative thoughts from standing in our way?
TELUS Health Care Centres’ mental health director Dr. Mary Ross recommends these 10 strategies for fine-tuning your emotional fitness:
Learn to recognize when you are stressed. Perhaps you start to feel restless, or lose your appetite. Everyone experiences stress differently, so it’s important to learn how you react in order to manage your emotions effectively.
Understand your environment. There are many areas of your life that can impact your emotions, including work, family or extra-curricular activities. Pinpoint the primary source that has a negative impact and use it as a starting point for change.
Become aware of your own needs. You are a unique individual, and your priorities will be different than someone else’s. Regularly assess what is important to you and focus on meeting those needs first.
Find the “right” amount of stress. A small amount of stress does actually act as a motivator to achieve our goals. However, there is a point where too much has the reverse (negative) impact on our overall wellbeing. Work toward finding that balance.
Express your feelings. When you allow your emotions to build up internally, it’s harder to allow yourself to let go. Try to find an outlet for release, whether it’s chatting with a friend, exercising, singing, or maybe even painting.
Explore different ways to cope with stress. Stress management can take on many forms, so don’t be afraid to try out more than one. Consider adjusting your perception or preconceived notions, or removing yourself completely from a stressful environment.
Practice meditation. This doesn’t have to mean sitting with your legs crossed and candles lit around a dark room. You can practice meditating by walking, practicing yoga, listening to music or drawing. The important thing is that you take time in a solo environment for some down time to clear your head of negative thoughts and focus on the task at hand.
Accept or let it go. It’s not healthy to hang on to negative emotions for long periods of time. Try not to focus on the negatives, instead, concentrate on the positives. Find a way to let go of the bad and hold on to the good.
Know the difference between burnout and stress. Burnout is a state beyond stress, when there is a sense of hopelessness about being able to alleviate stress. If you think that you’re past the point of simply being stressed, it might be time to speak to a professional.
Be willing to seek out help when you need it. One of the most challenging ideas can be recognizing when you can’t accomplish something alone. Look to friends and family or reach out to a professional who will be able to guide you back on the right path.
Remember: becoming emotionally fit doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, effort and a good support system. It’s also important to build a relationship with your family physician or psychologist so that you feel comfortable talking to them about challenges you’re facing when they arise.