When we think about fitness, we tend to think about our physical strength. While working out can be an important component in our lives, there’s another aspect of our being that deserves its own fitness routine: our emotions.
Prioritizing mental health by focusing on emotional fitness is crucial for our overall well-being.
What is emotional fitness?
With a heavy societal focus on physical fitness, our mental and emotional fitness often go left untouched. Emotional fitness, to put it simply, is the idea that our minds need regular exercise and training the same way that our bodies do. While our fitness routines help keep our bodies in shape and fit, by finding our own emotional fitness routines, we can hone in on our mental health just the same.
When we want to strengthen our bodies to meet various fitness goals and lead a healthier lifestyle, we find routines and regimes that work best for our specific needs and preferences. The same thing goes for when we want to strengthen our minds and work on our emotional health. For us to live a wholly healthy life, we have to adopt consistent habits and practices that support our emotional and mental wellbeing, not just our physical.
Emotional fitness and emotional intelligence, while seemingly similar in sound, do not set out to achieve the same thing. Emotional intelligence means that if we become smarter about our emotions and learn more about them, we can have a healthier emotional life. It’s based on understanding, rather than specific routines that help us achieve a level of mental fitness.
What benefits does it have on our mental health?
It’s easy to think about the benefits we’d see and feel after partaking in physical fitness. It may be more difficult to recognize the benefits that we may see from our own emotional fitness routines though. As you embark on this version of a fitness journey and decide what habits you may adopt in your new routine, it’s always important to know what’s waiting for you on the other end of the finish line and the goals that you are working towards as you pick up some new habits.
First and foremost, emotional fitness can prepare us for a life where we have an increased amount of self-awareness and mindfulness above all else. This bleeds into our relationships, not only with the people in our lives but with ourselves as well. As we begin to build a relationship with our emotions step-by-step through our emotional fitness routine, it allows us to take a deeper look at how we are feeling instead of just reacting to them.
It doesn’t just stop at observing our own emotions but also managing the emotions that arise in our personal relationships so you can find healthier steps to working through them versus any previous reactions that may not have landed you on the emotionally healthy chart.
Naturally, working on our emotional fitness is going to affect our feelings of being overwhelmed and the regular stress and anxiety that we may feel daily. Stress, as we know, can be unavoidable at times, but it’s not something that has to be treated after it has happened. By becoming more emotionally fit, we can begin to further understand what triggers the stress within ourselves and make us more aware of these moments to prevent our bodies from responding to stress. How we respond to anxiety can work in a similar way to our bodies’ gut reaction to stress. By training our minds to not have negative feelings towards its emotional reactions. By fearing these reactions, we create a cycle that drums up more anxieties and it can become never-ending.
What can we do to improve our emotional fitness?
Being able to maintain emotional fitness follows a similar structure to our physical fitness, just with different activities to hone in our mental strength.
Acknowledge that your emotions exist
If we don’t acknowledge that our emotions exist, how are we supposed to identify what is invoking that feeling from us? We have to start at the root of the issue before attempting to continue on our emotional fitness journey. Being able to simply acknowledge these negative emotions allows you to tune into your deepest self and listen to what these thoughts are trying to tell you about the moment that triggered them. It’s not about erasing our emotions, after all — it’s about finding what external factor is causing them in the first place.
Categorize your feelings
Now that we know to acknowledge the feelings that exist within our emotional range and are beginning to pay closer attention to them, we can continue to advance in our routine. By paying attention, we actually begin an internal management process. As we experience a variety of thoughts and feelings, try to place each in the bucket where they belong. If you understand the emotion that you’re feeling and why that specific stress response may have been caused, it can lead our body to complete its natural stage of stress relief as our cortisol levels begin to fall.
Allow yourself breaks
This goes for so many different aspects of our lives. As you embark on your emotional fitness journey, give yourself grace and allow yourself, and take an emotional break. Rather than reacting straight away to something that you know may not end well, take a step back as a learning lesson. We have the power to not act on every single emotion we feel and instead, can remain calm. There is no shortage of situations that we can react to in the future that may invoke a specific emotion out of us and it’s up to us to control what we do and do not react to.