Our days are filled with feelings, even if you don’t notice them. We get excited to eat as we pour syrup on our pancakes, we feel loved when we get a hug from a member of our family, and we feel nervous when we’re running late for work.
Emotions are a normal and important part of life, even emotions that we consider negative like nervousness, fear or guilt. They help us make decisions, tell us when something is wrong and protect us. Without our feelings, our lives would feel a lot less whole. But when our feelings get in the way of our everyday lives and our relationships, it’s a good indicator that a doctor should help you assess your emotional fitness. The team at the Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis wants you to learn about emotional fitness, help you notice when you should seek help, and create a plan to stay emotionally fit moving forward.
What is emotional fitness?
Just like your lungs and heart need exercise and a well-rounded diet to stay healthy, your brain also requires care and attention. Understanding your feelings and how they impact your life is emotional fitness. Everyone experiences life differently, so there isn’t one set of feelings that make someone emotionally fit. Instead, emotional fitness is your ability to notice when your feelings move from normal and productive to unhelpful or dangerous.
What are signs I should seek help?
It is really important to seek help if your feelings start to concern you. But sometimes, it’s hard to realize when your feelings have become harmful or dangerous. If you feel any of the following ways, we strongly encourage you seek help as soon as possible, either through the Wellness and Stress Clinic or through another health care provider:
- When you feel emptiness or sadness that does not go away.
- When your feelings change your eating or sleeping habits.
- When you have less energy to do things you used to do easily.
- When you stop caring about things you used to love.
- If you ever have thoughts of suicide or self-harm – seek immediate medical counsel.
What can I do to stay more emotionally fit in the future?
Want to take a more active role in your emotional fitness? It’s time to create a fitness routine. Just like you make plans to walk for 30 minutes a day or eat one meal filled with vegetables, you can create habits that keep you more emotionally fit. Here are a few things you can do to get started:
- Name your feelings. Do you know what feelings you typically experience in a day? Start writing them down as you feel them. Naming your feelings will help you track patterns and notice when your emotions are abnormal.
- Focus on your physical fitness. Did you know that emotional and physical fitness are connected? When you exercise regularly, make healthy eating choices and get enough rest, you will likely feel better! To become more emotionally fit, make physical fitness a priority.
- Talk about your feelings. Sometimes when we feel anxious or nervous, it is helpful to say our worries out loud. Sharing with a loved one can help you process what you’re feeling and put your thoughts into a new perspective. But you don’t have to have someone to listen for this to be effective! Saying our feelings out loud is helpful to process them, especially when our worries or fears are starting to spiral. If you have a pet you can share with them, or you can spend some time talking about how you’ve felt throughout the day as you eat dinner or take a shower. You may find that saying what you feel out loud helps you feel better!
- Start a meditation practice. Taking time in the day to sit quietly and breathe can do wonders for your emotional fitness. Even spending five minutes with your eyes closed and focusing on your breath can change your perspective on the day. People meditate differently, so you can try a couple different styles to find one that works for you!