Minds Need Exercise, Too
How to care for your mental health (as much as you do your physical health).
Physical health is fairly easy to recognize. Mental/emotional health, which refers to psychological wellbeing, however, can be much harder to pinpoint. It’s a multifaceted concept that includes the way we feel about ourselves, the quality of our relationships, our ability to modulate difficult feelings like anger, disappointment and frustration, and our effectiveness in managing difficult circumstances.
Emotionally healthy people face challenges and will have periods of sadness, anxiety and stress. In these situations, they have the tools to cope with difficult situations while maintaining a positive, hopeful outlook so they ultimately feel in control of their emotions and behaviors. They build strong relationships and recover well from setbacks. These skills can be developed and honed with practice and regular training, much like muscles in the body strengthening with exercise. Here are six daily exercises to improve emotional health:
- Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet and get enough rest. Physical health is closely connected to its mental/emotional counterpart.
- Do things you enjoy and be around people you like. Being aware of our happiness, satisfaction and accomplishments while pursuing activities we enjoy releases endorphins.
- Make important relationships a daily priority. Having a strong social network improves emotional health and reduces risk for depression and anxiety. Develop a supportive and reciprocal relationship with someone who listens to you and supports you.
- Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Set aside a few minutes to think about the things you’re grateful for.
- Build resiliency and grit. These keep individuals focused, creative and flexible when facing adversity and help us bounce back more quickly from setbacks
- Ask for professional help. Keep in mind that, sometimes, our own efforts to improve our circumstances or our emotional health aren’t effective.