Improve your emotional health

Whenever we want to get in shape, look a little better in our clothing, lower our "bad" cholesterol, or lower our risk of cardiovascular disease, we all know to turn to exercise. But exercise isn't just useful for increasing our physical fitness....

Exercise can also do wonders to increase our emotional fitness as well. Evidence is mounting that exercise can have beneficial effects on the symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulty.

AND...Exercise to combat stress, anxiety, and/or depression doesn't have to be intense. A little light exercise on a regular basis may be enough to do the trick. The idea is to just get moving. Take a short walk after lunch or after dinner for about 15-30 minutes. Or lift some weights to help reduce stress and anxiety. You don't have to start training for the marathon or bulking up like a body builder to see positive effects on your mood from exercise.

How can I improve my emotional health?

First, try to recognize your emotions and understand why you are having them. Sorting out the causes of sadness, stress and anxiety in your life can help you manage your emotional health. The following are some other helpful tips.

Express your feelings in appropriate ways. If feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping these feelings inside can make you feel worse. It’s OK to let your loved ones know when something is bothering you. However, keep in mind that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with your feelings appropriately. At these times, ask someone outside the situation--such as your family doctor, a counselor or a religious advisor--for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.

Live a balanced life. Try not to obsess about the problems at work, school or home that lead to negative feelings. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be happy when you feel stressed, anxious or upset. It’s important to deal with these negative feelings, but try to focus on the positive things in your life too. You may want to use a journal to keep track of things that make you feel happy or peaceful. Some research has shown that having a positive outlook can improve your quality of life and give your health a boost. You may also need to find ways to let go of some things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Make time for things you enjoy.

Develop resilience. People with resilience are able to cope with stress in a healthy way. Resilience can be learned and strengthened with different strategies. These include having social support, keeping a positive view of yourself, accepting change and keeping things in perspective.

Calm your mind and body. Relaxation methods, such as meditation, are useful ways to bring your emotions into balance. Meditation is a form of guided thought. It can take many forms. For example, you may do it by exercising, stretching or breathing deeply. Ask your family doctor for advice about relaxation methods.

Take care of yourself. To have good emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body by having a regular routine for eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and exercising to relieve pent-up tension. Avoid overeating and don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. Using drugs or alcohol just causes other problems, such as family and health problems.

source: Mind/Body Connection: How Your Emotions Affect Your Health