01 Mar Managing Your Emotions to Increase Your Chances of Success
By Donna M. Jenkins, MHA, BHCM, RMA, CPT (Size Wize Fitness Coach)
Many of you will look at the topic of this article and dismiss it because you feel that you have your emotions well under control and contribute your lack of success in reaching your health and fitness goals to a lack of time, the program itself and even your overwhelming obligations to your family, friends and career. The blame is most often placed on the external factors that you may face instead of the internal factors that truly drive the outcomes of your success or should I say “lack of it.”
Let’s look into this a little further with a few choice questions.
- What is good emotional health?
People who have good emotional health are aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They have learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of life. They feel good about themselves and have healthy relationships. However, many things that happen in your life can disrupt your emotional health and lead to strong feelings of sadness, stress or anxiety. Being laid off from your job, getting a job promotion, having a child leave or return home, dealing with the death of a loved one, getting divorced or married, suffering an illness or an injury, experiencing money problem, moving to a new home or even having a baby can all affect your emotional health, either good or bad but they do have an effect.
“Good” changes can be just as stressful as “bad” changes.
- How can my emotions affect my health?
Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. This is often called the “mind/body connection.” When you are stressed, anxious or upset, your body tries to tell you that something isn’t right. For example, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer might develop after a particularly stressful event, such as the death of a loved one.
It is important to be able to identify physical signs that your emotional health is out of balance such as: Back pain, change in appetite, chest pain, constipation or diarrhea, dry mouth, extreme tiredness, general aches and pains, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia (trouble sleeping), lightheadedness, palpitations (the feeling that your heart is racing), sexual problems, shortness of breath, stiff neck, sweating, upset stomach, weight gain or loss and a general lack of motivation. Furthermore, poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system, making you more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times. When you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, you may not take care of your health as well as you should. You may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or taking medicine that your doctor prescribes and even indulge in the abuse of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs that may further complicate matters and worsen your emotional health.
- Why does my doctor need to know about my emotions?
You may not be used to talking to your doctor about your feelings or problems in your personal life. But remember, he or she can’t always tell that you’re feeling stressed, anxious or upset just by looking at you. It’s important to be honest with your doctor if you are having these feelings. First, he or she will need to make sure that other health problems aren’t causing your physical symptoms. If your symptoms aren’t caused by other health problems, you and your doctor can address the emotional causes of your symptoms. Your doctor may suggest ways to treat your physical symptoms while you work together to improve your emotional health. If negative feelings overwhelm you to the point that they keep you from enjoying life, it’s especially important for you to talk to your doctor. You may have what doctors call “major depression” which is in fact a medical illness that can be treated with individualized counseling, medicine or with both.
- How can I improve my emotional health?
The first step is to try to recognize your emotions and understand why you are having them. Sort out the causes of sadness, stress and anxiety in your life. Learn how to express your feelings in appropriate ways and avoid worsening the situation by keeping them all bottled up inside. 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, you may need to ask someone who can remain neutral such as your family doctor, a counselor or a religious advisor for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.
- Learn to 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. Journaling is a great way to keep track of things that make you feel happy or peaceful. Be willing to let go of some things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. In other words, make time for things you enjoy.
- Practice developing resiliency. 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.
- Work on calming 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. You can even 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.
Managing your emotional health is critical to your success in every area of your life. Understanding what emotional health is, how it can affect your health, the importance of keeping your doctor “in the know,” and what steps to take to obtain a good balance with the mind and body connection, will see you well on your way to maintaining good emotional health and being the “best you” that you can be.
As A Man Thinketh, So Is He!
Where the Mind Goes, Your Energy Will Flow!