Growing Emotional Fitness

At the heart of resiliency, is the ability to manage our mind and our emotions, in a way that will best help us through difficult times and difficult situations.

WHEN IT COMES to wellness, there is often a strong emphasis on the importance of physical fitness and the role the body plays in managing health and wellbeing of the mind and overall functionality of the body. While regular exercise is indeed very important, especially in the current situation, there is a lack of emphasis on importance of ‘exercising’ our feelings and emotions.

To be able to work with and work on our emotions we need to become “emotionally fit”. In real terms emotional fitness is the ability to adapt well to any circumstance emotionally. The better we are able to manage our feelings in intense situations, the more emotionally fit we are.

An important aspect of this fitness is not to ignore our feelings but to be able to best manage them in a congruent and meaningful way. For example, understanding how we feel develops the skill of self-awareness. Then understanding why we are feeling how we feel, develops the skills of reflection and meaning making.

Finally, deciding on what will help ease, sooth or increase our emotions in a healthy way allows us to gain confidence and more control in our lives regardless of the situation we are facing. We are in the driver’s seat and we have influence over our own body and mind.

Take for example the present situation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most aspects of the pandemic are out of our control but there are some that things that are within our control such wearing a mask, where we go, washing our hands etc. Our thoughts and feelings are certainly areas which we can have an influence on, including when we experience feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. The more we engage with and practice influence over these areas, the more emotionally fit we become, which also involves emphasising certain emotional states as happiness, gratitude, and care.

Some things to practice to help develop emotional fitness are:

  • Checking in with your feelings every morning and every evening

  • Clearly naming the emotions

  • Rating them and gauging the intensity of them, out of 20 for example

  • Practicing raising or lowing their intensity, depending on the desired emotional result

  • Finally having a practice to allow us to return to a natural and calm state

This returning to a natural or neutral state can be achieved with the regular practice of meditation or slow breathing techniques.

This article was contributed by Jason Brennan, Wellness and Leadership director at Wrkit.