Emotional health is key to holistic wellness. We value it as one of the six dimensions of wellness at Habitude Fitness. I often hear some of my class members comment that the HIIT class I lead is their therapy, or the week goes better after they get their Tuesday night sweat session in. This proves that our stress level, our thoughts, actions, and behaviors can be affected by how we feel physically. This is truly no surprise, as we know that when we get nervous we may experience butterflies in the stomach or a red face. Stress can cause hives, increased aches and pains, ulcers or IBS. A person might not even realize they are emotionally unbalanced, but the physical symptoms they experience are a sign to draw your attention inward.
There are so many things minute by minute throughout our day that can affect how we feel emotionally. From the heavy traffic on the way to work, to a co-worker not pulling their weight. Perhaps you have little ones at home, get sad when the winter arrives, or are struggling with your body image. Chronic health issues or financial worries may consume your thoughts as well as school, friends, work, and managing it all. Maybe you are swamped at work and the light at the end of the tunnel seems dim. When we get emotionally stressed by those we love the most, the symptoms could be even worse. Whatever triggers emotional upset is sometimes out of our control. However, how we react and deal with this upset is something that can make each of us not only happier, but healthier.
The holidays are quickly approaching and this can be a joyful and memorable time for many. However, it can also cause a heavy dose of stress. Dealing with to-do lists, travel, and families (and the ups and downs that accompany them), can either make us bitter and distant, or provide a challenge and opportunity to let go, forgive, and love. And the latter is much more difficult!
Each of us are uniquely wired and gifted. With our uniqueness often comes difficulty relating to, and understanding others. I believe many of us adopted the language to interact with those around us from our parents. We practice what we were taught or what was modeled for us. However, as we grow up, move away, get married, get jobs, and experience life; the things we value, and the way we interact are bound to change. I believe we begin to blend what was once so natural to us and what is new and ever changing into our personalities and characteristics. Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, has made the intricacies of relating to others easy to understand once you know who you are and who the people around you are.
The Five Love Languages include: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. You typically feel most understood and loved when those around you are speaking your language. In the same sense you will naturally gravitate to treating others how you like to be treated. Sometimes this works, but most of the time it doesn’t hit that home run you may desire-unless of course you both share the same language.
My language is words of affirmation. I am a words person and always have been. To ease emotional tension I can write in journals or talk to someone I really trust. I love to hand-write cards and honestly express to others my gratitude, how I am feeling, or what I am thinking in regards to our relationship. The same holds true when words are spoken to me. They can make me feel loved and cherished a million times over, or wreck me for a good while. This has been a good growth opportunity for me as I get older in learning how to deal with others and their words. I have learned that sometimes people are not capable to express themselves, or cannot understand like I am hoping they would. It is then up to me to navigate this in a healthy way and not to hold them at fault. Looking at things realistically helps me to let go, forgive, and love more appropriately and more effectively.
If you would like to know what your Love Language is take a free assessment. There are resources for interacting with your spouse, your kids, your company, your teens, singles, and those in the military.
As said many times before in my writings on this blog, I believe if one dimension of wellness is suffering, the other dimensions will be challenging to keep intact. I am not prefect in this…far from it actually. But, I believe if we are all more mindful of what could be stressing us-big or small, we can approach any upset with more confidence. No, we cannot control our hectic long commutes, but we can find solutions to how we keep our tension down. Books on CD, your favorite tunes, deep diaphragmatic breathing, neck stretches, a delicious cup of coffee, saying something you are grateful for, or listening to your favorite podcast may all aid in taking your mind away from a less than desirable situation. (And this is indeed a discipline!) When it comes to issues bigger than traffic, keep in mind that connecting, fixing wrongs, or relating to others effectively is far from easy. It will take humility, patience, perseverance, and maybe even letting someone down sometimes. As a recovering people pleaser, saying no has gotten easier and made me a healthier woman!
I believe we all desire the best for our lives, as well as for those around us. Let each of us remember to be patient and forgiving. Do not hold a grudge. Don’t sweat the small stuff this holiday season. Don’t be afraid to do what you need to do to take care of yourself and maintain your values – doing the right thing always wins eventually. Have open honest conversations with those you love, even if it hurts at first. Talking is healing and necessary for understanding and personal growth. Agree to disagree, get enough sleep, spend time doing things you enjoy. Laugh! (When I am stressed I try watch some Jimmy Kimmel or a watch funny movie!) Stretch, eat healthy, and find people in your life you can trust to engage with- people you can be yourself around!
How is your emotional health today, and what can you do to decide how to tend to it?
In this with you…