3 ‘Workouts’ for Your Emotional Well-being
Published on: October 10, 2018
Invest in your emotional well-being and enjoy the returns on your investment.
By Carolina Herrera
Every year we spend hundreds of dollars on gym memberships, personal trainers and fitness boot-camps. We stress over our looks, yo-yo diet and obsess about being the perfect version of ourselves (on the outside). Yet, how many of us do as much to address our emotional wellbeing?
In March 2018, the World Health Organisation released a fact sheet on depression which stated:
Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. And more women are affected by depression than men.
With this in mind, I believe it’s time we start looking after our emotional health as much as we do our physical bodies. We owe it to ourselves, and as mothers, we owe it to our children.
Here are three practices that have really moved the dial for me, and I hope will make a difference for you too.
1. Face Your Fears
Fear, like other emotions, is helpful information. Acknowledge it and be grateful, but don’t let it run the show (all the time). Instead, consider this:
Our ‘reptilian brain’ (as named by Dr. Paul MacLean)- the part of our brain responsible for survival – will make us fear the unknown because it is trying to keep us safe. On a day to day basis, the reptilian brain gets scared and stops us from trying new things and taking risks. This is why change is often so hard.
So, unless you are in the face of true danger, why not thank your fear for showing up and do as author Elizabeth Gilbert does, talk to fear and say:
I understand that you are Fear, and that your job is to be afraid…I will never ask you to go away or to be silent because you have a right to speak your own voice…You may join us on this journey — and I know that you will — but you do not get to choose the direction in which we will walk, and you will not stop me and Creativity from making plans and decisions together.
Now, comfortably walking alongside your fear, pick one thing you’ve always wanted to do, something that is dear to your heart, but that you’ve been too scared to try and give it a go. Take baby steps and see how you feel.
Remember, “Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is fear walking” (Susan David Ph.D).
Harvard University’s longest study of adult life (started in 1938) shows that:
Social connections are really good for us and that loneliness kills… It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, friends, and community are happier. They are physically healthier and live longer than people who are less well connected.
I know for those of us living away from our extended families and the networks of friends we grew up with, making deep and meaningful connections can seem difficult. Rather than using this as an excuse to stay isolated, why not see it as a golden chance: an opportunity to find and surround ourselves by people that can help us shine and feel the way we really want.
To do this, first, you’ll have to ask yourself who you want to be in this new phase of your life and what kind of people you need to support you in this journey. For instance, if you are looking to become a mumpreneur and start your own business, try joining groups like the Boss-mom movement, co-working spaces, or on-line platforms like the Female Entrepreneurship Association, to name a few.
View your new interactions as an opportunity to be the you that feels most authentic at this moment in time. And know that you don’t have to conform to old labels or expectations you may have grown up with.
On a practical level, if you feel uncomfortable or too shy to put yourself out there, check out Vanessa Van Edwards the Science of People website. She describes herself as a ‘recovering awkward person’ and has many helpful posts, including one called “Learn how to make friends as an adult in 5 steps.”
There is nothing like a good laugh to act as an injection of relief in times of stress. And now science is starting to highlight the healing effects of laughter and how we can harness these for greater emotional wellbeing.
Tamara Lechner from the Chopra Centre explains that laughter can reduce the stress response; boost immunity; increase resilience; combat depression; and even help relieve pain. We can experience these benefits by simply ‘choosing to laugh.’
Sebastian Gendry, founder of the Laughter Online University, says you can always laugh even when you don’t feel like it. Just do it, because you can! A reason is not required.
He further explains that whether you connect to genuine laughter or not, it doesn’t matter, your body will still experience the benefits.
I’d like to invite you to commit to these practices or any others that feed your soul. Make self-care a priority and know that taking time to step out of your comfort zone, connect with others and laugh as suggested here is not selfish. It’s essential for your emotional wellbeing, for your happiness and that of those around you.
About the Author
Carolina is founder of www.taketimetobeyou.com, a practice designed to help women live more authentic and meaningful lives. Originally from Colombia, she grew up in London and now lives in Bangkok with her husband and kids.
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