I work out for emotional fitness. I work out for heart health. No, not just the cardio blood-pumping heart health. Sure, that’s good common sense, which we all know. I like to work out to make my heart feel stronger on an emotional and spiritual level. Yep, that’s right. I think emotional fitness is where it’s at.
Exercise has been a lifelong habit. I work out when I am sad, happy, bored, lonely, anxious, depressed, excited, joyful, or worried. It fits all my moods.
Fitness is encouraged to support physical health, fight off disease, and for sex appeal. It is also encouraged for stress relief. What does it mean to reduce stress exactly? I think it means that we take care of our emotional fitness.
I have a list of reasons to exercise to support what is referred to as mental health. I would rather call it living.
My list includes familiar methods, but instead of listing the obvious physical benefits, I share how I am effected on a mental, emotional, or spiritual level. I am sure everyone experiences these differently. I’d love to know how others feel their emotions are enhanced with workouts.
I do intervals of jogging, sprinting, and walking. Intervals, the mixture, is ideal for me. I find jogging boring and slightly miserable after a while. Walking makes me slow down and see things around me more closely. I learn to appreciate my surroundings. Running fast makes me feel like a stone skipping across water. I like the short maximum demand, like a speeding bullet train (at least in my head).
For me, running burns off anxiety. It reduces fear.
It’s quiet under the water. I come up with new ideas because I am less distracted by reasons why I can’t do things. It’s just me and the water. The water’s fluidity encourages a more flexible way of thinking.
I have to take deep breaths and hold it and release it, and that creates a lot of bubbles that I can float through. I move through space differently and that brings forth creativity in problem solving.
For me, swimming is forgiveness. Swimming makes me feel the most loving. I love everyone after a good swim.
I feel strong, and therefore confident when I lift weights. This makes me less paranoid, less concerned about perceived threats. I like to hold weight, to lift it with control. When confident in this arena, I am more likely to bring myself stronger to whatever I am doing. This includes things that don’t require obvious physical strength. Another bonus: I don’t feel as vulnerable to negativity.
Lifting weights can offer stability and build confidence.
It is good for me because it makes me go slow. My favorite instructors offer a bit of history about the poses rather than powering through it on a purely physical level. Yoga can be a great blend. It offers a good dish of humility. My best life teachers have been humble. Knowing these teachers taught me to be vulnerable, to ask for help. I like yoga for making friends with myself, for practicing flexibility.
Yoga encourages me toward a more humble and yielding position in the scheme of things.
Burpees: Falling to the ground and getting back up again, over and over when it seems impossible, is pushing it. This is about perseverance through discomfort and even fear. After I do burpees I feel like my cells have been washed, purged, and rinsed repeatedly. By the time I am done, I feel more clear. I feel my body, mind, spirit have been flushed and hung out to dry. I’m ready for anything.
Burpees reduce negativity. You’re simply happy you lived through it. They also reduce stagnation. I am cleansed. I feel nearly euphoric.
A little shout out to the heart and lungs on a emotional level: Older health paradigms assigned emotions or feelings to organs. For example, in Chinese medicine the heart can house anxiety, but also joy and enlightenment. The lungs can store grief, but also can produce generosity and integrity. In my thinking, the more we are stagnant, the more negativity builds.
This does not mean we cannot be still. Stillness or meditation is absolutely essential in good mental health. Being still for wellness is a completely different blog, so I’ll save that for later.
In summary, the above listed methods of exercise offer me:
a sprinkle of euphoria
These are health goals that I can get behind!
What about you, what works in your world?