October 15, 2021

Rock The Walk 2021: Week 4

General Health

Hello everyone!

You officially made it over the hump of the Rock the Walk Challenge—congratulations! This is sometimes the point in the health challenge where you may be feeling a bit like you have lost your motivation, and you may be feeling ‘bleh’ with your exercise routine. The halfway mark of, anything really, is a good opportunity for you to do an evaluation of your progress, and to make adjustments if you feel they would be beneficial to the 2nd half of whatever you are working on. Remember, with health, it truly is a day-by-day adventure and takes work (if only we could figure out that magic pill…).

For week 4 of the challenge, the focus was on Emotional Health, and how that applies to being aware of your health. Emotional health is not something as easily measurable as say, your weight or total cholesterol numbers, and it can be hard to gauge where you are at. Emotional health focuses on awareness, acceptance and management of your feelings, and additionally, it also includes how you cope with stress and manage your relationships with others. How does this tie back to your health, and being aware of it?

Emotional Health is maintaining good mental health, a positive attitude, high self-esteem, and a strong self-image. It is the ability to respond resiliently to emotional states and the flow of life every day, which has been drastically turned upside-down over the last 18 months (no thank you COVID-19).

It is dealing with a variety of situations realistically and learning more about yourself and how things you do affect your feelings. It is taking responsibility for your own behavior and responding to challenges as opportunities—which if anything 2020 and 2021 has taught us, there are more challenges to work towards making them feel as opportunities.

You likely know how it feels when your emotions are running high, or you are experiencing a difficult or traumatic experience—emotions, when not addressed, drain your energy and can make you feel as if you are not in control. When you are “emotionally drained” it can be a huge challenge to think outside of the situation you are working through, or how you’re feeling, and that may mean you likely put aside some of the other components of your health/wellness plan. You may skip your workout for the day or choose foods that are more energy dense versus nutrient dense because they are convenient, and you only have enough energy for the drive-thru or something easy to prepare. I’ve been there and I am in no way shaming anyone who is feeling the wrath of emotional turmoil—I’m letting you know it’s ok, and you can work slowly on a few tips to help improve and increase your emotional wellness.

Tips to Increase Emotional Wellness

We all approach health in different ways and learn what works for our mind and bodies at different speeds. What is important is to take time to reflect what is working for you, and what you can add to your daily or weekly routine to be the best version of you.

One of my favorite websites for anything dimensions of health related is from the National Institutes of Health from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This particular website that I am getting these tips from is from their “Emotional Wellness Toolkit” and the suggestions are realistic and things you can apply daily.

  • Brighten your Daily Outlook
    • Forgive yourself for mistakes made. Learn what went wrong and don’t dwell.
    • Spend more time with friends, especially the positive ones.
    • Remember your good deeds – give yourself credit for the good you put into the world and other’s lives.
    • Develop healthy physical habits. Working to make changes to your physical habits (exercise, nutrition, sleep) can mean a better outlook and overall improvement in physical and mental health.
  • Reduce Stress
    • Recognize signs of excess stress. This might include difficulty sleeping, decreased mood, physical discomfort (tight shoulders or neck), low energy and depression.
    • Exercise regularly – umm, you’re already rockin’ this!
    • Schedule time for relaxing activities. This means something different to everyone, but actually make time to do the things you enjoy.
    • Get enough sleep – I talked about sleep in previous blogs, but aim for your 7-9 and create an ideal sleep environment.
    • Build a social support network of friends, family, colleagues and others who can give you emotional support.
    • Seek help – this is important! Talk to a healthcare professional if you feel you are unable to cope, have suicidal thoughts and need assistance with your mental and emotional health.
  • Cope with Loss
    • Take care of yourself – exercise regularly, eat nutrient-dense food, and aim for at least 7-9 hours of sleep. Avoid habits that can put your health at risk, such as smoking, vaping or drinking.
    • Use your support network – this may mean family members or friends, or support groups that can give you the support you need. If you are needing more support with your grief, reach out to a professional.
    • Allow yourself to be patient – mourning takes time, and you will likely feel a flood of emotions. Consider not making major life decisions during the time.
  • Be Mindful
    • Spend a few moments each day working on mindfulness. By being present it allows us to be aware of what is going on inside us and around us and to be in tune with your thoughts, feelings, sensations and environment.
    • You can be mindful in many daily activities – from taking a walk, to eating to doing a body scan before you sleep. Allow yourself to practice and focus on your feelings and what you see and feel around you.
    • Deep breathing is a tool that you can take with you wherever you go. Utilizing your breath can allow you a moment to decompress, reset and focus back on the situation in front of you.

Emotional health is different for everyone, however we all can take moments each day to work towards improved emotional health and being more in touch with our feelings. Utilize these tips to better be involved with your health and all dimensions of wellness.

Until next time!

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2021, August 26). Emotional Wellness Toolkit. Retrieved October 5, 2021, from https://www.nih.gov/health-information/emotional-wellness-toolkit.