We’re always talking, reading and hearing about getting in shape physically, but what about our emotional health? After all, what’s the point of looking great physically if just below the six-pack lurks an emotional train wreck? Living in our body-obsessed, appearance-focused culture, it’s easy to fall into the “I am my body” trap but the truth is that taking care of ourselves emotionally is just as important as the physical stuff. Just ask all those insecure, obsessive, fearful, anxious people with beautiful bodies. And there are many.
So, how can we lose some of our emotional weight?
1. Appreciate your body but don’t be your body. When the entirety of your self-esteem and identity is dependent on your appearance, you can’t help but be anxious, fearful and insecure. You are much more than a bunch of bones, organs and muscles. Your body is where you live, not who you are.
2. Don’t hang out with toxic people. Self-absorbed, problem-focused, self-pitying, jealous, resentful, angry types. You know the ones. As I say often, spend time with people who will drag you up.
3. Stop having the same pointless conversations with the same people about the same issues only to produce the same negative outcomes. You know the ones.
4. Keep a gratitude journal. If you live in a first-world country and have a bed, food, clean water and education, you’re in the minority. If you want to find reasons to be miserable, you will.
5. Stop beating yourself up. Self-loathing is pointless, dis-empowering and potential-destroying. It’s also annoying to be around. Replace your self-loathing with self-awareness.
6. Don’t waste emotional energy on things you can’t change. Like what happened yesterday, the weather, your genetics and other people. Control your controllables, let go of the rest and you might be a lot happier.
7. Stop using food as an anaesthetic to numb your emotional pain. Good in the short term (like ten minutes), crap over the long term. Using food as an avoidance mechanism only creates more problems.
8. Please yourself. And this is not about being selfish or self-centred. No, it’s about being authentic and genuine. It’s about letting go of the desperate and unhealthy need to fit in, to please others and to compromise your own values, beliefs and standards in order to belong. If you’re not good enough as you are, you don’t need to belong to their group.
9. Spend time in nature. Nature is calming, therapeutic and has proven health benefits; both physical and emotional. The sound of water, the feeling of sand between your toes, the smell of a forest, the warmth of the sun on your back, the exhilaration of climbing a mountain and the tranquility of soaking in a beautiful view. Step out of the chaos and into the calm and your heart will thank you.
10. I thought I’d leave number ten to you and we could open up a little group discussion; even for you scaredy-cats who never comment. Tell us what your number ten might be and I’ll send a few random gifts (anywhere in the world) for the suggestions that blow my Hush Puppies off.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.