Are you avoiding, denying or distracting yourself from feelings? Is it a struggle to perform at your best, or relate well to people that matter? It may be a sign that your emotional muscles need a good work-out.
Emotional muscles are explained in more detail here in a previous blog.
Research points to higher emotional intelligence as a great predictor for life satisfaction, better relationships, and lower rates of psychological difficulties.
The amazing connection between neuroscience and emotional health is creating such an exciting prospect to helps us take care of our ever changing and ever growing brain which impacts on our mental health.
The gut-brain relationship can also provide huge insight into what our bodies need to assist us with maintaining good emotional health.
With all this in mind, here’s a work-out guide to help you strengthen your emotional muscles.
Self Awareness – the key to strength
Knowing yourself emotionally takes practice because it’s so easy to be distracted by external events, people, tasks and activities.
Watch your emotions
– Diarise your emotions for 2 weeks. Look for patterns in terms of triggers, situations, people, events etc. Look out for negative judgements of yourself or others, overthinking, irritability, anger, worry, happiness, joy…
– Practice slow breathing every day for 2 weeks. Slowing the breath will allow you to become more aware of what’s going in your mind and body.
Tune in to Yourself
Tuning in is a concrete, intentional task requiring focused attention. Here’s how:
Focus on two emotions
From your diarising of your emotions, think of two emotions you want to be better at experiencing. Some examples may be anger and worry.
Focus on one at a time
Choose one emotion that you struggle with. In some quiet, uninterrupted time hold the intensity of this emotion for 2mins. Hone in on all your bodily sensations, your breathing, your heart-beat, your gut, your head, your shoulders, your whole body and after 30 seconds let it all go with a big exhalation of breath. Do 3 reps. Repeat with the other emotion.
Practice Empathy – connecting to the things that matter
Empathy is a core skill of emotional intelligence. It’s the ability to accept and understand others experience. It creates intimacy and human connection.
– Discreetly when sitting in a meeting, on the train or in any environment, gently observe people. Notice their moods by their voice, their body language, facial expressions. As you do so, silently offer them genuine care, compassion, generosity and interest.
– In conversation with people you know well try and sense their mood. Check in with them. Say something like ‘you seem happy today…” or “ you look tired and stressed….”
Self Love/Compassion – seeing yourself for who you truly are
The idea of loving yourself or giving yourself compassion and generosity is about setting an intention in your mind to be aware of your value and worth as a human being.
It’s also about giving yourself compassion and care if you are hurting or struggling for whatever reason.
Below are links to two previous posts which contain guided exercises that fit into this kind of self-care.
Paying close attention to feelings like love, compassion, care, and intuition are all matters of the heart that will strengthen your emotional heart muscle in particular. Start practicing now.
Diet/Food – I am by no means an expert in gut health, nor am I a dietician, nutritionist, doctor or scientist!
I encourage you to find more expertise in these areas to better understand the needs of your gut. It may just be that your diet is making you feel something?
This is a guide. You can begin any time. As with any kind of fitness regime you may find it difficult, painful and hard to prioritise. It requires perseverance and discipline to start to notice changes.
If you need a personal trainer, seek out advice, go and talk with someone who can tweak your emotional work out regime.
To find out more about your emotional strength, give me a call now.