Here’s the thing about emotions: they matter. They affect everything from how you sleep to how you eat to how you interact with people and even how you exercise.
Emotional baggage is heavy. It’s like running a marathon with a backpack full of bricks strapped to your back. You can’t take it off, and along the way, bricks are added, removed and shuffled around. The bricks weigh different amounts, are shaped differently, jut into your back at different angles and are always there.
No matter how wonderful our lives, we always have a couple of bricks. Something as simple as a weird look you received that day to big work or family stressors can affect us in ways we don’t expect.
Obviously, positive emotions impact us in different ways as well. A good day, a promotion at work, a great date, or amazing family news can take your workout to the next level. You have more energy, feel stronger, faster and tougher.
So, a few questions come to mind. How do I still get in a good workout knowing that I’ve got some heavy bricks to carry? How do I make good decisions about my health, knowing unhealthy things could comfort me? How do I make my emotional backpack lighter?
Some tips that work for me:
- Take 2 minutes before your workout to actively list what you are grateful for. Too often, we focus on what we don’t have, what is going wrong and how bad things are when we have innumerable things to be grateful for, happy with and never take for granted.
- Embrace the emotions. Use it for motivation. Whatever you’re angry about or upset about, feel it fully and go! Sometimes, a crappy day is just the kick in the butt you need.
- Using your workout as a form of therapy is really effective. Excluding the endorphins you get from exercise, just enjoying 30-60 minutes of your day when things aren’t going your way is hugely important. Whether you’re hitting the pavement with your headphones on or joining a group to greet the sunrise and sweat it out, do what you enjoy.
- Look around. Whatever it is you’re doing on this off day, look around while you do it. Appreciating the little things around you helps you gain perspective.
- Acknowledge that you’re healthy and able to exercise. Pardon the cliché, but be grateful you have your health.
- Take 5 deep breaths—each longer, slower and fuller than the last. With each exhale, make a conscious decision to let it go for the next 30-60 minutes. Whatever it is, you can deal with it later. Go run, lift, move, dance, jump, live.
- Examine the bricks in your emotional backpack. Do you really need them? Does the person, thing, or event causing them to exist or be so big and heavy play a positive role in your life? If the answer is no, take that brick and throw it away. You don’t need it.
- Remember that it’s okay to be unhappy or sad every once in a while. What’s NOT okay is not doing anything about it. Exercise is time to work on you.
- Call your workout buddy. Is there anything better than running with your bestie?
- Not feeling 100%? No problem. Skip your workout that day. Go get a massage, cook yourself a new, healthy meal, go see a movie. Focusing on yourself and listening to your body is just as important a part of your health as exercise is.
How do you deal with heavy emotions? Got any tips for us? Leave ’em in the comments below!
And remember, You’re Doing Great!
Until Next Time,
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