The benefits of exercise extend beyond improving physical health. Exercise can help relieve anxiety and burn off stress. It can help lift depression. It can encourage a more positive outlook and boost self-esteem. Even 10 minutes of walking a day can help.
Fear of being alone can lead to unhealthy relationship decisions. I have heard many client say things like, “I know that this relationship is bad for me, but . . .” The “buts” include: I cannot be alone, I have never not been in a relationship, I am tired of trying to find someone, I am afraid I will never find anyone and so on. People, men or women, who are afraid of being alone, will often choose an unhealthy relationship over the possibility of having no relationship. They see the red flags, but choose to ignore them because they feel a desperate need to be in a relationship regardless of the cost. Facing your fear of being alone can be difficult. Having connections with other people represents a basic human need. We all need to feel loved and that we matter to someone. Sometimes people will settle for a negative connection rather than face the void of no connection.
The fear of being alone is extremely real for some. Here are some things to think about that may help calm that fear:
- What if you are missing the opportunity to meet someone who will love and respect you? It can be difficult to stick to doing what you know is best for you. Try putting the thought, “There is someone better coming,” in the back of your mind.
- Fear-based decisions are seldom good decision. If you were to act free from any fear, what choice would you make?
- You are already alone. Feeling alone and unloved when you are in a relationship may be worse that being alone.
- Being single for a time may give you an opportunity to get to know yourself, to stretch and grow and help prepare you to find a much healthier relationship.
Before you decide to leave carefully evaluate your contribution to the relationship. Are you behaving respectfully, acceptingly and lovingly? Have you made your expectations clear and have you set boundaries with your partner? Have you done all that you can to try to create a healthy relationship?
If you really are in a bad relationship, perhaps it would be helpful to accept is that it is better to be single than in an unhealthy relationship. Next it is vital to accept that you are worth it. You deserve to be loved, accepted and respected. Starting with you. Learning to matter to yourself is an important step. Practice loving, accepting and respecting yourself. Work on being comfortable with you.
Be patient and compassionate toward yourself. It may take time for you to build up the courage that you need to do what is best for you. Begin by changing how you think about your situation. Stop saying anything like, I am stuck, I cannot be alone, or I cannot leave. Focus instead on seeing yourself as strong and independent. See yourself in a healthy loving relationship. Facing your fear of being alone may begin you on the path of making better relationship decisions. Leaving is not always the solution, but you do have to do something different if you are going to see different results.
Emotional fitness helps us feel in control of our emotions and our behavior. It makes handling life’s challenges more doable and leads to stronger, healthier relationships. Just as maintaining physical fitness requires effort; maintaining mental or emotional health requires some discipline and good habits. Choosing to take even a short time each day to strengthen our emotional health will benefit our lives. We will build our resilience, boost our mood, feel more confident and find more joy in the moment.
Being emotionally fit or healthy does not mean that life will always be easy. We all have bad days—all have insecurities and we all face disappointments, change or loss. These tough times can cause frustration, sadness, worry and stress.
When we are emotionally fit we will find that we bounce back from times of stress, trauma and adversity more quickly. We are more resilient. We take things in stride a little easier. We have a reserve to draw on, are more able to focus on solutions and be flexible and creative in our problem solving.
Here are some simple ways to strengthen your emotional fitness:
- Develop health-promoting routines
- Get enough sleep. Everything seems worse when you are sleep deprived.
- Eat a balanced diet. Physical health contributes to emotional wellbeing.
- Exercise regularly. Get those endorphins flowing.
- Spend some time in the sun; take a few moments each day to enjoy nature.
- Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol and other substances that unnaturally alter your state and have negative consequences for your health and wellbeing.
- Take care of yourself
- Practice gratitude. Choosing to focus on what you are grateful for is one of the best antidotes to negative thoughts, feelings and actions.
- Create and enjoy positive memories. You can benefits as you make and then later remember those positive moments.
- Take time to be still. Learn to meditate and practice meditation or listen to soothing music.
- Learn something new. Enjoy a sense of growth and accomplishment.
- Be kind to yourself.
- Set and maintain healthy boundaries. Learn to say no without guilt.
- Exercise your self-discipline muscle. Little positive choices made consistently can add up to huge results.
- Put a time limit on draining mental habits like negative self-talk and worry.
- Find healthy ways to reduce and manage stress.
- Practice being in the moment; pay attention to your senses.
- Make time for fun. Smile and laugh. Humor is also a great antidote to the negative and does wonders to build resilience.
- Vividly picture yourself as happy, healthy and emotionally strong. See your self responding well to challenges and enjoying good times.
- Reach out to others
- Help others. Volunteering can help build confidence and bring positive feelings.
- Shut off distractions (phone, TV, computers etc.) Make eye contact and talk to others.
- Join a club or group. Find something that gets you out of the house regularly.
- Spend time with positive people.
- Share your thoughts and feelings appropriately with those who support and have an interest in you.
Strengthening your emotional fitness will increase your enjoyment of life. You will enjoy a greater sense of contentment; find it easier to balance meeting the needs of other while meeting your own needs. Make strengthening your emotional fitness a priority. This will benefit all aspects of your life.
Good friends are precious and worth treasuring. Making friends as an adult is challenging for some; it can seem difficult as an adult to reach out and make new friends. People sometimes lament that they have no friends or cannot seem to make or keep friends. It is possible that there may be more at play here, than aging. The early relationship people have with their parents or caregivers may predict their ability to relate to others as an adult. If they were lucky, they were securely bonded to a parent or caregiver. This occurs when the parent is a supporter and in tune with their child’s emotions. The secure attachment style tends to lead to confidence and good social skills as an adult.
The emotional bond formed between the primary caregiver and baby is called attachment. There are several styles of attachment, but the basic difference is between a secure and insecure attachment. The type of emotional bond formed has a profound influence on the structure and functioning of the child’s brain.
If you find that you tend to have empathy for others and yourself and that you are able to set healthy boundaries and create healthy relationships. It is probable that your caregiver was available, predictable and had healthy boundaries.
If you find that you tend to avoid closeness or emotional connection with others, feel distant, critical, intolerant or find yourself being very rigid about how you want things done. It is possible that a parent or caregiver was either rejecting or unavailable.
If you are charming, yet feel insecure and anxious; find yourself blaming others, behaving impulsively or erratically. Your parent or caregiver was probably pushy, interfering and unpredictable.
If you are untrusting, insensitive, abusive or you have an explosive temper or chaotic behavior. It is possible that your parent’s or caregiver’s behavior was terrifying or traumatizing.
Whether the failure to attach is caused by unavailability, neglect or abuse; developmental or relational trauma can result. These traumas early in life contribute to a lack of self-esteem and social awareness. Physical health and ability to learn can also be affected.
When there is a secure attachment, the result is the ability to form healthy, pleasurable, even joyful relationships. If the attachment bond is insecure, adult relationships can be haunted by the underlying negative expectations of intimacy.
The good news is that it is possible to earn or learn secure attachment. The awareness of how your early life may be impacting your relationships creates the opportunity for choice. Finding a partner or mentor who is secure can contribute to emotional healing. It is possible to find healthier ways to deal with pain and trauma from the past. Working through issues rather than hiding from them can help release you from the triggers that overwhelm your emotions. The most important element for healing is a lasting healthy relationship with a friend, partner or therapist. These types of relationship help you learn to trust and help give you the encouragement and strength to break the cycle of neglect or abuse often caused by insecure attachment.
Too often we eat for reasons other than hunger. We may eat when feeling stressed or needing comfort or we may see food as a reward. Eating our emotions rather than dealing with them, does not fix problem and may even complicate things. If eating becomes a way to cope emotionally, the real problems may never be addressed and our health may suffer. Emotional eating has nothing to do with your body’s need for nourishment and often results in poor food choices. Emotional hunger cannot be satisfied with food. Eating may initially provide a feeling of comfort, but that too often is followed by guilt and self-loathing, which is followed by more eating and so on.
If you reach for chocolate or salty treats when you are down or stressed; if you eat when you are bored or feeling unsettled; if you eat when you are not hungry; then you may be an emotional eater.
To reduce emotional eating try implementing the following:
Become aware of the triggers for your emotional eating. Awareness is the first step to change. When you find yourself indulging in emotional eating, you may want to jot down how you are feeling and what is or has been happening. Doing this for a while will help you to identify patterns and learn about the triggers for your emotional eating.
Stop, walk and drink. When a craving hits you, experiment with grabbing your water bottle and going for a short walk. Do not tell yourself that you cannot give in to your craving. Just tell yourself that you are going to do this first. As you are walking, try to be mindful of the day, the walk and also of your feelings. Tell yourself that it is okay to feel however you feel and that it makes sense that you would feel that way. Who knows, perhaps the craving will pass by the time you are finished your walk.
Find another way to sooth yourself. You could write out your feeling, talk them out with a friend, distract yourself or snuggle up with a warm blanket and a book. Find some alternative that works for you.
Develop healthy habits. Get enough sleep, move your body regularly, eat well, drink plenty of water and find ways to interact with positive people. Being well rested and feeling healthy and supported can make it much easier to say no to emotional eating.
Posted by Dallas Munkholm
"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." William James In today’s world nothing is more certain then change. We are always changing. Some changes we choose, others are thrust upon us with little choice, others we think we don’t have any power in the decision to change but we do. In fact, we always have a choice, just at times it seems that the one choice is totally unacceptable and so we feel we have no choice.
For example, either you take this different position or you don’t work here anymore. Or you need to change or your spouse/friend will leave. These really don’t feel like choices do they? Yet, the decision is ours. How bad do we need that job? Will we stick to our position or take the new one, our choice. Are we willing to stand our ground with our spouse or do we feel more value in changing, again, our choice.
So how to make a deliberate change? To change something in our life we need four basic things: an awareness of something to be changed, a desire to change, information regarding the change, and action. So most of are aware when things need to be different, the question then becomes do we want to do something about it, a desire. The next thing is information, very specific information.
Our brain does not deal to well with abstract generalities, if I say I need to lose weight and step on the scale and I’ve lost a pound, I’m done, I’ve lost weight. We need to know what do we want to change, a specific behavior or belief, we need to know why, what is wrong with us the way we are. Then what do we want instead, again, specifics, why, how when and what. What have we tried, what worked or didn’t and why. Once we have gathered this information we need a plan of action.
Most of us have no problem figuring out the first two, some of us get to parts of the information gathering but most of us fall down in the action part. If we want something different in our lives we have to do something different. This allows us to take control of our lives and that makes us less anxious.
Why don’t most of us do something when we have gathered the information? Well, Joe Vitale, says the reason most of us don’t do something is fear. Fear of something different happening, we don’t know what is coming at us, fear of trying and failing, fear of trying and succeeding. Sometimes we fear the reactions of others in our life, spouses, partners, family, parents, friends, bosses and co-workers, the list is as long as we want to make it.
It is this fear that leads to a final point about change. For most of us changing things in our lives is relatively simple until we come up against our personal lives, our beliefs, our hopes and fears and those things we hold close and dear. Then our decision to make a change is harder, we feel threatened or afraid and decision-making skills suffer.
Change will never happen in your life until the pain of staying the same outweighs the fear of change, fear of the unknown. We need pain as a motivator for some reason. We often struggle with making our own choices stick, pain will change that. When we are in enough pain and distress that fear no longer stops us; that is when we will make a change.