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  • Writer's pictureDena Lampert

Defining Your Emotional Fitness

If you know me you know that I’m a loyal Peloton rider. I ride as often as I can, not because I’m training for a triathlon or looking to change the way I look (those days are long gone). I ride because after every class my mood is lifted and I feel energized to tackle the day. During one of my classes the other day, the instructor mentioned the term “emotional fitness” and my interest peaked.


Emotional fitness can be defined as a state where our mind is capable of staying away from negative thoughts and can focus on creative and productive tasks. Emotional fitness is the armor you can put on when life throws challenges at you to ensure you stay on track and don’t get lost in negative thoughts or behavioral patterns.


When we think about physical fitness, there are essentially three main parts that combine to form it: flexibility, strength, and endurance. Can we use these three components of physical fitness to help define and improve our emotional fitness?


Flexibility


Emotional flexibility can be defined as the ability to regulate and adapt our emotions based on different situations without feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed.


In the same way that it takes time and consistent practice to develop our physical flexibility, it takes time and practice to develop our emotional flexibility. To become more physically flexible we need to stretch every day and try to push ourselves a little bit further each day to eventually reach our goal.


Similarly, to become more emotionally flexible we need to practice each day and push ourselves small amounts at a time. If a situation occurs one day and you notice that you’re not being very emotionally flexible, find some time to reflect on the situation and consider what you can do to better regulate your emotions and be more flexible. Small steps each day will result in gradual improvement over time. A greater ability to regulate your emotions allows you not to be so affected by life's challenges.


Strength


Emotional strength and emotional flexibility play into each other, but they’re slightly different. While flexibility is being able to adapt your emotional response to different situations, emotional strength can be defined as having the ability to deal with and manage setbacks in life. Emotional strength also refers not only to your response at the time but also to how you bounce back from challenging situations.


Building your emotional strength is similar to building your physical strength. While you might not be going to the gym, you can work on building your emotional strength whenever life might throw you a challenge. And like physical strength, once you’ve built up some emotional strength it doesn’t just disappear if you stop going to the gym or using it for a while. Your emotional strength will be there in the background to support you whenever you might need it.


Endurance


Emotional endurance is similar to being emotionally strong, but it’s the ability to be able to be strong for a prolonged period of time. Sometimes life can be rough and we can experience a series of setbacks one after the other, and this is where emotional endurance can help us.


Life often presents challenge after challenge, demanding us to stretch ourselves emotionally. But without these challenges, we wouldn’t have the need or opportunity to grow. By working on improving our emotional flexibility, strength, and endurance, we will be better equipped to deal with life’s challenges.


Physical Fitness and Emotional Fitness


One of the best ways to work on improving our emotional fitness is through physical fitness. You don’t need to have a Peloton bike or a gym membership or anything that costs money at all in order to do this. A simple walk or a stretching session can be all you need to get your thoughts back in order and feel more energized to tackle whatever situation might be facing you that day. By exercising regularly, you’ll find yourself with more clarity, mental space, and objectivity which will help you work on your emotional fitness in the right frame of mind.


Emotional fitness can look different in everyone, and like physical fitness, you will never reach “perfection” but the benefit comes from consistently working on your emotional fitness and improving your armor so that next time you need it, you will be better equipped to tackle whatever comes your way.


If you need some extra support in working on your emotional fitness, reach out and one of our qualified therapists will be happy to help.

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