Common Sense Wellness Reminders For These Times
With the new stressor of COVID-19 and ongoing stressors of your work (or lack thereof) and home, it is no surprise that you will experience symptoms of the emotional twins: anxiety and depression. Like twins, they have distinct characteristics but they come from the same place. Being able to experience a range of emotions is a good thing, however the key is understanding your emotions and being able to let them come and manage them in a constructive way that promotes a stronger, healthier, and resilient version of you.
One of the most common destructive ways to manage our emotions is to try to control them with food. When we have an emotion that we don’t like, we try to get rid of it with food that is easily available to us, which is usually foods that are high in fats and sugar and low in nutrients. It’s extremely tempting during this time to go for the quick foods. However, these foods will make pack on weight at a more rapid rate during this time. Consistently eating unhealthy foods driven by emotions will give us one outcome – poor wellness and unnecessary weight gain. When we eat food emotionally we are getting a false sense of gratification only to be quickly followed by guilt and shame because we ate something unhealthy, further entrenching us into a negative tailspin.
Secondly, one of the most effective methods we can use to manage our emotions is physical exercise – any physical exercise. The body was meant to move. Higher amounts of exercise have been proven to be directly correlated to lower effects of depressive and anxious symptoms. With exercise, endorphins are released to react with the opiate receptors in the brain to give us a sense of relief. In other words, it is the body’s natural form of morphine. Just as the goal of the morphine drug is to perceivably alter the intensity of the physical pain we feel, endorphins naturally alter our physical and emotional pain. Too many negative emotions that consume our everyday cognitions roll out the red carpet for depression and anxiety.
It is important that we look at exercise and psychotherapy as maintenance to combat and challenge these negative and worrisome thoughts that have the propensity to plague us. Combined, these two practices, on a continuous bases, can be a powerful duo to help us physically maintain a chemical balance of releases that promote personal harmony and to learn coping skills to successfully move through emotional challenges with our relationships, among other stressors.