Exercise Your Emotions

2020 has been interesting…to say the least. Throughout the year, we’ve all had to deal with stresses big and small. And we’ve all had to learn how to keep going. One other thing we’ve learned, for certain, is that our emotional fitness is right up there with our physical fitness in terms of staying happy and healthy throughout some tough times.

Women’s Health outlined 31 ways we can exercise our emotions to ensure the challenges we face don’t weigh us down. Here are a few of our favorites:

Think of one good happening from your day before bed.

“It’s a trick I learned from [happiness expert] Shawn Achor that’s stuck—two minutes is maintainable,” says Dan Harris, ABC News anchor and cofounder of 10 Percent Happier. Try it, and channeling positivity and gratitude daily will become routine.

Take a recess.

Play is an undervalued pillar of emotional fitness, Anhalt says. The definition: Play is all about a meeting of the minds and letting yourself think outside of what feels possible or logical—as in brainstorms or word games with friends.

Change your view of the present.

If you’ve lost any crucial parts of your identity—whether that comes from an injury, a job loss, the end of a relationship, a move—consider other positives of the current moment. “It may not be the year for making money, but it may be the year for your meditation practice or your creativity,” says Ingber. When you try this, “it shows you that you are none of these things you thought defined you.”

Repeat this quote to help quell anxiety:

“Trust future you to handle future problems.” In other words, whatever happens in the future will be handled…then, says Anhalt. No use worrying about it now.

Get out in nature.

Expose yourself to the great outdoors every day to reap some mental health benefits—there is a strong body of scientific literature to show that spending time in a green space can have positive effects on your mental well-being. Harris lives by this rule daily: “I really made it a huge priority to walk in Central Park pretty much every day,” he says. “Even if I’m doing a phone call, I try to do it while walking through the park if I can.”

There are so many ways we can power up our emotional resilience, and most of them only take a few moments from a 24-hour day. Find the ones that work best for you and keep going strong.