Personal Trainer Else Green

How Listening to Our Emotions can Aid in Our Mental Well Being

By Personal Trainer, Else Green

In light of October Emotional Wellness Month, the APJCC is putting mental health at the forefront and helping members find ways to connect with their own mental and emotional well-being.

When our emotions arise, we are often halted by their intensity and can either overreact or stifle them and under-react. But just like our physical health, emotions have a healthy balance and in a supported state of flow, they can be truthful messengers in what we need for a secure sense of balance in our lives and relationships.

Emotions often show up together, and it can take some time to figure out what we are feeling in the moment.  Sometimes the best way to uncover what you’re feeling is to ask yourself what is the strongest emotion you are feeling in that moment. Emotions often show up together to help us let go, create a boundary, or seek safety.

Let’s take the fire of anger for example. When it visits us, we are often swept into rage and fury. Some people are volatile and expressive, while others may stew and fume. But what is anger really telling us? Generally, anger arises to tell us a boundary has been crossed and something or someone must be protected. The gift of anger is it comes with energy, and it is often that energy that allows us to set that boundary by speaking truthfully about what we need. The truth of anger is that it comes up when something matters to you, whether personally, socially, or globally. This, too, is the gift of anger, because it is an honest compass of our values.

Some healthy ways to support anger is by practicing setting boundaries. Learn to say “no” or “that doesn’t work for me.” Remember that when we do things we don’t want to do, we feel resentment, which is a softened form of anger. Anger is asking you to show up and speak up for yourself. If your body needs an outlet for anger, try plank pose. Tighten the center of your body and aim for balance and stability. Ask yourself, “What am I angry about?” and get specific. Remain there until fatigue wobbles in and move to child’s pose. Any relief?

Touch into the depth of sadness and herein lies another messenger.  When sadness shows up, we are often slowed down and experience a weighted heart or body. Sadness begs to be felt and released, often with tears. That is the question of sadness: what needs to be released and let go? And what needs to be rejuvenated? Sometimes these are the things and relationships that no longer serve us. In letting these things go, we often make space for something that is closer to our truth… Be it a job, a relationship, a location. This is where we find the rejuvenation.

Healthy ways to support sadness is to soften yourself. Put on cozy clothes, wrap yourself in soft things, surround yourself with pillows and think cocoon.  It is in this place you can find what has been lost or needs to be let go.  When that loss can be named, you can often find the space to look ahead for what will restore and rejuvenate you. If your body needs to express sadness, sit cross-legged with arms outstretched in a V position. Close your eyes and inhale. As you exhale, hum and allow the hum to resonate in your face, forehead and chest.  Try and hold your arms here as you ask yourself what needs to be let go.  Take breaks as needed.  This is meant as an open-hearted meditation.

Fear is another intense emotion that visits us. Fear brings us right back to instinct and intuition. Fear allows you to hone your senses so you can be aware on how to react to what is perceived as unsafe or dangerous. If you are not ready to react, fear freezes you until you are able to make that conscious choice. When we allow fear to flow in a healthy manner and not be halted, it can bring clarity, focus and attentiveness. The question to ask yourself when fears shows up is, “What action needs to be taken?” Fear often comes forward to give you the focus you need to deal with a change. When we clearly identify the fear, we can respond to it rather than react. Often we need to take a moment (freeze) to give space to name the danger we sense. Once it is named, we can determine what action needs to be taken to keep ourselves and loved ones safe.

In finding ways to support healthy, flowing fear, allow yourself to tune in deeply to your senses. Take a full account of what you see and hear. Ask yourself what you are afraid of and what action needs to happen. If your fear is perceived in the vivid mind, can you play it out to envision your action?  To physically flow with fear, play with balance.  Stand with your two feet grounded and then move to a single leg balance or tree pose. Witness how the discomfort or fear of losing balance creates an action in your body. Ask yourself what you are afraid of and let this pose guide you there.

By learning to listen and allowing some of the uncomfortable emotions to flow, we can decipher the  signals to let go, take action, or seek safety.  Remind yourself that we can get swept into a sea of feelings, so take a step back and identify the strongest emotion in the moment.  Often your anger will be protecting you from a loss until you are ready to let go.  Or your fear will be guiding you to a safer space because a boundary has been crossed. A healthy relationship with our more uncomfortable emotions allows us to accept our own self with compassion and kindness.  It can also guide us to steps we need to take in finding balance in the daily interaction of our lives and relationships with others. With practice, we can see that when people around us show anger, fear or melancholy, that they are coming from spaces of crossed boundaries, perceived threat and loss.

May you find ways to invite these emotions into your life with support and awareness, as they guide you towards your full and true self.

With hopes for your mental and physical well-being,