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March 2023

Strengthen Your Emotional Fitness

Doing reps at the gym builds muscle. But did you know there are also mental exercises that strengthen your mind?

The next time you feel stressed or anxious, try one of these strategies. With time and practice, you can increase your self-confidence—and your hope for the future.

Give yourself advice

When you’re in a tough situation, imagine how you’d advise a close friend dealing with the same worries. Thinking of it this way can help you come up with fresh ideas to take better control of your problem.

Write it out

If the day’s news causes you anxiety, stop scrolling social media and turn off the TV. Pick up a pen and rewrite one of the headlines that upsets you—such as “Climate Dangers Lie Ahead.” This will help you process the information more slowly, making it less scary. 

Name your feelings

Getting specific about your emotions allows you to feel more comfortable with them. Search online for a tool called a “feelings wheel.” Use it to pinpoint your true feelings—for instance, excluded, overwhelmed, or jealous—rather than just happy or sad.

Relax your body

Easing tension in your muscles also eases your mind. Try progressive relaxation. In a comfortable position, inhale deeply and tighten the muscles in your feet and lower legs, and then exhale and relax them. Repeat with your upper legs. Gradually work your way up until your whole body is unwound.

Shake things up

Our brains don’t always like the unknown—that’s why uncertain times leave us feeling unstable. Learn to cope with unpredictability by trying new things in your daily life. Take a different route on your walk or try that recently opened restaurant.

Stop the spiral

Fearing the worst can turn into a nonstop loop, making us feel like bad things are already happening. When your thinking turns dark, take a moment to breathe. Consider the best-case scenario instead—and whether you can play a role in creating it.

Take action

Big issues like climate change, politics, or racial injustice can feel out of your control. But there are ways individuals can make a difference, such as voting, volunteering, and getting involved in the community. Taking just one step can help you feel empowered instead of hopeless.


Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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