I think we can all agree on the fact that we often want to become a better version of ourselves. We want to be more physically fit, to react with more calm under stressful situations or read more self-development books. But I think that we also agree on the fact that we push ourselves to the limits until we are emotionally drained. We always want to achieve and have more, not always paying attention and care to our mind and body.

You have probably heard about the concept of emotional intelligence. It gained its momentum back in 1995 when Daniel Goleman launched his book with the same title. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to recognize your emotions and labeling them correctly. This allows you to understand others’ emotions and how they influence one’s behavior.

Understanding how emotions work offers you an inside into how your brain works. You will notice that your thoughts and emotions have a direct impact on your behavior. But usually, knowledge is not enough. If you want to change something in your life, you need to take action now.

We often fall into the trap of adopting habits that are damaging to our brains. For example, scrolling the newsfeed before going to sleep. The fact that you know that all devices emit a blue light that prevents you from falling asleep will not make you fall asleep faster. You need to stop using your phone or watching TV for at least one hour before going to sleep.

The same goes for our emotional and physical condition. Knowing how to identify and label our emotions help us deal with them. But only good habits will help us improve our emotional and physical condition.

You might wonder how are emotional and physical conditions interconnected. Our emotions and thoughts shape our behavior. Even though running or doing sports has a positive effect on our brain, some of us do not find the motivation to start or persuade it sometimes.

Today I am going to share 4 useful habits that will help you improve your emotional and physical condition.

1. Build Mental Flexibility

Build your mental flexibility

We often find ourselves following the spiral of rumination. Thinking about past mistakes we had done or things that we could have done differently. Rumination helps us form a negative thinking pattern that has effects on our mood, wellbeing, and behavior.

Rumination has another important negative effect: it drains you of motivation and self-confidence, key ingredients for a high level of wellbeing and contentment. How does this negative thinking pattern influence your emotions and behavior? Well, it is kind of a chain reaction.

Let’s take the example of ruminating about a presentation you have to do at work. Even though you prepared with lots of arguments and information, you still feel that it is not enough. Focusing on the thought that you are not good enough or well-prepared will make the anxiety appear. And because you have imagined that your presentation will be awful, your palms will sweat, your power of concentration will decrease, you will start forgetting key words and feel very nervous.

This is a good example of how certain thinking habits nurture the rise of negative emotions that have consequences on our behavior. You cannot just erase a habit; you need to replace it with another one.

So, every time you find yourself ruminating about what could go wrong, you should start shifting your attention to more positive things. It is the amount of attention we give to a thing that gives it power. Shifting, focusing and controlling your attention can help you concentrate on more useful and productive things.

However, training your attention can seem like an easy task, but you need the perseverance to make it work. The results are amazing and you will notice an improvement in your mood. A good exercise to train your attention and becoming more mentally flexible is mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness meditation helps you relax and observe your thoughts as they come and go. Just choose a comfy spot, close your eyes and breathe gently. Of course, if you try to not think about something, lots of thoughts will flood your mind. This is okay and normal. Just acknowledge that they have intruded your awareness and let them go. If you take 10 minutes per day to meditate, you will see that you will gain more control over your attentional processes. But this is only possible with constant exercise.

2. Exercise

Exercising

We should take care of our bodies too, not only of our minds. They have a huge influence over each other. Just as our emotions and thoughts influence the way we behave, so does the body. If our body is not feeling well, nor does our mind.

Exercising regularly is proven to have positive effects on our mood. During exercise, chemicals are released in your brain. These are making you feel calmer, relaxed and in a good mood. People who find time to exercise regularly say that it helped them to become more self-confident and anxiety-free.

Of course, we are all humans and our life is made by ups and downs. Exercising does not make all the negative emotions or situations go away. All people have bad and good moments when they feel more depressed or happier than ever. Exercising helps you regulate your emotions and it also helps you build your physical condition.

A body that is feeling good makes the mind feel good too. Exercising regularly has positive effects not only on your mood but also on your physical condition. The risk of injuries decreases and your flexibility increases.

3. Rest and Get Enough Sleep

Resting on bed

When I was a student, I often tried to find ways to earn some money on trips with my friends. I started offering writing services to students that had not wanted to invest time in making their thesis. But this along with learning for exams and writing my own assignments made me lose energy. Why? Because I started to shorten my sleep schedule. I barely found time to rest and enjoy myself. I was drained of energy and emotions and I started feeling weak and tired.

You have probably had some white nights before exams. Or you just skipped sleeping a night because you binge-watched TV shows. The effects of not getting enough sleep are obvious. Our physical and cognitive functioning is affected by the lack of sleep, so it would be great if you would manage to form a helpful habit of getting enough rest and sleep.

Recently, burnout has been recognized as a syndrome. This means that more and more people experience it and to prevent it you need to rest and sleep. To form a habit, you need to be persistent in waking up at the same hour every day. This might be difficult especially on weekend days, but it is to your advantage. Go to bed at the same hour and try to sleep the same number of hours per night.

When you have strenuous work, take breaks and rest your mind and body. Exercising can help you improve the quality of your sleep, so try to do it regularly. If you are not into jogging or playing basketball, try to spend time in nature. This will have a soothing and relaxing effect and the quality of your sleep will improve. And so, will your emotional and physical condition.

4. Find and Cultivate Your Values

Cultivate your valuesOur values reveal subtly through our behavior, emotions, and thoughts. Finding which they are might be a long and enduring process, but it is of huge help. Whenever you feel immersed in a negative thought pattern, you could shift your attention to something more productive (as I said earlier). But what should it be?

Knowing your values helps you find productive activities you can immerse yourself into. Whenever you feel down, having something that brings you joy and relief can be very helpful. For example, whenever I feel down, I have some activities that make me forget about what I could have done better. I like reading and watching documentaries about animals and nature. If the weather is sunny and nice, I usually take my hammock and go to a park and read. I instantly forget about my negative thoughts and also try to control and shift my attention (remember the first habit).

Just like this, think about your values and identify them. They make you who you are so every action related to them will make you feel better and more content.

Final Thoughts

Improving your emotional and physical condition might seem hard. At first, you do not necessarily feel that you are in control of your thoughts, but you need exercise and perseverance to do it. Our emotions influence the way we behave and we need to exercise our control over the attentional process to reach your goal.

You need to take care of both of your brain and body, as the way they function influences each other. Exercise regularly and spend time in nature. Sleep, get some rest and do not push your mind and body over the limits. Cultivate your values to find relief in times of distress.

Understanding how emotions work offers you an inside into how your brain works. Today I am going to share 4 useful habits that will help you improve your emotional and physical condition.