Mental Fitness: Surfing the Waves
Like waves on the ocean, feelings continuously ebb and flow. They are always in motion. If we can learn to surf the waves, then we strengthen our mental fitness in the face of challenges and adversity.
At Sapp's Fitness Garage, we believe Fitness is a State of Mind which means that your fitness first begins on the inside, and then, through time and effort, manifests toward the outside.
Fitness expands beyond your physical strength and outward appearance. Like the vast ocean, our lives are engulfed with numerous forces that can be as obvious as the violent waves during a storm or the glistening ripples that lap the shore on a sunny day. However, like the hidden lifeforms and mysteries lurking underneath the sea's surface, most of our mental state is related to that which is invisible: our beliefs, our thoughts, and our emotions...which then create the visible behaviors and results in our lives.
The sea of life, whether stormy or calm, is one and the same, continuously transferring from one state to the other. The goal is to surf our waves without getting crushed or knocked down by the break of the shore.
Here are a few thoughts to consider to help you surf the emotional waves of life:
Feel comfort in knowing it will pass. Whatever you're feeling, it will eventually subside. You won't feel sad, angry, or fearful forever. You will feel happy and calm again. Remember, our emotions are are in continual flux between our glistening ripples and our stormy waves.
Embrace the resistance. Acknowledge your feelings and know that it is normal and okay to have these emotions. You don't have to fight your feelings or feel guilty for having them. Accept these feelings and be good to yourself while you ride the situation out.
Celebrate the joys, big and small! Science supports that one negative emotion has 3 to 5 times the impact on our brains that positive ones. This means we must work 3 to 5 x harder to keep our positives highlighted! So, celebrate all your little wins...every. single. day! Be grateful for as much as you can. Write them down in a journal or share them with others. And definitely celebrate the BIG WINS when they come your way. Keep your victories at the crest of your wave!
View challenges as opportunities. Instead of allowing your negative feelings to break you or push you down, use a different perspective to reflect on what you have learned and gained from the experience. Have faith that there is a purposeful lesson you are gaining from it!
Get busy distracting yourself. When all we do is think on a bad experience, our thoughts will prevail and make us feel bad. We can only have one thought at a time, so if we find something positive that distracts our attention, then we can surf that wave! Engage in a creative project, tend to a needed task, exercise your body, or help someone out. Not only will these activities get your mind off of the situation, but you are then doing something good or needed for your life and for others.
Exercise your body. Worth repeating, exercise is good for the body, mind, and spirit. As your heart beats faster pumping blood through your body and oxygen intake increases, you develop cardio endurance and increase muscle, bone and joint strength, not to mention decreasing chances of health problems. Exercise helps with brain health, too. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals in the body and you will get an automatic boost to your state of mind. Add some music to your movements, and you can soar above that wave!
Avoid the foods that trash your mood and look for the rainbow. Instead of turning to the unhealthy comfort foods that seem to call your name when you feel bad, know that eating healthy foods can combat your negative feelings and help you see the rainbow on the other side of this moment. Think about how you feel when you eat a heavy, rich, or fattening meal...your digestive tract may feel clogged or upset, your body becomes lethargic or tired, and then you might get mad at yourself for eating something you know isn't good for you. All this does is compound your negative feelings. Focus on eating a heart-healthy diet including whole grains, lean proteins, and the rainbow of fruits and vegetables all known to provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to stay healthy and feeling good. Here's a great resource for more info: https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/foods-feel-better
We all have storm clouds that whip up tumultuous waves of negative feelings, but if we can teach ourselves to ride the crest of that wave and visualize ourselves surfing high above the breaks, the better we become at strengthening our mental fitness...as well as our body and spirit. Surf your waves and know there's a rainbow waiting to be discovered.