When it comes to dealing with life obstacles, we all cope in different ways, but some of us buckle under the pressure more than others. No one wants to feel weak or out of control, so it's important to find ways to build up our emotional strength. Just like we focus on getting our body's in shape or practicing healthy habits, we can also work on improving our mental wellbeing and how we handle difficult events.
"Emotional strength is a broad term, because it can encompass so many aspects of life," says says Dorian Crawford, PsyD over email. "In general, it will never be a negative thing to focus on cultivating emotional strength by looking at yourself, where you are, and deciding where you want to be down the line. That internal examination gives a structure for goals, highlighting areas that may need a little bolstering up and focusing on areas where we are feeling solid."
It's normal for everyone to have their moments, but if you constantly feel like you're drowning in your emotions, you might want to take some steps to improve your emotional wellbeing. If you want to improve your coping skills, reduce your anxiety and depression, and just feel better overall, consider these 10 tips to help you build up your emotional strength.
1. Set Boundaries
Whether it's with friends, family, your partner, or even your coworkers, boundary setting is important to apply to all parts of your life. "If you know where you stand and what is acceptable to you in all of these areas, you have less chance of being taken advantage of or feeling undervalued," says Crawford. "When you know what is tolerable or not, acceptable or not, reasonable or not, on your terms, you will have a solid foundation of 'emotional strength.'"
2. Don't Fear The Past
"It is never a bad idea to do an emotional autopsy of past painful experiences," says Crawford. "Our mistakes teach us how to make different choices and decisions. We start to see patterns and decide to build on the ones that are working and abandon the dead weight of less successful outcomes." If it's hard to you to rehash old experiences, consider writing them down. Writing can help improve your emotional and physical wellbeing, as it is a way to release emotions without judgment.
3. Reach Out
"It is never a sign of weakness to reach out to others to scaffold around you when you are weak and provide you a soft place to fall. The person who does not seek others will eventually buckle under the weight of their own struggles or become isolated and resentful." Research from Harvard University shows that people who have quality relationships with people and strong social support show greater happiness through life.
4. Practice Mindfulness
"Knowing yourself, paying attention to your responses, and practicing settling your body down when feeling overwhelmed is a way to build emotional strength," says Crawford. Practicing mindfulness can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. "Some ways to do this are through exercise, spiritual practice, yoga and meditation," she says.
5. Allow Yourself To Be Vulnerable
"A person who opens themselves up to others learns what real friendship, love, trust, sincerity, and genuineness feels like," says Crawford. "When you open your heart, you live from a place of richness and clarity versus skepticism and insecurity. That gives you the wisdom to judge situations from a place of emotional strength instead of naivety."
6. Learn To Enjoy Your Own Company
There are times when we inevitably have to be alone, and we need to be able to make the best of those moments. "If you resist this one, it's imperative you work on it," says Alena Gerst, LCSW, RYT over email. "Once you get to know yourself better, you may really enjoy that cup of coffee all by yourself. No friend, no phone, just you."
7. Pay Attention To How You Speak To Yourself
Turning negative self-talk into positive thinking can help reduce your risk of depression, lower levels of distress, and improving your coping skills, according to Mayo Clinic. "If you tend to be critical of yourself, it is important that you find another way to talk to yourself," says Gerst. "Sending yourself positive messages is the pillar of emotional strength."
8. Take Care Of Your Body
"The mind and body are inseparable," says Gerst. "By taking good care of your body, your mind will reap the benefits." Eating a healthy diet can help fight off anxiety and depression, and regularly exercising can help reduce your stress levels, improve your self-confidence, combat depression, and alleviate anxiety, according to multiple studies.
9. Ditch The Drama
I"n a world where it is hard to walk out your front door without it being documented on social media, take a second to think about where you want your emotional energy to go," says Crawford. "Social media gives us a world where we can jump into the middle of all sorts of situations that we wouldn't have even known about in the past. For your own piece of mind, evaluate the situation and chose your battles."
10. Consider Therapy
Speaking with a therapist can you help you gain strength, whether your issues are big or small. "Finding a therapist that you click with can help illuminate your strengths, identify your growing edges, and delineate the healthy the path to goals," says Crawford.
Emotional strength doesn't mean you're perfect — it just means you have the skills to cope with whatever life hands you.
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