11 Ways To Make Yourself Emotionally Strong & Deal With Stress More Effectively
Whether it pertains to your relationships, career, or your own personal well-being, knowing how to tough through fickle situations by finding ways to be emotionally strong can positively influence your life. When it comes to stress, it can affect a lot of people in different ways: some might cry every time they're frustrated (guilty!) while others become quiet and hide until they feel better. While there's nothing wrong with either of those situations, knowing how to manage your emotions and dictate why you're feeling them can help you understand yourself much better so you stop considering yourself weak.
"Emotional strength comes from allowing yourself to be both independent and dependent. This means building up your internal resources and becoming comfortable seeking and accepting help," says psychotherapist and author Karen R. Koenig M.Ed., L.C.S.W., in an interview with Bustle over email.
Learning how to cope with life's misfortunes is a great way to build your emotional strength. Here are 11 ways you can make yourself emotionally strong.
1. Honor The Strength Of Your Past
It can be hard to be emotionally strong if you keep living in the past. You gotta throw away those thoughts and accept the fact that those struggles made you who you are today — which is a strong, beautiful person. "Many times we have bitterness from the holocaust, slavery or even family 'traditions' of abuse. We can instead, honor the struggles and our cultures in a way that is positive. Don't discount the struggle, but see how it can be a way to honor the strength in our past. If we can honor the strength of the past, we are a result of that past, so we honor ourselves and become stronger," says zen psychotherapist and neuromarketing strategist Michele Paiva in an interview with Bustle over email.
2. Make Healthy Choices
Most of your emotional strength usually comes from within. That means you'll most likely feel your best if you eat healthy and treat your body with care. "Know that every time you make healthy choices, you strengthen yourself. Did you choose an apple over a candy bar; one point for resiliency! Did you take a walk and enjoy the view? Another score for resiliency. Honor each time you create health," says Paiva.
3. Help Others In Need
It sounds strange to help other people when you're trying to figure things out for yourself. But when you're altruistic, you can become strong because the care you show for others can resonate and leak into caring for your own life, too. "Helping others builds empathy and empathy makes us better people, period. That builds resiliency," says Paiva.
4. Smile & Laugh More
For myself, there's no greater feeling than genuinely laughing out loud. It's a great way for someone to flood their system with happy hormones and lift their spirits when they're feeling down. Opt to watch a funny movie, or schedule more dates with people that lift you up. The more you engage in this type of lifestyle, the better you may feel. "Laughing from a pure place (not sarcasm) helps to strengthen your lungs, heart, emotions and brings people toward you rather than away; a support system filled with smiles is a wonderful way to increase resiliency," says Paiva.
5. Embrace Your Adversities
Don't beat yourself up when things don't go your way. Failing is a part of life and how you choose to challenge and accept it can truly alter your perspective in a positive way. "Practice some positive psychology and begin to embrace all of your challenges and adversities as your greatest teachers and forces for change," says holistic wellness coach Pax Tandon in an interview with Bustle over email.
6. Express Your Emotions
If you're feeling down, don't take that as a sign of weakness. Instead of sheltering your emotions, embrace them for what they are."Whether it's shedding tears or screaming into a pillow, giving yourself the freedom express and permission to be human will make you stronger from the inside out," says Tandon.
7. Look For Patterns In Your Behavior
"Do you always end up feeling like a victim? Pick emotionally unhealthy friends or lovers and therefore end up unhappy? Sabotage your successes and achievements? Think you want to be alone, then hate it?" says Koenig about looking for patterns in your behavior. Whether you feel like a victim when something goes wrong or you talk down to yourself when you slip up, examine these situations and figure out why you do and feel these things to fix these emotions and make yourself strong.
8. Stop Judging Yourself
"Stop judging yourself. Lead with self-compassion and curiosity about why you have particular thoughts and feelings and why you engage in specific behaviors," says Koenig. Embrace your emotions for what they are and don't try to shut them out when you feel them. You don't want to engage in negative self-talk because it can make you feel worse about yourself.
9. Take Emotional Risks
The more you put yourself out there, the stronger you may become. You want to exercise your emotions even if it makes you feel a little uncomfortable. "Take emotional risks that feel manageable to put yourself in situations that make you mildly uncomfortable but that may help you grow emotionally," says Koenig.
10. Recognize Your Emotions
Don't punish yourself for having certain feelings. It's natural to feel down, angry or even jealous. When you're experiencing any negative emotions, thoughtfully examine them and figure what you want your next step to be. "Allow yourself to recognize and accept every emotion you have and then decide if you want to pursue this emotion or let it go," says Koenig says about recognizing your emotions.
11. Talk To A Therapist
"Going into therapy, even if it's for only a short period of time, can be a great way to work on your emotional issues and inner resilience level," says psychotherapist and author of Your Best Age is Now Robi Ludwig in an interview with Bustle over email. Don't think that going to see a therapist is a bad thing. Vocalizing your worries to someone is a great way to figure out why you're feeling a certain way so you can build your emotional strength.
Allow your strength to come from within, whether that means you talk to a therapist or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Embrace your emotions for what they are and soon you'll become emotional strong.