10 Mindfulness Exercises For Losing That Emotional Weight In Your Heart

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Mindfulness Exercises For Emotional Wellness & Mental Health
Self, Health And Wellness

When thinking about a workout routine, most people think about physical health but what about your mental and emotional health?

Emotional weight weighs us down similar to how physical weight weighs us down. We have thoughts about things that have happened in our lives that feel heavy. We have beliefs about who we should be, how others should act, and what our relationships should be like and they weigh us down.

These things feel heavy and limit our emotional mobility just like physical weight feels heavy and limits our physical mobility.

RELATED: How To Practice Self-Care When Love Messes With Your Emotions & Mental Health

Different goals have different workout routines. And depending on your physical goals, you do a certain kind of physical workout.

Do you want stronger abs? Do sit-ups. Do you want a stronger back? Do a daily plank. Do you want more defined arm muscles? Lift some weights.

Similarly, depending on your emotional wellness goals, there are different options for an emotional workout.

Do you want to feel less overwhelmed? Use a paper calendar. Do you want more control over your emotions? Meditate. Do you want to feel calmer? Do a daily brain dump or thought download.

What are your emotional goals? How much extra emotional weight are you carrying?

Here are 10 emotional workouts to add to your workout plans to better your emotional health.

1. Do a thought download

This workout is for everyone. How you think about your life drives what you do. On the days when we focus on helpful, strong thoughts, we feel amazing. On the days you let your unhelpful thoughts affect you, you feel heavy, unmotivated, and apathetic.

To do a thought download, take out a piece of paper and a pen. Set a timer for 3 minutes and start writing.

What are you thinking about? How are those thoughts making you feel? What stories are you making up?

Thought downloads help you process emotions and see where you’re holding on to negative thoughts that weigh you down. Choose to focus on different thoughts and lose some emotional weight.

2. Speak to yourself via sticky notes

Want a workout that helps you feel better? The thoughts we focus on drive how we feel. This workout helps you control your thoughts and puts you back in control of how you want to feel.

What are some of the negative things you've told yourself? What are some of your negative thought patterns?

Go on the offense! If you speak negatively of your appearance in the morning, put a sticky on your mirror that says "Good morning, beautiful" or "Your body does great things for you." 

I have a sticky near my computer that says, "You help many." On the visor of my car, one says, "How can you be your best self right now?"

The first step to removing emotional weight is awareness. How can you use sticky notes to disrupt some of your negative thinking patterns?

3. Have a morning routine

Mornings are a crucial time to set ourselves up for success. When we wake up, our brain is trained to look for what is wrong in our lives. It looks for what went wrong the day before and what might go wrong today.

Disrupt that pattern. That's our lizard, primitive brain that needs to be managed. 

The important piece to remember is that there’s nothing wrong with you if you wake up in a negative space. It’s evidence that that’s a great opportunity for growth and an emotional workout routine.

4. Ask yourself powerful questions

Looking for a workout with little effort but big results? Start paying attention to what kinds of questions you asking yourself during the day. Do you know that our brain considers it its job to find the answer to those questions?

If we ask, "Why am I so stupid? Why don’t I have motivation? Why am I so lazy?", it will go to work to find reasons for you to continue to feel unmotivated, stupid, and lazy. It looks for evidence to support the question you’re asking.

On the contrary, when we ask, "What is going well for me? How can I feel great today? How can I help the world today?", your brain gets to work to find the answers. Get your brain to work for your emotional health, not against it.

Your brain can’t help to find answers to the questions you ask. That is what the brain is trained to do. What are you asking your brain to look for?

5. Start scheduling

Looking for a workout to manage your overwhelm or anxiety? Plan your days with a paper calendar. It is the most powerful tool I use to live a calmer, less reactive life. I have written entire posts on scheduling yet all you need to get started is a piece of paper.

Write the numbers 5-24 down the left-hand column of the paper (one number for every 2 lines). Now, take out your to-do list. What are your top priorities for today? What is going on in your life?

Carpools, kid duties, work duties, physical duties (like sleep, exercise, meals) — write those things in a time slot (the numbers 5-24 are the times of the day) and get started.

The goal is not to have all your time slots full. Rather, it’s to have the things you want to get done and the things you have to get done written in a time slot.

We think we can accomplish so much more in a day than time allows, leading us to run around feeling like our pants are on fire. Look at your day and the actual time you have.

Maybe you don’t have time to do all of the laundry, clean the garage out, write that grant proposal, and organize your summer and winter clothes. What are your prioriites? The laundry and grant proposal? Write those on your paper for today and write the garage and your clothes for other days this week.

Scheduling allows you to set intentions and live more consciously. The goal is to write down when you’ll do all the things you want to do and to gain perspective with the actual amount of time in a day. You are in charge of how your days pass and you can deliberately create and manage your time.

Scheduling encourages me to be deliberate about how I spend my time and thus brings calm to my days.

RELATED: How To Take Care Of Yourself Emotionally (And Put Your Oxygen Mask On First)

6. Have some radical downtime workout

Want a workout that’s the equivalent of resting in child’s pose? Start including some blank time in your days. Yep, slow down. Better yet, just stop.

At some point in your day, do something that is aimless, that doesn’t involve your phone or have a purpose. Look at the trees. Count the tiles on your floor. Hug your child. Snuggle your dog. Breathe.

Write it on your calendar as "RD" and stop for 10 breaths or for 10 minutes. Find time each day to stop doing and just be. We are human beings, yet spend our time as human doings.

7. Meditate

Looking for a workout to make you less reactive? Start meditating.

I started meditating for 3 minutes a day on my 43rd birthday. It is the best gift I’ve ever given myself. Nothing has changed my life more. People who are interested in mediation often ask me what meditation gives me.

Where to start? It has given me self-awareness, self-compassion, the ability to complete a task, calmness when parenting, and a better ability to manage my emotions.

What has it taken from me? Stress. Anger. Anxiety. Overwhelm. Confusion. 

I now meditate between 10-20 minutes a day and just passed my 900 consecutive day mark (yay me!). 

8. Choose to be curious over furious

This type of workout is the equivalent to choosing an apple over a cookie. When someone does something and you feel triggered, pause and ask how you could look at what they’re doing with a curious mind instead of a furious mind.

I like saying to myself, "Isn’t that interesting that they’d do that?" or "I wonder why they did that?" or "I wonder what in their past has them thinking that is okay?" 

This helps me detach from taking someone else’s words or actions personally and instead see it for what it is, about them, not me. It helps me keep my emotional power which feels light and free.

Much like eating an apple over a cookie. It gives you a sense of lightness to be In control of yourself and the choices you’re making.

9. Take breathing breaks

This is a simple behavior to ameliorate your workout routine. It’s like stopping for water between your reps.

Set an alarm for 3-5 times during your day. When it goes off, count 3 of your breaths. Done. Emotional weight lessened.

10. Exercise

Yes, exercise is also an effective tool for losing emotional weight! When we choose to deliberately move our body, we decrease our stress, improve our sleep and digestion, and increase our confidence.

All of these factors play together to help us feel more in control emotionally. Try it. 

There you go, warriors! Those are 10 workouts that will help you lose your emotional weight.

But, before you head out to the emotional gym and start your workout plans, remember these 2 things first.

  • Start small: In the same way you don’t begin a physical workout with 75 lbs weights and 60 minutes of cardio, don’t put those expectations on yourself for your emotional workout. When I started meditating, I told myself that I need to meditate for 3 minutes a day, every day. When I started with my thought download, I set my timer for 2 minutes. 
  • Practice daily: Do you brush your teeth once and forever have clean teeth? Nope. Do you do 30 sit-ups and suddenly have a strong core? Nope. Do you meditate once and forever live in a calm and reactive free state? Nope. Rinse and repeat. When you find a workout that works for you, keep it. Make it a part of your routine. The great news is that in the same way physical exercise and routines get easier with practice (neuroplasticity), so do emotional habits.

It can be that easy.

Use these workouts to take the drama out of your life. Living consciously and intentionally feels so much better than the alternative. 

RELATED: How To Take Care of Yourself Emotionally By Understanding Energy

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Susie Pettit is a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Coach and Podcast host of the weekly Love Your Life Show. Sign up for her Weekly Warrior Newsletter

This article was originally published at SMBwell Website. Reprinted with permission from the author.