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  • Writer's picturePatricia Faust

Time to Develop Emotional Fitness

Quite a few years ago I was working as a clinical laboratory technologist. Even though the lab would probably look primitive now compared to the advanced technology of today’s labs, there was one procedure that has stood the test of time. Every test that we performed, every result we reported was done within the parameters of standard operating procedures. This provided continuity from shift to shift and day to day, and technologist to technologist. In this time of coronavirus, labs have been pushed to the limit. But no matter what the circumstances, the testing was completed, and the results reported.

Why do I tell you this story? Right now, we are inundated with problems to solve every day it seems. The circumstances for each problem may be different. But our brain is responsible for finding solutions. How can we ever keep up with the stresses of the day and still be capable of clear thinking? Why do we sometimes divert to an emotional reaction? It may sound silly, but we need to have a plan in place on how to react and move through the more stressful incidents of our lives. There are multiple big ticket stresses that are draining our brains of the energy to think clearly. The more we push to find a solution, the more likely we are to burn out. This is stress in its toxic form. I imagine you are thinking – “great, just great. I recognize that I have a problem that I have to solve but my brain just isn’t working. I feel numb.” Unrelenting stress sabotages our brain. The beauty of how our brain works is lost in the flood of cortisol cascading through our brain and body.

Here’s your plan. No matter how difficult it may be, acknowledge any positives and comment on them. I know it seems that we shouldn’t have to do that. Our brain, however, is always on alert and skews to the negative. As we start noticing positive interactions, we will be training our brain to be more positive. Strengthen your brain. Anything that builds the brain will make a critical difference on how we think and feel.

Because emotions are a reactive response, we need to build emotional fitness. Emotional fitness is the capacity to think on your feet when the ground is crumbling underneath you. Check in with yourself multiple times a day. Acknowledge the emotions and the thoughts that you are experiencing and keep a journal of your ups and downs. This detective work can start to help you pinpoint what is triggering your emotional response. Don’t make your emotions wrong. Our emotions can bring out shame and guilt because we think we shouldn’t feel that way. The moment that we give ourselves permission to feel the emotion that’s the moment we bring light into the darkness. Win the battle in your mind before it becomes real. Most of our fears and stressors are caused by what we think could happen.

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