Whether we like it or not, we all give off and receive energy from others. It sounds cheesy at first, very “peace, love, and all things hippy,” but think about how much someone’s poor attitude can affect you. Some guy cuts you off on the road and you yell in outrage, your heart rate spiking momentarily, your palms get sweaty as your hands tense and squeeze the steering wheel, and you mutter in frustration for a minute or two before getting home where you walk in the door with the sour taste of road rage in your mouth. All because of that guys “energy”.
We were built to be able to experience a great range of emotions both high and low and then return to homeostasis quickly. From experience, we all know this can be challenging though. Both have a profound effect on our well being and it’s important to take stock of how we interact with them.
Negative emotions, such as sadness, resentment, or anger take a large toll on our physical well being. When held for prolonged periods of time, they can cause physiological changes such as and increased chance of heart attack from anxiety, or increases in levels of inflammation-promoting proteins from depression. Not only do these emotions take on physical changes but they impact our mental state of being. Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to let your good nutrition go when you’re upset or sad about something? Many of the things we hold in high regard when we’re in a positive state seem to lose importance when we’re overwhelmed with negative emotions.
The upside is that we have the ability to combat these negative emotions with positive ones or at least tools to devalue the negative emotions we’re feeling. To do so we have to find ways to “let go” of the negative emotion for the sake of bringing our bodies back to homeostasis. This can happen in the form of positive self-talk, using a practiced breathing activity, meditating, prayer, the list is endless. What must happen however is for the mind to allow the emotion to run its course and then re-direct the body towards a more centered state.
One of my favorite tools when I find I’m holding on to a particular negative emotion is to close my eyes and picture the event that created the emotion in a bubble. I’ll allow the event to play through in my head, acknowledge the negative emotion that occurs, then let the bubble float away with the event in it. This action allows you to take a step back and see the big picture by realizing the event that happened is not the only thing happening in your life and allowing the body and mind to move on.
To help prepare your mind and body for the inevitable negative events that happen throughout our lives, it’s critical to practice finding positive emotions and letting them thrive in our minds. CJ likes to talk to athlete’s about positions of success when they’re tired. Standing tall with eyes open, and standing in front of whatever objective is in front of them. Doing so keeps the body and mind strong and existing together. When the eyes start to close, the hands go to the knees, or someone sits down, the mind is shutting down to the stress that’s occurred. Just like we train to get better at fitness, we need to train our minds to get better at positivity.
There are plenty of tools to help with this:
- Often in the middle of a workout it can feel like the world is crashing in around you. Right there in that moment when everything is starting to go black, slap a HUGE grin on your face like a baby with an entire cake in front of their face. The act of smiling can trigger that positive flow of emotion that will help you to push through the end of a workout.
- Appreciate the world around you. When was the last time you walked outside your front door or office and just looked up at the sky or noticed the small bits of nature around you. Maybe it’s a casual breeze cooling you off, or a bird chirping in the middle of the city. Whatever it may be, appreciating the world around you creates a positive emotion of gratefulness that we often take for granted.
- Take big deep breaths, and try to think of nothing. The act of trying to clear your mind creates a space that allows your body to reset. Instead of holding tension in your shoulders because work was tough that day, when you oxygenate your body with deep inhales and exhales you’ll find that bit by bit your muscles will ease and let go.
- When you can’t think of anything positive in your own life, find something positive someone else is doing and TELL THEM! The power of compliments are massive and very underrated. When you pay someone a GENUINE compliment you inherently know you’re making that person’s day better and you receive the positive energy they’re exuding afterwards.
If any of you have been in my group classes recently you might have been subjected to a practice whereby each person looks around them and tells people nearby something positive they noticed about them that day. It can be workout related or not. What’s important is that each person is taking a moment to really think about that other person for something they admire or have done well that day. While some people chuckle, I do this for a very specific reason. I want everyone to end their day knowing that someone appreciated or noticed something they did.
Believing that you’ve done something well will have a tremendous impact on your being and start a snowball in the positive direction. Start making a practice of bringing positive energy or thought in your life. Give any of the above mentioned ideas a try once a day for the next two weeks. Hopefully you can create some positive energy that will make your life just a little easier.