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HEALTHWATCH


LivingLife Intentionally


EMOTIONALFITNESSINTHENEWYEAR


and when we strive for perfection, we set ourselves up for failure. It has been said so often it is almost cliché — make your New Year’s resolution to lose some weight and get in better physical condition. But what about our emotional condition? We rarely take time to focus on that. Mental or emotional healthrefers toyouroverallpsychologicalwell-being. It includes the way you feel about yourself, the quality of your relationships, and your ability to manage your feelings and deal with difficulties. Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health issues. Mental


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and emotional health involves the ability to cope with and adjust to the continual stresses of everyday living, maintaining friendships, feeling content and confident, and having a balance between work and play. Everyone experiences loss, sadness and difficulties. These are normal


aspects of life. The difference is that people with good emotional health have an ability to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. People who are emotionally fit have learned to cope with difficult situations and maintain a positive outlook. They remain in control, determined, adapt- able and creative in bad times as well as good. However, there are situations when it becomes difficult to be resilient,


especially when faced with a traumatic experience or loss. During these tough economic times, many people are confronting the new challenges of job loss or financial problems. Cydney Savage, LPC, Director, AtlantiCare Behavioral Health, says she sees more people seeking help due to these circumstances. They are trying to cope with some of the most common emotional issues we face today — anxiety, depression, even anger. Savage says the good news is that no one is alone. Help is available in many areas, from professional counselors, to friends and clergy. All you have to do is ask. In addition, there are other steps you can take to improve your emotional well-being. Although we are pulled in so many directions, it is imperative that we


take care of ourselves first, according to Savage. She compares it to the safety instructions we receive before a flight on an airplane. In case of emergency,


34 January 2011 | LIFESTYLE njlifestyleonline.com


ou know that person whose life is always together... who never gets upset and has perfect balance and harmony every day? Neither do I. None of us has an idealistic life or is in absolute sync with the world


Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health issues. Mental and emotional health involves the ability to cope with and adjust to the continual stresses of everyday living, maintaining friendships, feeling content and confident, and having a balance between work and play.


we are always told to put the oxygen mask on our- selves before our loved ones since they are depending on us to help them. It is the same in everyday life. We have to stay emotionally fit for the people who depend on us. Start with your physical health. Taking care of


your body is an important element in mental and emotional health. The connection between mind and body is undeniable, and when you improve your physical health, you feel a greater sense of overall well-being. The activities you engage in and the daily choices you make affect the way you feel physically and emotionally. Here are a few basics that most of us know, yet


don’t always follow. Get enough rest. Most people need seven to eight hours of sleep each night in order to function optimally. Focus on good nutrition and improve your eating habits. What you eat affects your energy and mood, so the better you eat, the better you feel. Get some physical activity. Exercise releases the feel-good hormones known as endorphins. It is a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression, so look for small ways to add activity to your day. To get the most mental health benefits, aim for 30 minutes or more of exercise per day. Of course, maintaining good physical health means we should limit alcohol and avoid cigarettes and other drugs. We are in midst of the darkest, coldest part of our year, and for many people, that triggers normal feelings of sadness. Savage advises getting a dose of sunlight every day or investing in a light box. Sunlight lifts your mood, so try to get at least 10 to 15 minutes of sun per day. Savage offers some other advice on maintaining emotional health. First


of all, she says, don’t make resolutions. We all know the old story with resolutions. They are usually very lofty goals and the majority of people don’t follow through, which makes them feel like a failure. As an alternative, set realistic intentions. Write a list of what you intend to do better this year, focusing on all aspects of your life such as emotional, spiritual, financial, health and education. Instead of a resolution in which you say “I want to lose 20 pounds by February,” say that you “intend to eat healthier meals and walk when you can”. Savage says it’s also important to surround yourself with friends and stay connected. Call an old friend, join an organization, become a part of a group. In addition, maintain a sense of balance. Life cannot be all about work and obligations.Take some time to


By ROBIN STOLOFF


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