Welcome to Day 3 of the 7-day eMentalFitChallenge!
Staying active is important to help manage your stress and anxiety during this difficult time. We are committed to sharing with you some proven tools and strategies for reducing daily stress and anxiety levels. Exercising only takes a small part of your day, but the benefits are long lasting!
Today's subject relates to putting words to your emotions and taking care of your feelings of fear, stress and worries. We'll also talk about resistance training and cardiovascular exercise.
Wishing you a fine journey through this wonderful eMentalFitChallenge.
The CKA Team
Disclosure: Information in all emails of this eMentalFitChallenge is collated from various sources stated after each article. The main purpose is to present current publications on different subjects related to mental health that may be useful. The CKA / ACK will not be held responsible for any consequences or damages that may occur as a result of the use, misuse, misinterpretation or abuse of the information shared. We emphasize that the aim is to help guide you. Should anyone require guidance in interpreting any of the provided information, they should seek the advice of the proper specialist.
Why Saying "I Feel Bad" can Actually Make You Feel Better
Scientists call it "affect labelling" but more simply it means "putting feelings into words." Understanding how this works might just change the way you respond to your emotions.
When we're experiencing negative emotionswhether it's anxiety or anger, stress or sadness, frustration or fearit can be really tempting to ignore what we're feeling or push it down. Unpleasant emotions, well, they're just that: unpleasant. And they're just plain uncomfortable. We might think that acknowledging our emotions, saying them out loud or writing them down, might make them more intense or last longer. Maybe we're afraid to get real about how we feel precisely because we believe that verbalizing our feelings will make them more real and give them more power over us, but that's not true!
The pandemic has been incredibly hard in so many ways. If you've lost loved ones, the pain may be unbearable. If you've lost your job or your business, you may be feeling hopeless. If you were already vulnerable before the pandemic, chances are you're suffering more now. Recent research from CMHA and UBC showed that people who already had mental health issues going into the pandemic were some of the worst off. This was also true for Indigenous peoples, as well as people who are young, are LGBTQ2S+ or have a disability. The flood of negative emotions might be overwhelming at times, and it can easily feel that our only option is to push down what we're really feeling and put on a brave face.
In fact, studies have shown that putting words to feelings is far more helpful than we might have thought. Putting feelings into words can reduce the force of negative emotions. So what feels like hurt can actually help.
It might not seem like saying something as simple as, "I feel bad," (or anxious or sad or angry) should do much to help you feel better. But neuroscience tells us it will. A neuroimaging study from Lieberman and a team of researchers found that the act of turning your negative emotions into language disrupts and reduces activity in the amygdala, the part of your brain that drives your responses to stress and fear. When you see a yellow light, you hit the brakes. When you put feelings into words, it's like you are hitting the brakes on your emotional responses.
Another group of scientists found that labelling emotions increases activity in the prefrontal and temporal regions of the brainregions that are responsible for processing words and encoding their meaning. In other words, having a specific label for what we're feeling seems to change the activity in our brains. It helps us feel calmer and helps us understand what we're going through.
A more recent real-world study examined the effects of affect labelling on 74,478 people who use Twitter. They found that tweets about negative emotions were followed by an immediate and rapid reduction in negative feelings.
It is remarkable, really, that just by saying the words 'I feel bad,' emotions immediately return to their baseline.
The takeaway from all this science is clear. Naming our feelings can help reduce the intensity of our negative emotions. Looking away, numbing ourselves and suffering in silence only makes things worse.
Want to see the science in action? Check out our "7 ways to calm your inner world" and put the science to work for you. Name it, don't numb it. You'll be surprised how much it helps.
If your emotions are overwhelming, persistent and/or are interfering with your daily functioning, it's important to seek mental health support.
Feelings of Fear, Stress and Worry Are Normal in a Crisis
Taking Care of your Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic is new and unexpected. This situation can be unsettling and can cause a sense of loss of control. It is normal for people and communities to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or worried. People may react in different ways. Some common feelings may include:
- Fear of becoming ill or infected with COVID-19, or infecting others
- A sense of being socially excluded or judged by others
- Fear of being separated from loved ones due to isolation or physical distancing
- Feelings of helplessness, boredom, loneliness and depression as a result of isolation or physical distancing
- Fear of losing your job or not being able to work and struggling financially.
- Concern about your children's education and well-being
Care for Your Mental and Physical Wellbeing
- Stay informed but take breaks from social media, watching, reading, or listening to news stories
- Practice physical distancing, but stay connected. Talk to friends or family about your feelings and concerns through email, phone calls, video chats and social media platforms
- Practice mindfulness. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate.
- Try to eat healthy meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep
- Consider how to take advantage of any unexpected flexibility in your daily routine.
- Focus on the positive aspects of your life and things you can control.
- Be kind and compassionate to yourself and others
- If you can, minimize substance use. If you do use substances, practice safer use and good hygiene.
You're Not Alone Ask for Help If You Feel Overwhelmed
If you need additional support, call your primary health provider, a registered psychologist or other mental health provider in your community.
If you are in crisis, here are some resources and contact (click this link)
More Than Simply "Fine"
It happens every time we say hello. In person, in text, on the phone. Someone asks us how we're doing. It's politeness. It's a social convention. And it's a way to find out how we're all doing and connect with each other.
But, more often than not, do you find yourself answering, automatically, with "fine, thanks?" You are not alone. Most of us do. But maybe, just maybe, if we said more than just "I'm fine," we would connect a little more, and have more meaningful connections.
In fact, when we slow down and figure out what we're really feeling, it can help us actually feel better and can improve the way we communicate with and relate to others. Knowing and saying what we really feel can improve our relationships.
So, what could you say instead of just I'm fine? The English language has literally thousands of words for emotions. Here are just some of them.
Next time someone asks you how you are, try one of these answers on for size. (See full list here)
"Positive" feelings : Excited Friendly Confident Ecstatic Thankful Intrigued Peaceful Refreshed
"Negative" feelings : Afraid Frenzied Angry Anxious Confused Lonely Disgusted Embarrassed Ashamed Distressed Hopeless Tired (Add pictures of CMHA 1-4)
Mental Health America 2020 https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month
It's Normal to Feel Down Sometimes
From time to time, everyone feels down for some reason, such as losing a job or a loved one. Just being cooped up can take its toll on your mood; it can even become disabling, preventing you from performing normal, everyday tasks. And when this soured mood turns very severe or persists for two weeks or longer, it can be classified as a mood disorder.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of people living with depression increased by nearly 20% from 2005 to 2015. Although estimated to be more common in females and adults of working age, depressive symptoms are frequently found in both sexes and all age groups.
Despite depression being a common ailment, it can be incredibly difficult to talk about, both because of the stigma around mental health and because it may not be taken as seriously as ailments that can be objectively assessed, such as viral infections or diabetes.
Can Exercise Help?
While many of you are (understandably) focusing on improving your immune health, know that maintaining a regular exercise routine can benefit your overall health in myriad other ways such as improving your mood!
Engage in Resistance Training Regularly
Include resistance training in your exercise regimen. To preserve your muscle mass, and even more to increase it, you need at least two resistance workouts a week. Remember, the exercise volume you need to preserve muscle is less than the exercise volume you need to grow muscle.
Take It Easy on Cardio
- Endurance training can increase blood flow to the muscles, thus speeding the delivery of the nutrients they need for recovery, and it can limit fat gain on a hypercaloric diet by keeping fat-burning pathways active. But too much cardio can also hinder muscle growth by burning up too many calories, cutting into recovery, and interfering with muscle-building signalling pathways.
- If your primary goal is muscle building, take it easy on the cardio. Otherwise, cardio can help you create a caloric deficit (for weight loss) or balance (for weight maintenance).
Despite the considerable number of individual studies on this topic, further work is needed to refine future recommendations. As we saw earlier, too much exercise can impair the immune system, and the possibility exists that too much exercise could also hurt your mood. Balance, as always, is key.
Read More & Source: https://examine.com/guides/coronavirus/?ref=topnav#exercise
Today's Exercises for your eMentalFitChallenge
A basic resistance training program
Adapted from Mcleod et al. Front Physiol. 2019.
Cardio and other workout ideas
Being more active is very safe for most people, however, some people should check with their doctor before they start becoming physically active. If you are planning to become much more physically active than you are now, consult a Kinesiologist to guide you through your process. Find a kinesiologist near you. The CKA will not be held responsible for any consequences related to performing these exercises.
Stay Tuned for Tomorrow's eMentalFitChallenge:
- What is the link between exercise and happiness?
- Breathing and Stretching
Looking for some more mental health support through exercises?
Find a kinesiologist near you (click here)
Missed the emails from previous days of the 7-day eMentalFitChallenge, find them here: