CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Aerobics. Weight training. Flexibility exercises.
When you hear the word "fitness," do you automatically think about physical fitness? It's only natural that we gravitate toward these areas.
But there's another barometer of fitness that has everything to do with the way we feel: emotional fitness. The only problem is there's not a universal measurement system to monitor this. No body mass index or heart rate calculation. So how do we know how emotionally fit we are?
Although the tools aren't there as they are with the physically fit measurements, there are ways we can gauge our emotional fitness. The trouble is we're usually "off the stress scale" by the time we notice.
Emotional fitness is all about the way we cope -- how we stand up to the stressors in our lives. When things are going well, we tend not to pay attention. However, when we're under a lot of stress, we start to notice all kinds of signs.
Insomnia. Carbohydrate cravings. Irritability. Escape mechanisms like TV, shopping, alcohol, drugs -- you name it.
This got me thinking about ways we can fortify ourselves and improve our emotional fitness levels.
I ran across an online quiz the other day that helped to shed some light on things.
Check out some of these questions. Which answer best describes you?
1. How good are you at taking your emotional pulse?
a. When something's bothering me, I can usually identify what it is and why it's getting to me.
b. I'm intensely aware of my emotions and get really frustrated when my feelings tilt toward the negative.
c. I don't check in with myself emotionally. When I feel out of sorts I stay busy and count on the feeling passing, without having to examine it.
2. When you're faced with a crisis, such as impending layoffs at work or a health scare in the family, you are most likely to:
a. Evaluate what I can and can't control. Then I take action where possible and distract myself with other activities when there's nothing I can do.
b. Become so paralyzed with fear or numbness that I have trouble thinking clearly or taking useful action.
c. Feel completely torn between anxiety and denial and start contemplating all the different ways the situation could play out.
3. Which of the following best describes your relationships with family members and friends?
a. I have friends and family nearby, but I don't always feel like I can count on them. Often, I feel like I do a lot more giving than receiving.
b. There are a number of people I feel close to, can confide in and who understand me. There's a healthy give-and-take in terms of emotional support.
c. I frequently feel lonely and isolated. I wish I had more people in my life that I felt close to.