Hi Friends! I felt the urge to reach out and connect with you through writing. I’m having a delightful summer with lots of sunshine, socializing, exercise and free time. In my free time, I have been watching intriguing shows like Homeland and Lost. It is the second time around for me and Lost. I’m watching it with my daughter. I think that makes it extra enjoyable.
Emotional Intelligence: Ready for it now
As for reading, I decided to revisit Daniel Goleman’s, Emotional Intelligence. I found it too dry to finish the first time I attempted to read it. This time, it has me hooked! I keep finding page after page of valid points and thoughtful insights. I want to talk about one of them in this post.
In a section titled: Mood-lifters, Dr. Goleman talks about shifting out of depressive or anxious states. For depression, Goleman says aerobic exercise works because “it changes the physiological state the mood evokes: depression is a low arousal state and aerobics pitches the body into high arousal. By the same token, relaxation techniques, which put the body into a low arousal state, work well for anxiety a high arousal state, but not so well for depression.”
Best time for meditation?
A while ago, I read that meditation may not be the best source of comfort for someone with depression or anxiety. Sitting by oneself with lots of time for intruding thoughts does seem like a bad idea for someone with lots of worries or ruminations. Meditation is different than a relaxation technique but often used to calm the mind and body. I can see Goleman’s point about it not working for people with depression. It would keep someone in a low arousal state. Depression already makes it difficult to get out of bed. But for someone with anxiety issues, the breathing or mantra practice stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and creates a feeling of calmness.
Cardio for introvert energy
On the flip side, aerobic exercise is my go to for a mood lift. The majority of my family prefers strength training but I love cardio. Cardio exercise gives me energy. As an introvert and someone who is not particularly high energy anyway, aerobic fitness boosts my outlook and energy. Whenever I start to feel lethargic or down, I invest time in a walk or a dance workout. I would say exercise works for me when I feel anxious as well. It gives me a sense of control, so I do not feel helpless, which is a big factor in anxiety.
Dr. Goleman does give a caveat when it comes to exercise. He states that working out gives the most bang for the buck in the beginning of an exercise routine. For those who are regular fitness buffs, it is not as life-changing and can even work negatively if that person starts missing workout sessions. They can feel guilty for failing to do the exercise.
What to do when feeling blue or anxious
The main point I wanted to share was that low arousal states work best with high arousal activities and vice versa for creating a change in mood. So the next time you feel low and depressed, do something high arousal or when you feel anxious and keyed up, seek out low arousal activities like relaxation techniques or maybe even watching TV (although Lost and Homeland are fairly high arousal shows).
Do you find this theory of opposite arousal states works? What gives you energy? What calms you?