Six steps to emotional health

In today’s installment of our weeklong series of workshops designed to help you restore balance, Dr. Carol Lewis, associate professor in UF’s Department of Psychiatry, led a session on iRest®, a practice based on the tradition of Yoga Nidra. If you missed it, you can view the recording here.

In addition to practicing iRest Yoga Nidra, Lewis, a clinical psychologist trained in mindfulness-based treatment protocols, offers the following recommendations to achieve better emotional health.

  1. Sleep 7 to 9 hours nightly. Stop using all electronics (TV, computer, phone, etc.) at least 30 minutes before you try to go to sleep; read a book or magazine just before going to sleep (to get your mind off the concerns of the day).
  2. Eat at least 3 times a day (something with nutritional value), and don’t go long periods of time without eating.
  3. Exercise by moving around a little more than you do now, aiming for 20-30 minutes or more on most days. Exercise is mood-regulating and anxiety-reducing, and can be done in 10 minute chunks.
  4. Do pleasant activities daily and pay attention to them while you’re doing them. Put your mind on the pleasant activity (instead of the worry or sad thoughts), and redirect your attention back to the pleasant activity as many times as you need to.
  5. Perform slow, deep, rhythmic breathing for 5 minutes or more each day, breathing in calm and breathing out tension. Maybe breathe to music, or use a phone app or website like or Stop, Breathe & Think for 2 or more minutes daily.
  6. Mindful thinking– It’s healthy to bring our attention to the present moment as often as we can. Learn the 4 steps to mindful thinking and find more information and resources via the link below.