We don’t always feel our true emotions; thus, it is hard to believe that they can hugely impact our physical health. But come to think of it, why does your heart beat faster when you’re angry or scared? Why does your stomach churn when you’re nervous?
Everything in your environment triggers emotions, whether positive or negative. Your body responds to the way you think and feel. This is what experts call it the mind-body connection. While it’s obvious that positive emotions can do you a lot of good, negative emotions can harm you physically and mentally in a big way.
Here are ways your emotions have a direct impact on your health:
1. Negative Emotions Cause Psychological Distress
Your body reacts with an emotional response when something bad happens, such as losing a loved one, losing your job, falling seriously ill, orhaving financial or personal problems. Emotional responses from these major changes in your life can cause stress, along with the many other things you have to deal with every day.
Stress in small amounts can benefit you; however, too much stress in a continuous and extended period of time can lead to psychological and physical distress.
It happens when you can’t cope up with the negative emotions,and then they start to affect your normal functions. Symptoms of psychological distress may vary from person to person; however, the common symptoms include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Weight loss or gain
- Change in appetite
- Difficulty in dealing with anger
- Unexplained physical conditions such as chronic backaches, headaches, upset stomach, constipation and diarrhea
- Reckless behavior
- Obsessive or compulsive behavior
- Loss of interest in sex
- Tiredness and a lack of energy
2. Negative Emotions Weaken Your Immune System
Health experts say positive emotions can improve your immune system and speed up recovery, while negative emotions weaken your body’s defenses against infections. Negative emotions can actually slow down healing.
The link to emotions and physical heath still needs further study and evidence, but experts say high levels of stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, due to chronic stress can widely suppresses the immune system’s function.
In a study completed by Sheldon Cohen, a psychology professor at Mellon University, where 193 participated, those who had less positive emotions were more likely to catch a cold or flu.
Although some of the high-scorers got sick, too, they only suffered mild symptoms compared to those who were stuck in a negative emotional state.
In another study of Cohen; he exposed 276 adult participants to the common cold virus and found out, unsurprisingly,that the smokers were three times more susceptible to the virus. In fact, the participants who were feeling lonely and lacked social relationships were more vulnerable to the virus.
Just take notice of how you easily get sick when you have been feeling down for a long time.
3. Negative Emotions Make You Age Faster And Live A Shorter Time
Have you observed how stressed people look so haggard and aged? Or, have you looked in front of the mirror and noticed how ghastly your face is after an emotional breakdown?
Chronic stress from negative attitudes and emotions towards things not only weaken your immune system, according to a recent study, chronic stress accelerates the shortening of telomeres, or the end caps that keep the chromosomes intact.
With each cell division, the telomeres shorten until they are too short that cell division can no longer take place. Once the cells stop dividing, they eventually age and die. Therefore, the shortening of telomeres caused by chronic stress contributes to a decreased life span and faster aging.
4. Negative Emotions Lead To Unhealthy Habits
When you’re not feeling emotionally well, you tend to become less active, you indulge in unhealthy comfort foods in excessive amounts, and you lose interest in taking care of yourself. All these unhealthy habits contribute to weight gain. It creates a domino effect.
Gaining too much weight increases your risk of heart problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes. Although you might think being a little overweight is far from threatening, just remember that every additional pound you gain each week or month brings you closer to being unhealthy and even obese.
5. Negative Emotions Make People Succumb To Substance Abuse
Some people deal with negative emotions through substance use. Getting drunk can make you forget your troubles for a short while, and prohibited drugs take you to a “high” that disconnects you from the reality, but these substances only provide temporary relief. The question is, do these substances really help?
No. Alcohol abuse causes numerous major health problems, including liver cirrhosis, cancer and heart disease. Drug addiction can cause permanent damge to your brain and it weakens your immune system. In fact, in one study, the use of alcohol and drugs increased the stress levels in the human body.
You can’t completely avoid negative emotions, but you can find ways to deal with them effectively. Here are some effective ways to overcome these negative emotions:
- Acknowledge Your Emotions. Instead of forcing them to the back of your mind and pretending to be okay, admit that you’re hurt or angry. Only through theacceptance of these emotions will you be able to deal with them.
- Identify The Cause Of These Emotions. Why are you upset? Why are you angry? Be honest about your assessment. Sometimes, the reasons are just petty things not worth so much anger or disappointment. They are not worth of putting your heath at risk, so learn to pick your battles.
- Avoid Making Hasty Reactions And Decisions. Reacting and making decisions at the peak of your emotions make you say and do wrongful things, which you are likely to regret later or could even cause more complications. Step back, take deep breaths and let your emotions cool down before you respond. When you’re calm, you can think clearly and react effectively.
- Face Your Issues. After sorting out your emotions, deal with the situation or the person. This does not mean you have to be aggressive, but you should not suppress your feelings, either. Let go of things that are beyond your control and deal with your problems calmly.
- Talk It Out. Find a trusted person you can confide in. Sharing the reason for your anger or hurt can help lighten the destructive feelings. Furthermore, that person might be able to give you a sound advice not influenced by these negative emotions. If there’s no one to talk to, grab a journal and write about it. It will help you sort through your feelings and be more objective, so you can find a solution.
- Learn To Think Positive. Yes, it is easier said than done. But, like most of the things in life, you can learn to control your emotions. No matter how bad a situation seems, always believe that something good will result from it or that it happened for the best.
Everything around you triggers different kind of emotions. But, what you don’t know is that these emotions can directly affect your health, both physically and mentally.