How Your Emotions Can Affect Your Physical Health
- 30 August 2017 30 August 2017
The mind and body have an intimate bond – the way you think or feel can have a profound impact on your physical health. Your body has specific ways of responding to different emotions. When upset or under stress, your body reacts, telling you that something isn’t quite right. Call it evolutionary advantage; a physical manifestation waving a red flag when something inside you goes haywire. On the downside, when left unchecked, this opens us up to a number of health risks, with some more detrimental than others.
Of course, there’s always a way to cultivate and maintain a healthy emotional balance in our lives. Negative emotions cause negative effects in our bodies and in the same vein, good feelings and positive emotions have positive and therapeutic effects, with the potential to heal us and make us healthier and happier inside out. Diving deeper into the topic, we explore the mind-body connection and its relation to our health.
Insomnia is an emotional sleeping disorder, most commonly linked to high amounts of stress and anxiety, resulting in an unrefreshing, non-restorative sleep. It can adversely impact health, leaving any sufferer feeling lethargic and fatigued throughout the day. Most of us experience a form of insomnia at some point in our lives, stemming from physical and emotional issues, including stress, grief or jet lag and illness. There’s more to the power of sleep than most of us realise. Major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur almost exclusively during sleep. Luckily, there are natural and safe ways to combat insomnia, from sleepy time snacks (warm milk anyone?) to modern treatments and alternative sleep therapies from trusted experts.
Weight gain or loss
Eating disorders are one of the hardest personal hurdles to conquer and can occasionally spiral out of control, leading to a list of health problems. Binge eating and anorexia are just examples of the types of eating disorders that could be triggered by emotions brought about by low self-esteem, stress, break-ups or redundancy. These disturbances in diet are undeniably harmful to anyone’s health and can interfere in a happy and healthy life. If you think surviving the snack attack is difficult, the struggles of someone suffering from an eating disorder can be hard to imagine. As with most illnesses, early treatment is key, but also, encouraging a healthy view of self and others can have so much impact in one’s life.
In today’s fast-paced life, people are bound to encounter stressful situations once in a while. The all too familiar pressure to juggle work responsibilities with family duties let alone social commitments easily elevates our stress levels. As previously implied, there is a correlation between stress and weight gain or loss, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With our basic evolutionary functions in full capacity, stress can trigger a chain of reactions within our body and one of those is the production of cortisol, or the stress hormone. Although not inherently bad (after all, it prevents inflammation and aids metabolism among many things), a glut of cortisol production can suppress our immune system, which can tip the balance of our health and well-being. Persistent elevation of stress hormones can also increase the risk for cardiovascular conditions and heart attack.
Anxiety manifests as a reaction to stress and can occur in people who are unable to distinguish the stressors in their life. Restlessness, panic and feeling of impending doom are a few of the emotional side-effects of anxiety, but it can also induce physical symptoms such as stomach ache, muscle tension, headache, rapid breathing and fatigue. Prolonged anxiety can adversely impact health and much like stress, can lead to different conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, hyperacidity and diabetes. Fortunately, there are many ways to manage stress and anxiety, and it can be as practical as getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness and talking to a friend. For those who want to seek help, you can always turn to your primary care provider or recover on one of the best wellness retreats equipped to beat anxiety in the most idyllic destinations in the world.
The broken heart syndrome—can you really die from a broken heart? It’s been a debate whether it’s real or not, but nonetheless, heartbreak will always be one of the most harrowing human struggles; and to some, the pain can be very real. Caused by different circumstances, from breakups to the loss of a loved one or a friend, heartbreak is one emotion that actually physically hurts. When we get our heart ‘broken’, we normally feel a sensation of heartache, where we go through a combination of emotional stress and stress-induced physical manifestations including tightness in the chest muscle, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath. In one study , it’s even been inferred that people who recently lost their spouse are more likely to of die from a heart attack by 20 to 35 percent. While the emotions attached to a heartbreak is inevitable, we always have a choice to mend and recover. Succumbing to the feeling of grief and loss should never be an option. Talk to a friend, seek advice from a professional or travel and escape to strengthen your emotional fitness much further.
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