By Troy Frink at MedicarePlanFinder.com
Did you know your mood can have a huge impact on your health? According to Time Magazine, people who are happier tend to be healthier. Evidence shows that your attitude can have “meaningful, … measurable effects” on your health.
For example, depression and other mental health issues can contribute to digestive problems, insomnia, fatigue, heart disease, and other health problems. On the other hand, a positive attitude can be linked to good physical health. It’s important to realize how our moods affect our bodies, relationships, and behavior.
Negative Emotions Are Bad for Your Health
If you feel helpless, hopeless, and/or have a negative attitude, you can create chronic stress. The stress can upset your body’s hormone balance, which depletes your brain’s chemicals that create feelings of happiness.
When you don’t have “happy hormones,” your immune system can be damaged. According to the University of Minnesota, chronic stress can decrease your lifespan. Science shows that “stress shortens our telomeres,” which are the “end caps” of our DNA strands. The DNA shortening causes faster aging.
Mismanaged or repressed anger is related to many health conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and infection.
Any kind of big life change can lead to stress, sadness, or anxiety. It doesn’t matter if the change is good or bad. Stressful changes can include:
- Losing your job
- Getting promoted at your job
- A child leaving or returning home
- Grieving the death of a loved one
- Getting married, divorced, or separated
- Moving to a new house
- Money problems
- Having or adopting a child
Your body responds to how you feel, think, and act. For example, you might develop a stomach ulcer after an extremely stressful event like the death of a loved one.
Why Positive Emotions Are Important
According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, President of the International Positive Psychology Association, positive emotions “broaden our perspective of the world (thus inspiring more creativity, wonder, and options),” and they “build over time, which creates lasting emotional resilience and flourishing.”
Dr. Frederickson has researched the physical and emotional benefits of positivity and published her results. According to Dr. Fredrickson, the benefits of positive emotions include “faster recovery from cardiovascular stress, better sleep, fewer colds, and a greater sense of overall happiness.”
Positive feelings and attitudes such as playfulness, gratitude, and love have a direct effect on wellbeing and overall health. “The good news,” Dr. Fredrickson says, “[is that] we can develop them ourselves with practice.”
How to Improve Your Emotional Health
There are a few ways to improve your emotional health. The first step is recognizing your emotions and understanding why you feel the way you do. Sorting out the causes of your stress or anxiety can help you manage your emotional health more effectively. If you practice expressing your feelings appropriately, managing work/life balance, becoming resilient, practicing self-care, and calming your mind and body, you can improve your health in big ways.
Express Your Feelings Appropriately
Bottling up your feelings of stress, sadness, or anxiety can make physical problems even worse. It’s OK to tell someone when something bothers you. Keep in mind that sometimes your family and friends can’t help you deal with your feelings appropriately. Sometimes you need to seek outside help. Try talking to a therapist or a religious advisor for support and advice to help improve your emotional health.
Manage Your Work/Life Balance
Focus on what you’re grateful for in your life. Problems at work, school, or home may come up, and those issues can lead to negative feelings. That doesn’t mean you should pretend to be happy when you aren’t, but you should deal with those negative feelings.
Focusing on the positive things in your life can help you improve your overall emotional health. Positive thinking is a habit. Try making a list of your successes of the day or keeping a journal where you write about things that make you feel happy or at peace.
You can also look for ways to let go of things that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed and make room for things that you enjoy.
Resilient people are better able to cope with stress in healthy ways. You can learn resilience and strengthen it with different strategies. The strategies include having a strong social support system, having high self-esteem, embracing change, and keeping things in perspective. A counselor or therapist can help you by recommending cognitive behavioral therapy techniques such as relaxation, mindfulness, and challenging your beliefs.
In order to have good emotional health, you must take care of your body. Develop a regular routine of eating healthy meals, practicing good sleep habits, and getting enough exercise. A great exercise routine can help you relieve tension.
Calm Your Body and Mind
Relaxation methods such as listening to soothing music, meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi may be useful ways to balance your emotions. If you don’t know where to get started, look for meditation and/or yoga apps or YouTube videos.
According to the American Academy of Physicians, meditation is “a form of guided thought.” You can meditate in many ways such as exercising, stretching, or doing deep breathing exercises. Your doctor may be able to help you find relaxation methods.
Avoid using unhealthy vices such as overeating and substance abuse when you’re stressed. Drugs and alcohol do not help your situation. In many cases, substance abuse makes it worse.
When to Go to Your Doctor
Many people go to the doctor when they feel physically ill. Your doctor is also a great resource when it comes to your mental health. It’s important to have an honest conversation with your doctor when those feelings don’t seem to go away and are so strong that they prevent you from enjoying life. In that case, you may have major depression, which may be treated with medication, counseling, or both.
Ask your doctor how you can better cope with stress. Find out if your health problems contribute to your stress, or if your stress can be causing your health issues. Sometimes everything in your life is great, but you still feel unhappy. Your doctor may be able to help get to the root cause of the problem.
Manage Your Emotions and Manage Your Health
Sometimes bad things happen in life, or we feel sad and don’t know why. It’s how we handle our own emotions that’s important. You can prevent or improve your health if you have a more positive outlook. Note: it can be easy to neglect healthy habits such as yoga, meditation, and exercise when things are good. Try to keep good habits as part of your routine because there can be what seems like a snowball effect. Our lives outpicture what we focus on the most, so if you focus on the positive aspects of your life, you may improve everything else.