Emotions are an influential and integral part of our well-being. Being the driving force in our everyday lives, they shape our ways of thinking, behaviors, and overall qualities and influence how we relate and socialize with others. Since they are innate by nature, they are tough to break free from most of the time.
Emotions can be complex because it can be challenging to understand why they arise. Though many individuals look at the situation they are experiencing in the present moment to determine why they react emotionally, several other factors can impact your emotions. Emotion can result from internal and external factors, and the mind tends to use them as a defense mechanism to protect you from other uncomfortable feelings.
Do Emotions Impact Our Health?
Absolutely. It’s called “powerful” for a reason, and negative emotions are hazardous since they have been directly linked to numerous health-related problems.
Being in frequent emotional turmoil can lead to stress, and we all know it is never good for the body. The elevated cortisol levels, adrenaline pumping through our veins, are referred to as “stress hormones,” and when they course through our bodies, they’re pumping us up to react in a way that is quick and strong.
That burst of adrenaline can lead to incredible feats of superhuman strength, and we find ourselves doing things we ordinarily wouldn’t be able to. In some ways, having a short burst of adrenaline and stress hormones can be a good thing. Still, once these stress triggers start to diminish and shut down, there’s a good chance that the release of other chemicals needed to support some of our essential bodily functioning gets shut down too.
Our bodies are incredible, but there’s only so much they can handle at any given time; case in point, it can take only one impact at a time. In other words, our bodies can accept only one of two modes at any given time. So we’re either in the fight or flight response mode or the healing and growth mode—one of the other.
Stress can significantly negatively impact our bodies, both physically and emotionally. On a physical level, certain emotions can leave an impact that includes side effects like weight gain, insomnia, chronic fatigue, and muscular aches. On an emotional level, feeling negative emotions and stress can result in feeling depressed and worthless, irritability, loss of purpose in life, and loneliness. We start to feel isolated—like nobody understands what we’re going through—we become withdrawn, feel a sense of loneliness, and eventually, start to feel depressed because of all the imagined worries we are carrying about on our shoulders.
Yet, many people tend to brush it off and not think twice about the connection between these symptoms and emotions, not realizing how this behavior pattern and way of thinking is having damaging effects on their health.
What about Our Minds and Bodies? Do Emotions Influence Them Too?
Chronic illnesses like depression have been linked to poor mental health, which is often directly related to poor regulation of emotions.
Experiencing these unhealthy emotions over a long period leads to chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and even a stroke, according to a 2013 article published in the Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders.
Another study found that people had a 41% chance of depression and diabetes, so yes, it is safe to say emotions can have a rather significant impact on our health without the proper regulation and management techniques. A 2017 study even revealed the possible link between depression and its effect on our immune system and that habits that were associated with depression – including a lack of sleep and physical activity – could potentially increase your chances of contracting more illnesses.
There is also the link between longevity and depression, which – according to a 2014 review – associated several mental health conditions with higher mortality rates. Another 2017 study suggested that those who dealt with depression may risk shorter lifespans, ranging anywhere from 7 years to 18 years more concise than the average human lifespan.
It cannot be denied that living in a state of constant emotional stress is eventually going to take its toll, and your health will be the one that ends up paying the price.
Negative thinking is often a product of insecurity. However, it can result from other complex factors, such as illness, substance abuse, personality problems, and life experiences. Negativity, like many things in life, can gradually become a habit. Constant criticism, subconscious negative thoughts, and denial can condition the brain to embrace sadness. When these negative tendencies control the more significant part of our thought processes, the brain is forced to distort the truth. This psychological change makes breaking the negative thought cycle even more difficult.
How Does Negativity Affect the Body?
Negative thinking or negative emotions are the body’s natural response to threats, disasters, or heartache. In response to a perceived threat or stress, the human body is conditioned to deal with such situations by releasing cortisol into the bloodstream. The release of cortisol made you more alert and focused. However, high levels over a long period will often lead to severe health issues, such as poor digestion, while, at the same time, decreasing the immune system’s ability to fight inflammation. Most health experts claim that negative people are ten times more likely to become sick than optimistic people.
Below are some of the harmful medical conditions associated with negative thinkers:
- Chest pain
- Social withdrawal
- Upset stomach
- Sleep problems
- Drastic changes in metabolism (over-eating or under-eating)
- Smoking or substance abuse as a way of coping
Our emotions create a pathway in our brains. Just as a negative thinking process develops over time, we can also reinforce positive self-talk and make positive thinking a habit. As I told my friend, “Happiness and positivity are a product of choice and not circumstance.” To overcome negative emotions, please follow the steps below:
Recognize what is real.
The world isn’t perfect, so there would never be a time when everything around you would be ideal. Therefore, to change your thinking patterns, you must learn to recognize what is real and embrace that everything can’t be perfect. This understanding will help you appreciate positivity in the face of negativity.
Live in the moment.
It’s challenging to stop being negative if you don’t let go of past mistakes or fear the future. You have to learn to counter every negative thought with a positive response. That’s the only way to take control of your mind and thought processes.
Try to become optimistic about every situation. Regardless of bad news or events, try to be grateful for the little things that went right. When thinking positively, you leave little room for negative thoughts. Instead, cultivate positive habits such as spending time with loved ones or engaging in a group conversation. These habits will limit your reflection on negative things.
Channel your negativity into solutions.
To be realistic, it’s humanly impossible not to experience negative or unproductive thoughts, and we all have them occasionally. However, instead of whining and complaining, negative thoughts should challenge positive thinkers to develop a solution. For example, suppose a positive thinker realizes they are gaining more weight over the holiday instead of complaining about the government’s failure to make legislation that promotes healthy eating food. In that case, he could use that negativity/weight gain as fuel to start working out and living a healthier lifestyle.
Spend more time with positive people.
When you spend a lot of time with a sadist, you may gradually become one. The same principle works when you spend time with an optimist. Negativity and optimism are both equally contagious. Therefore, spending quality time with optimistic people will help significantly overcome negativity.
It is humanly impossible to eradicate negative thinking, but it can be reduced, and its psychological effect on us can be made irrelevant using the steps discussed above.
How To Quickly Reduce Emotional Stress
Everybody feels worried at some point. Sometimes, you may even feel more significant emotional stress than you’re used to. Emotional stress tends to disturb your natural equilibrium or any circumstance that will, in general, upset the harmony between a living thing and its environment. What separates our level of stress tolerance is the degree to which stress influences your daily life and the strategies you adopt to deal with it. Generally speaking, it’s almost impossible to avoid emotional tension or stress situations, but we can learn to manage them to prevent damaging our health and robbing us of our happiness. The stress management strategies listed below will help you cope with frequent amounts of emotional stress. These may include:
Find a hobby that helps you unwind.
Everybody needs personal time to unwind and blow off the steam of emotional stress. For example, your hobby might be exercising, or listening to music, or simply walking your pet. Do whatever you make happy to ease those stressful moments. Don’t downplay the importance of how unwinding can reduce your emotional stress levels.
Avoid foods that trigger emotional stress.
Sensitive food, such as sugar, gluten, milk products, or processed food, can influence mood. This class of food contains some components that can significantly impact your mood. For example, sugar and glucose can make you feel either full of energy or left with a sugar crash. Avoid these foods and consume more natural whole foods to stay healthy.
Get consistent sleep.
When you’re sleep deprived or when your sleeping quality is poor, you are vulnerable to higher levels of emotional stress. That’s bad for your health. So regardless of how busy your schedule may be, make sure you get at least six hours of uninterrupted sleep daily. Getting a good night’s rest is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your emotional well-being.
Take control of the situation.
Individuals who remain in charge of their circumstances are less worried or emotionally stressed than those who are not in control. Taking control of a situation means doing all you can to improve your mental and physical health to stop worrying about what you can’t control.
Write them down.
Stressing over your circumstances can only intensify your emotional stress. Writing down how you’re feeling can help release those negative emotions. Being expressive with our senses is an effective way of reducing anxiety.
Make use of anxiety-easing tools.
Use tools that can help you ease the stress you are feeling. Tools, such as popular apps on our smartphones, can help. There are a lot of apps you can download to help you ease your tension. You just need to find out which one will be the most effective for you and then download it. Many of these apps are free, so research a few of them and determine whether they will work for you.
Make use of stress-management strategies.
Stress-management strategies, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and changing your “thinking processes” are effective strategies that can help you manage your emotional stress. Although these strategies don’t work like rocket science, they take time and practice before they begin to have a severe impact on your stress level. Therefore, you have to stay committed and put in the necessary work before seeing changes in your general well-being.
The tips or steps above are not meant to replace the advice of your physician. If you are struggling with emotional stress, it’s advisable to seek medication, therapy, or consult your physician. Also, talk to a therapist; they can help you reduce your emotional stress by talking you through your emotional baggage.