It’s no secret that the mind and body are connected. Research has long confirmed that emotions don’t only manifest as physical symptoms but can also have profound effects on the physical health in the long run.
Negative emotions such as anger, stress, anxiety and fear can result in the following:
• Body pains
• Loss of appetite
• Chest tightness
• Difficulty in breathing
And if not handled properly, negative emotions can also increase the risk of heart disease and many other serious ailments. In a 2003 study published in the Behaviour Modification Journal, it was reported that depression, anger and hostility shoot up cardiac health risk factors.
Learning how to manage and release negative emotions is an important step towards better health. Here are some suggestions on how to go about this process.
Step 1 – Identify the negative emotion and its cause
First, take a step back from the situation and identify what it is exactly that you’re feeling. Is it anger or frustration? Are you worried or fearful? Do you feel jealous? Or is it a combination of various emotions?
Next, determine the specific and real cause of these negative feelings. Are you angry at your spouse because he doesn’t contribute much in house work, or is it because you harbour negative feelings against him when he cheated on you in the past?
Do you feel stressed at work because your boss keeps nagging you or is it because your co-worker seems to be gaining an edge over you for promotion? Are you stressed out about money problems or the fact that you feel like your career is getting nowhere at this point in your life?
Being honest with yourself and unearthing the deeper causes of your emotions help you deal with them more effectively.
Step 2 – Deal with the issue head on
The second important step is to deal with the source of negative emotion. There are three ways to do this:
• Resolve – Find a permanent and effective solution to the problem that’s causing you to have negative feelings. For example, if you are desperate for a promotion at work, then work harder to get it. If money problems are keeping you up at night, then find a higher paying job or get part time work. Yes, it’s not as simple as it sounds, but it’s important to take a proactive role in dealing with the source of your negative emotions.
• Avoid – Not every problem has a solution, that’s a fact. For certain causes of negative emotions, it might be best for you to just avoid them. For instance, if office gossip is shooting up your stress and anxiety levels, then stay away from people who talk behind your back. If a certain route going to the office is jammed with traffic every morning, then find another way to get there.
• Accept – There are also certain things that we just have to accept. If your spouse cheated on you a few years back but you still want the marriage to work, then you must simply accept the fact that you cannot change what has already happened in the past. Learning to forgive, moving on, and letting go of past grudges will definitely be good for you and your emotional health.
Step 3 – Look for various healthy ways to cope
There are many other ways to cope with stress and other negative emotions. It’s a must to adopt those that won’t impair your health in the long run. Drinking alcohol or using drugs don’t offer permanent solution to your problems but would only make matters worse. Emotional eating, meanwhile, will only cause weight gain and may lead to serious conditions.
Instead, make use of these suggestions, which many people have proven to work:
• Keeping a journal – According to one study, writing about your emotions can ease physical pain and other symptoms.
• Doing meditative exercises – Yoga, meditation, deep breathing and visual imagery are just few of the many exercises that you can try to release pent up negative emotions.
• Working out – Exercise has been found to boost the release of feel good hormones like serotonin and ward off depression, reports Psychology Today. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. It’s good for your physical health as well.
• Spending time with people you care about – In a study featured in the Developmental Psychology Journal, it was reported that spending time with your best friend can tone down the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
• Getting a massage – Massage has many excellent benefits for the health. It doesn’t only help in detoxification and blood circulation, it also induces relaxation and helps you forget about negative feelings.
Emotions are more important than some people realize. While others look at them as “temporary feelings” that come and go away, these can actually have a long-term impact not just on physical health but on the overall quality of life