How Our Emotions Affect Our Physical Health

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By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Your sense of health and wellness is determined by a combination of things, including how you feel emotionally, psychologically, and mentally.

An exchange of messages is constantly taking place inside of us. Researchers have found that our emotions create signals that our hearts send to our brains. These messages to our brain determine which chemicals and hormones we produce and course throughout our entire body.

When we feel negative emotions—like rage, disgust, suspicion, and anger—the heart sends a signal to the brain that reflects our mindset. Such emotions are unbalanced and disordered, and this is exactly how the messages they send to the brain arrive—chaotic and unhealthy.

Stress and Anxiety

When we have a whirlwind of a day and our emotions are all over the place, our body reads these ups and downs as anxiety. This sets into motion several mechanisms to help us act in response to this nervous tension.

The anxiety or stress from negative emotions enhances the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the blood, and as a result, the stress hormones prepare our body for a fast and potent reaction to whatever is leading to the stress. Our bodies prepare to either deal with the cause of our stress, or to run as fast as we can away from it. You may be familiar with this concept, commonly referred to as “fight or flight.”

Suppressing Your Emotions

If, on the other hand, you are someone who suppresses your emotions, you are probably harming your body in a different yet still intense way. Emotions exist for a reason: they help our physical body react appropriately to the situation we are in and how we feel about it. When we feel emotion and process it healthily, we defend ourselves from the problems at hand and overcome them—both physically and mentally. While the pace of our modern life can make it difficult to process all of the stressors we face on a daily basis, it’s healthier to learn to listen to your body. When we ignore our emotions and let stress overcome us, there’s a serious price we have to pay.

Avoiding emotions can be very harmful to your health, mentally and physically. Research shows that suppressing emotions is linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular ailments. Whether you are facing rage, depression, unhappiness, or disappointment, pushing those feelings to the side causes real physical stress on your body. Over time, untreated anxiety and stress can lead to an enlarged risk of diabetes, memory problems, nervousness, and chronic depression. In other words, making your mind to hide your feelings, paying no attention to them, or trying to convince yourself that there is no need to manage them can literally make you ill.

Having trouble managing stress? Click here to ask a functional medicine doctor how to best manage your chronic stressors!

Developing a Healthy Connection with Your Emotions

If you aren’t used to listening to your emotions, it may feel intimidating or kind of odd. You might have spent a large chunk of your life avoiding your feelings, so you need to gain self-assurance about what you're feeling and become skilled at trusting your emotions.

There are several healthy habits to positively deal with how you are feeling. Journaling, meditating, talking with a friend, or trying talk-therapy with a qualified professional. You may also be interested in taking adaptogenic herbs as a tea or tincture. Adaptogens are a natural way you can improve your body’s response to stress.

We all deal with our emotions differently. The important part is that you are dealing with the stressors that come up in your daily life in a healthy way, rather than brushing them off, or allowing them to overtake you. Your health depends on it!

Click here to work with a functional medicine doctor and start feeling better today!



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