What has Emotional Health Got to Do with Overall Health and Wellbeing?
I think it’s fair to say that when we have good health both physically and emotionally we are usually very aware of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. We cope with everyday stresses and problems and for the most part feel good about ourselves and have great relationships.
However life doesn’t always go as planned and our emotional health can get disrupted by things that happen to us. Grief, stress and anxiety can lead to strong feelings that disrupt our emotional health and throw us off balance.
It is reported that some of the most stressful events in our life could include the following:
- Losing your job.
- Your child going to college or leaving home.
- Losing a close family member or friend.
- Getting divorced or married.
- Serious illness or an injury.
- Financial pressure.
- Moving home.
- Moving job or getting a promotion.
- Having a baby.
- The question is do my emotions really affect my physical health?
The simple answer is yes, because whether you are aware of it or not your body responds to the way you think, feel, and act. The mind/body connection is much stronger than you think, and unfortunately our fast moving modern life has meant that we can be more than a little disconnected from our primal instincts or our gut feelings.
Stress and anxiety disrupt your body’s normal function; it is well known that 70-80% of our immune is in our gut, so if you are stressed and getting frequent colds and flus this may be an indicator that your digestive system is not functioning at its optimum. Stress may also cause us to lose our appetite, or over-eat for comfort; this is your body letting you know that that something isn’t right.
Another interesting fact that may not be as well known is that serotonin is manufactured by gut bacteria.
Gut bacteria also produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate basic physiological processes as well as mental processes such as learning, memory and mood. For example, gut bacteria manufacture about 95 percent of the body’s supply of serotonin, which influences both mood and GI activity. (ref: By Dr. Siri Carpenter September 2012, Vol 43, No. 8 Print version: page 50-American Psychological Association)
So how can you improve your emotional health?
The first step is to try and become aware of your emotions, gain an understanding of how and when you have an emotional response. Looking at the underlying causes of sadness, stress, and anxiety in your life can help you manage your emotional health.
Here are some useful tips to try:
- Express your feelings in appropriate ways
Tell someone how you feel. A problem shared is a problem halfed. Friends and family may be able to help however if it’s not appropriate to talk to family or friends, try asking your family doctor, a professional counsellor, or a complimentary therapist or a coach for support and help.
- Practice Gratitude
What you focus on grows. In times of stress it can be hard to see all the wonderful things in your life, try keeping a gratitude diary. Writing down 3 things you are grateful for every morning upon waking and every evening before sleep will help you to start practicing gratitude on a daily basis. This is a very powerful exercise.
- Develop resilience
What this means is find a couple of stress busting strategies that work for you. You may have to try a few different things until you find what works. I find taking a few deep breaths can work wonders. Getting out in nature may help or simply taking 10 minutes every day for you may help. Only you know what will really work for you but seek and you shall find.
- Calm your mind and body
Meditation is a powerful way to calm the mind and has such a profound effect on our mental and physical health. There are many forms so look for one that suits you. Check out You-Tube for a wealth of examples. If you can get to a yoga or Tai Chi class this can also be very beneficial
- Practice Pro-Active Self Care
It’s so important to take pro-active care of yourself. Often we wait until we are sick to take a break, look for the signs and take action before you get into a bad place.
Watch for Signs of Stress and try some of these:-
- Try some exercise that aids relaxation
- Address Sleep Issues
- Try deep breathing or meditation
- Look at what you eat, when you eat, how you eat and why you eat. Make some small changes to improve your food mood relationship.
- Avoid or at least reduce caffeine and alcohol
- Focus on what matter and make a list of what makes you happy and try and incorporate at least one of those things into your everyday life.
- If you feel that you have being in a poor negative place for a prolonged period of time and this is preventing you from enjoying life, it’s important to take action. You may benefit from talking to a family member or close friend or you may need to talk to your doctor and think about some complimentary therapies that can help get you back on track.
Life is short my friend and it is here to be lived and enjoyed so don’t suffer in silence. Reach out and live the life you were born to.
Your health is your wealth.
To your very best health and wellness,