How Emotions Affect Health + 3 Ways to Take Control

Emotions Affect Health
How Emotions Affect Health + 3 Ways to Take Control

The goal of this article is to help you align your emotions with your health. Emotions are at the center of the human experience

They dictate how we make decisions and guide us on the path of life. 

Emotions are how we experience beauty and pain, and they can make or break our successes and failures. 

More times than not, we make emotion-based decisions. 

Then we use logic to justify them after-the-fact (the ego hates to admit this, but it’s true).

However, if this sounds disempowering, don’t stress…

With the right habits, you can regulate how emotions affect health, wealth, and most importantly, happiness.

The goal of this article is to help you align your emotions with your health.

Let’s get started!

What Is the Limbic System?

The limbic system is one of the oldest and most primitive parts of the brain. 

In fact, scientists believe it developed hundreds of thousands of years ago. (1)

Believe it or not, even reptiles have limbic systems. 

Ultimately, this primal part of the brain pulls a lot of strings behind the scenes. 

Together, the hippocampus, amygdala, and the other parts of the limbic system manage most of your behaviors, including:

  • Forming likes/dislikes
  • Perceiving threats
  • Making choices based on past experiences
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Recalling traumatic and pleasant events

In other words, the limbic system is responsible for the subconscious instincts that guide your decisions. 

So what happens when the limbic system gets out of your control?

Problems with the Limbic System

Because the limbic system regulates emotions, perceptions, relationships, and behaviors, when something goes wrong, it can lead to some serious emotional problems. 

In fact, an unhealthy limbic system can cause:

  • Hyperarousal
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Risky behavior
  • Poor social awareness
  • Lack of motivation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Overeating/poor appetite control

Many of these issues come from problems with the amygdala: a pea-shaped part of the brain that initiates the fear response. 

When these problems continue for too long, negative emotions can eat away at your health.

How Emotions Affect Health

The limbic system is also connected directly to the hypothalamus, which regulates hormones. 

When you don’t have the tools to regulate your emotions, you can develop chronic stress.

In the short-term, chronic stress increases key functions like: 

  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Breathing rate

However, over time, elevated stress hormones can cause hormone imbalances and mood swings. 

Not to mention that chronic stress damages the gut lining and promotes inflammation. (2)

In the end, this increases the risk of infections and serious diseases. 

Taking Control of the Emotional Response

Although it may feel like emotions pop up out of the blue, they actually unfold over time. 

Ultimately, if you want a calmer life, you’ll have to change your relationship with your emotions. 

Many of us take the easy route and try to suppress our emotions, but this is a lot like putting a band-aid on a deep wound. 

Instead, a healthier response is to reappraise and accept your emotions. 

Reappraisal is a positive form of emotional regulation and is associated with less depression and greater well-being. 

During reappraisal, you accept your pain and reframe it as a necessary part of personal growth. 

Now that you understand the basics of the emotional response, it’s time to alter how emotions affect health with some actionable advice.

3 Ways to Manage the Emotional Response

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to reduce stress, regulate emotions, and take control of your health. 

Oftentimes, all it takes is a few basic changes like meditation, exercise, and nutrition to develop a healthier emotional response. 

With that said, developing healthy habits is rarely easy. 

Here are some of the top ways to influence how emotions affect health:

1. Meditation

Chances are, this isn’t the first time you’ve heard of meditation, and it certainly won’t be the last. 

That’s because meditation is the single most powerful tool you have for personal growth. (3)

And believe it or not, meditation isn’t just for Buddhists and hippies. 

On the contrary, high-performers of all walks of life meditate. 

In fact, many of your favorite celebrities say that meditation has played a key role in their success and happiness, including:

  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Russell Branson
  • Tim Ferriss
  • Will Smith
  • Oprah 

…and many more. 

At its core, meditation means to be still and to allow your thoughts to flow freely without judgment. 

For more direction, there are several amazing guided meditation apps out there, including Waking Up by Sam Harriss. 

2. Exercise

Few habits are as powerful as good old fashioned exercise when it comes to balancing hormones and reducing stress. 

The fact is, our bodies are designed to process stress with exercise. 

However, the modern world is full of stressful events that don’t involve physical activity. 

As a result, stress hormones build up in the body and increase fear and anxiety. (4)

The good news, though, is that regular exercise (just 20 minutes a day, three days a week) is often all it takes to burn off stress.

Yoga is a great, low-impact way to bring your hormones back to baseline. 

In fact, yoga is proven to reduce stress hormones and boost calming neurotransmitters. (5)

3. Nutrition

Are you having stress for breakfast and fear for lunch?

Believe it or not, the standard Western diet is packed with pro-inflammatory foods that increase stress. 

For starters, sugar and simple carbs, like bread, pasta, and cereal, increase stress hormones. 

The worst part, however, is that sugar acts as fuel for bad gut bacteria. 

When it comes down to it, a high-sugar/carb diet promotes stress, anxiety, obesity, and increases the risk of serious disease. 

But that’s just half the battle…

You’ll also want to eat foods that feed good gut bacteria and reduce inflammation, including: 

  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc)
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Wild-caught fish (salmon and sardines) (6)
  • Grass-fed beef
  • Pasture-raised eggs
  • Extra virgin coconut/olive oil

Together, an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, and meditation can normalize the emotional response. 

If you have any more questions about how emotions affect health, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.