Studies show that over 80 percent of all doctors’ visits involve some sort of social-emotional problem. (1)
As it turns out, we’re emotional beings!
Your emotional health is closely linked to your physical health and vice versa.
When you’re stressed, hormone levels change, but that’s not all…
In the short run, this can negatively affect your memory, mood, and energy.
Over time, chronic stress can increase the risk of serious disease.
Don’t go down the slippery slope of chronic stress!
Instead, nip it in the bud with healthier choices.
Here’s a closer look at the connection between physical and emotional health:
The Steep Consequences of Poor Emotional Health
Do you know someone who likes to play “the victim card?”
According to psychologist James Pennebaker from the University of Texas at Austin, people who constantly complain suffer the most. (1)
At the same time, burying your emotions isn’t a solution either.
Other studies show that cancer patients who stuff their feelings are more likely to die. (2)
Want to feel less pain?
As it turns out, positivity can help with that too.
The bottom line is, emotions aren’t just touchy-feely experiences—they’re physiological events.
Emotionally Linked Disorders
Over the course of days, months, and years, unprocessed emotions can catch up with you.
For starters, repressing your emotions can suppress the immune system.
Before long, this can trigger all sorts of illnesses, like:
Inflammation: fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis, chronic pain
Hormones: thyroid dysfunction, low testosterone, fatigue, obesity
Digestion: irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain
Respiration: shortness of breath, choking spells, chest pain
Pain: back pain, neck pain, abdominal pain
Nervous system: conversion, headache, dizziness
Gynecology: sexual dysfunction, infertility, pelvic pain
Vision: blurry vision, tunnel vision
Circulation: high blood pressure, chest pain, palpitations
Skin: itching, psoriasis, dermatitis
If you aren’t careful, poor emotional health can snowball, and at the center of it all is inflammation.
Stress, Inflammation and Your Health
What happens if you don’t get your emotional health under control?
Before long, stress and inflammation can overrun your body and brain.
For starters, chronic stress boosts hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.
During life-or-death moments this is a good thing.
For example, stress hormones can help you run away and fight back against attackers.
However, when stress sticks around too long it can increase the risk of:
Low sex drive
Believe it or not, these issues can all trace back to how stress affects the gut.
Chronically high-stress hormones damage gut bacteria and weaken the gut lining. (3)
Ultimately, inflammatory toxins can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body.
Before long, inflammation may damage arteries, promote obesity, and affect mood.
In fact, gut inflammation can even play a major role in ADHD and autism.
Here’s how to take control of your emotional health with diet, exercise, and lifestyle:
Is emotional eating undermining your emotional health?
Stress is everywhere and eating tasty treats can be an easy escape.
After all, nothing takes the edge off like downing a milkshake.
However, all that sugar can wreak havoc on your mental health.
For starters, sugar activates addictive centers in the brain and gets you hooked. (4)
At the same time, sugar fuels unhealthy gut bacteria and promotes inflammation.
In the short term, it can make you anxious, distracted, and low on energy.
Plus, sugar spikes blood glucose and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
What is it going to take to reclaim your emotional health?
#1 is to cut out the sugar and carbs.
#2 is to replace them with fibrous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and chard.
#3 is to regulate appetite and boost metabolism with exercise.
Before you know it, your food cravings will be a thing of the past!
Exercise Like You Mean It
Exercise is essential to emotional health in several ways.
First off, it reduces food cravings and makes it easier to adjust your diet.
At the same time, it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
In fact, exercise even improves learning by boosting a protein in the brain called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). (5)
BDNF helps form new synaptic connections and beefs up the brain.
And of course, exercise lowers the risk of obesity and heart disease.
Sleep Is Your New Superpower
Sleep like you mean it!
After all, sleep is arguably the most important health factor…period.
Sleep is the time when your body and brain repair damaged cells.
Unfortunately, poor sleep quality can lead to:
Longer recovery times
Sore muscles and joints
The good news is that getting at least six to nine hours of sleep every night can have a dramatic effect on all (that’s right, ALL) of these issues.
Take Control with Meditation
At its core, meditation allows your thoughts and emotions to flow freely.
It can reduce stress, boost productivity, improve sleep, and help manage food cravings.
In other words, it can work wonders on your physical and emotional health!
The key is, how do you create and maintain a consistent mediation practice?
Believe it or not, it’s harder than you think, so don’t feel bad if you struggle at first.
To begin with, aim for just 10-20 minutes a day.
Whatever happens, happens, and as long as you sit still until the timer goes off, count it as a win.
With that said, the best way to turbo-charge your progress is to use a guided meditation app like Waking Up by Sam Harris.
It’ll walk you through each mediation moment-by-moment.
If you have any more questions about improving your emotional health, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.