Every day we face so much pressure at work, at home, in our social circles and probably in our commutes too. We are like pressure cookers building up steam inside. However, with our need to be politically correct and emotionally cool, we tend to tamp down our emotions until we are ready to blow out and fall apart. It is important to understand these emotions are indicators of our mental health and deal with them right before they turn around and wreck our lives.
The mind-body connect
Ignoring our emotions and sweeping them under the carpet plays havoc with our health. Consider the phrases we use in our everyday parlance, trembling with fear, shudder at the thought, burn with anger, stomach churns with disgust all these are indicators of how emotions affect our health. These are not just phrases and expressions of language, they are a clear expression of how emotions affect our physical.
All major systems of the body like the cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine systems are regulated by the brain. The endocrine system, which secretes hormones has a strong influence on our emotional health. According to Charles Goodstein, “Thoughts and feelings are generated inside mind yet influence the secretion of hormones from the endocrine system, which affects almost all bodily functions.” Goodstein is a professor of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone School of Medicine.
It is no wonder that the disrupted mind, fraught with strong or conflicting emotions causes the body functions to be disrupted. This is conjunction with the pressures that we face is a huge onslaught on our emotional and physical health.
This doesn’t mean that a person has to be happy all the time. It simply means that the person has to be aware of his/thoughts feeling and behaviors and is able to handle them effectively. The good news is your thoughts and emotions are yours to handle. It is up to you to keep yourself emotionally healthy.
How to take care of your emotional health?
- Become aware of your thought processes, keep a tab on what thoughts you think. Are they predominantly positive or filled with negativity fear and anxiety? Recording the nature of your thoughts would help you understand and deal with them effectively.
- Try to understand what triggers negative emotions? Sometimes just a smell or something you see or hear could trigger off unwanted feelings of anxiety, pain or misery. It is then possible to act on those involuntary reactions by stopping them right where they start. Even avoiding or preparing to face these triggers could help you handle your emotions better.
- Train your mind to think positive thoughts. Positive affirmations could help. Get over negative thinking by stopping them as soon as they surface in your mind. Question and confront negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
- Make sure you respond appropriately to your emotions. If you are sad let your trusted friend know how you feel instead of trying to smile and put on a fake front that adds more stress.
- Having a gratitude journal where you record the things you are grateful for keeps your thoughts anchored on positive events and encourages positive thinking.
- Respond to people or circumstances do not react based on your emotions. Reacting is giving emotions a free ride.
- Forgive yourself and others. Remember that all of us are fallible and no one is perfect. Everyone needs forgiveness not because it is divine to forgive but because it helps keep you emotionally stable.
- We are all bound to fail at times, that is part of the natural process of learning. Make sure that you get up each time you fall, don’t keep beating yourself about it. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
- Find ways to reduce your stress. Make sure to learn techniques which you can help you relax and those you could use anywhere.
- Learn to accept yourself, do not become your worst critic, there is no way of escaping from yourself. A little self-appreciation goes a long way. It is important to work on relationships, supportive relationship/s can help see you through stressful times.
- Learn to remain positive despite changing circumstances. Take care of your body. It is important that you get adequate sleep every day, which in itself is a stress buster.
- Exercise could not only help keep your body fit but also help you get adequate sleep.
The saying ‘healthy mind in a healthy body’ is true but it would be truer if we say that a healthy mind healthy body. Hence, take care of your emotions, keep your mind fit and your thoughts in check to ensure that your mind is fit and your body is healthy.