Feel Your Way to a Healthier Body
How do our emotions affect our bodies? Do the ways in which we deal with those emotions matter? Some researchers say our emotions can either be beneficial or detrimental to our overall wellbeing.
Conventional medicine has taught us that illnesses are usually the result of our bodies aging, the environment around us, or our unhealthy life choices. If you find yourself losing your hearing it is most likely related to getting older. If you have an upset stomach then a virus or something you ate is probably the culprit. However, what conventional medicine rarely tells us is that tending to our emotions can have a positive impact on our health and improve our overall life satisfaction.
Is it possible to feel your way to a healthier life? According to several studies, by taking care of your emotions in healthy ways, you can improve your health and wellbeing. A few of the ways in which you can care for your emotional wellbeing are by, practicing gratitude, engaging in laughter, and expressing your emotions in healthy ways.
Dr. Amit Sood, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic, noticed that the patients who practiced gratitude, despite their illness, were able to recover at a faster rate than those patients who did not practice gratitude. Interestingly, Dr. Rollin McCraty of the Institute of Heart Math, found that feelings of gratitude could produce oxytocin in our brains, which can then reduce stress and help our nervous system relaxe. When our nervous system is relaxed, it allows the increase of oxygen to travel to the tissues of our body, which can enhance the healing process. For more tips on how to practice gratitude, consider watching Dr. Amit Sood’s video on the Five Depths of Gratitude.
Laugh a Little
Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center found that when people engaged in laughter it could reduce their risk of a heart attack due to the reduction in stress levels. Additionally, Dr. Lee Ber of Loma Linda University found that laughing could produce human growth hormones that can aid in cellular repair. So, if you find yourself feeling sad, ill, or simply wishing to improve your overall well being, try watching a funny movie, or reading a few jokes in order to help your body heal. If you are having trouble finding something to laugh about, take a look at this Ted Talk by Ida Abdalkhani on how to become happier in five minutes.
When emotions are bottled up with no way to express them, they can be dangerous to your health. Researchers at Michigan found that when emotions are suppressed, the risk for a heart attack increases significantly. In a different study, researchers found that repressing emotions, particularly anger can be linked to cancer, and that the survival rate of breast cancer survivors who expressed their anger in healthy ways doubled compared to those who held on to their anger. That being said, it is important to learn to express your emotions in healthy ways, in order to improve your health. Some of the ways that can be done is through journaling, drawing, painting, yoga, or talking to a professional. For more ideas on how to express your emotions in a healthy way, take a look at this post by Dr. Shelly Carson.
Feel Better Inside and Out
We are designed to feel a range of emotions, both positive and negative. How we choose to deal with emotions can improve our well being or cripple it. As you go about your daily life, find time to notice your emotions and create moments in which you can address them in healthy ways: by being grateful, laughing, or expressing them in creative ways. Once you begin to do this, you will notice a shift, not only in your emotional health, but also in your physical health.
Abdalkhani, I. (2015, March 15). Happier in 5 Minutes | Ida Abdalkhani | TEDxOhioStateUniversity. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HJG63EXCmw
Anastasia Stephens, A. (2011, August 24). The link between emotions and health. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from https://www.psychologies.co.uk/self/the-link-between-emotions-and-health.html
Beck, J. (2015, November 18). How to Get Better at Expressing Emotions. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/11/how-to-get-better-at-expressing-emotions/416493/
Carson, S. (2012, February 21). Use Creativity to Combat Negative Emotions. Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.shelleycarson.com/blog/use-creativity-to-combat-negative-emotions
Sood, A. (2015, October 24). Five Depths of Gratitude. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from https://youtu.be/bwPtJ6yjl8E
The Link Between Cancer and Unexpressed Anger. (2006). Retrieved February 12, 2016, from http://www.alternative-cancer-care.com/cancer-anger-link.html