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How Emotions Affect Your Health

Have you ever wondered how emotions affect your health?

I am fascinated by the mind-body connection.  Years of patient care has shown me the value of observing the role of emotion when healing.  I recently began reading an excellent book by Dr. Gabor Mate’.  (When the Body Says NO, Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection)

In this book the author explores how hard research now clearly links thought and emotional experience to physical health and disease.  In medical school this view of the mind-body connection didn’t exist as explicitly as it does now.  Many astute students and physicians suspected a linkage between emotion and illness but now we understand many of those pathways.

Those ignoring this linkage invite health disaster.   Choosing to live with negative emotion or prolonged stress will destroy the health of individuals believing this applies to someone else.

Types of Emotion

Psychologist Ross Buck describes three types of emotional responses.  He categorizes the emotions based on how conscious the person is of the actual emotion.

  • Emotion III–This is conscious emotion.  (How we feel).  This group involves emotions we clearly understand and experience, such as I am happy, sad or angry.
  • Emotion II–This group of emotions others see in us.  This includes our emotional displays that we consciously or unconsciously show to others.  (Think body language, speech patterns, facial gestures, etc.)
  • Emotion I–Physical changes triggered by emotion.  This includes nervous system activity, hormonal release and immune responses.  We cannot observe these changes directly externally.  This response can occur without awareness of the emotional expression.

Emotion I is the exact mechanism that leads to disease.  I already covered in great detail the link between stress and the physical changes that can promote  disease.  (What is stress?)

Changing Emotion can Change Health

So if unconscious emotion can trigger disease by immune suppression, elevated stress hormones, and changes in digestive function, what can we do about it?

That is the burning question!!!

People can have so many complex emotions, triggers, and long standing emotional injuries.  I suspect one answer doesn’t exist for everyone.  We can start with raising awareness to the role emotional energy plays in our daily lives.

Many types of daily habits can bring us closer to our unconscious mind.  If we approach those activities with the intention of learning more about ourselves and exploring emotion, I believe several of these practices can open doors to how negative emotions impact our health.

Examples include:

Each of the practices listed can improve the link between mind and body and often create opportunity to identify or release negative or unhelpful emotional patterns.

I believe that practiced consistently any or all of the listed therapies can improve an individuals sense of well-being, health, and emotional resilience.    In turn, research clearly reveals that improving emotional balance can improve health.

I hope if you read this you will try exploring how emotions drive your current health and behavior.  I hope you will explore some of the listed practices and listen to what your body tells you.

As always, your feedback, questions, and comments are welcome.

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Benefits of Sleep

Check out this short video discussing surprising benefits of sleep!

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Nutritional Systems: Habits for Weight Loss

I recently read an excellent article from habit guru James Clear.  The article discussed how systems, not necessarily goals lead to the results we want in life.  He gave many excellent examples related to exercise.  The article made me think about how nutritional systems can influence weight loss.

Imagine you start with a worthy and challenging goal of losing 15 pounds. Setting this specific goal helps you create a plan to reach the goal.  I call this process goal-tending.

To reach your goal you must develop plans, implemented over the desired timeline. Your ACTIONS become the desired behavior.  One meal may not affect the ultimate goal.  But two or three weeks of consistent focused dietary effort may achieve the desired result.  The SYSTEM of dietary habits leads to the result.

Occasional backslides or shortcomings do not dash your efforts, the system prevails if applied.  

Don’t stress about the occasional lapse…work the system.

SYSTEM = HABITS

HABITS trump GOALS.

The goal provides a target, goal-tending creates a plan, living the habit or working the system required of the plan is actually the desired behavior.  The Goal takes care of itself.

Nutritional Habits For Weight Loss

Applying the principle of goal-tending but more importantly Habit development to nutrition will help you stay on track with improving health, losing weight, improving performance, or maintaining vitality.  I introduced the idea of Family Nutrition as a habit worthy of development earlier this month.

The following nutritional habits routinely lead to successful weight loss?

  • Never drink soda, fruit juice, or sweetened beverages
  • Habitually avoiding or severely limiting alcohol consumption
  • Avoiding pies, cakes, pastries, pasta, rice, and bread
  • Developing the habit of consuming 30 gms of protein within 30 minutes of waking (Like two eggs)
  • Consider intermittent fasting
  • Prepare healthy fat/protein snacks (i.e. Jerky, cheese, nuts) to eat when hungry
  • Try to home cook 70% of meals

These habits lead to behaviors that induce healthy weight loss.

Though more exercise can play a huge role, nutrition/fueling the body properly always comes first.

The habits illustrated above boost ENERGY which usually triggers a natural tendency to increase physical activity.

Bottom line?

Don’t get hung up stressing over how many reps you did at the gym.  Don’t blow up over an dietary lapse!

Focus on the process, the habits necessary to ultimately achieve.  If you do the work, working the correct system, purposefully developing successful habits, the results take care of themselves.

Habits achieve results.  Goals help us build the road map.  Ultimately the work must be done.

 

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How Purposeful Rest Improves Health

“Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

  ~Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne

All work and No Play

Ask anyone over 40, the older one gets that faster time flies! The highest performers in life understand the value of rest.

In my career as a physician I have lived all the stereotypes. I worked 48-72 hours straight, spending weeks without adequate rest or sleep.  My work has special stress dealing with raw human emotion, disease, and the standard hazards of running a medical practice.

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Tips for Influenza Prevention

 

 

 

 

 

 

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