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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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