Emotional Health: Does It Effect Your Physical Health?

 emotionsDid you know that there is a connection between your physical health and the way your body responds to the way you think, feel and act, otherwise know as your emotional health? You better believe there is!

People who are emotionally healthy are aware of their thoughts, the emotions caused by their thoughts and the behaviors that their emotions lead to. It may seem rather simple but in reality, it is rather complex. How many of us are truly emotionally healthy? Research shows that much less than half of Americans fit the bill. In a study conducted in August of this year research shows that on average the percentage of Americans who are emotionally healthy (scoring above 90) ranges from a low of 24% to a high of 36%.

It’s no doubt when you consider that our day to day lives are full of stress and problems that arise often, sometimes seemingly minute to minute. There are  many different things that can, and do, happen in life that can disrupt our emotional health and lead to strong, even very strong feelings of sadness, anger, betrayal, stress or anxiety. A few examples of these situations are:

  •  Dealing with the death of a loved one
  • Getting divorced or married
  • Having a baby
  • Having a child leave or return home
  • Dealing with family related issues
  • Moving to a new residence
  • Suffering a severe illness or injury
  • Switching jobs
  • Getting a job promotion
  • Being laid off/fired from your job
  • Experiencing money problems

When we are experiencing strong emotions, stress or anxiety our body tries to tell us that something just isn’t quite right. For example, high blood pressure or an ulcer could develop after a particularly stressful event, such as the death of a loved one or losing one’s job. There are a myriad of  physical signs that your emotional health is out of balance, they include:

  •  Back pain
  • Change in appetite (eating less or more food)
  • Chest pain
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • General aches and pains
  • Headaches (can be severe)
  • Heart palpitations (feeling like your heart is racing)
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sexual problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stiff neck
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight gain or loss

Poor emotional health usually leads to a weakening of the body’s immune system, making it much more likely that you’ll pick up a cold, the flu, an infection or viruses during an emotionally difficult time. Most people don’t recognize, or simply overlook, the fact that good changes can be just as stressful, sometimes even more so than bad changes. It should be noted that any  change can, and usually will, trigger emotions that can lead to stress and/or anxiety if not handled properly.

Most people do not take care of their health as well as they should during an emotionally  difficult time, which adds to the problem.  It can be difficult to feel motivated to exercise, eat the nutritious foods you should or even take and medications your doctor has prescribed.  Abuse of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs can come into play during these emotionally  challenging  times as well, none of which are good for your body, but are often used to lean on. So, how do we improve our emotional health?

First off, it is extremely important to recognize each of your emotions and understand why you are having them. Sort out the causes of sadness, stress and/or anxiety in your life. Is it a situation you have any control over?  If so, change it. If it’s not a situation that you can change, decide what you  can  do about it? You may decide that the only thing you do have control over in the entire situation is how you choose to react to it. If that’s the case, control how you choose to react.


Express your feelings in appropriate ways. If feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety are causing physical complications for you, keeping these feelings bottled up inside yourself will only make you feel worse. Know that it’s OK to let your friends/loved ones know when something is bothering you or has you upset. However, know too that your friends and family may not necessarily be able to help you deal with your feelings appropriately. At these times, you may need to ask someone outside the situation (i.e., your family doctor, a counselor/psychiatrist or religious  adviser) for advice and/or support in order to help you improve your emotional health.


Live a balanced life. It is important to avoid obsessing about the problems in your life whether they be at work, school or home, that lead you to feel negative feelings.  Now that doesn’t mean you have to fake being happy each time you feel stressed, anxious or upset, in fact that can be detrimental.  It is very important to deal with all of your negative feelings, but it is equally important to focus on all of the positive things in your life too. All too often, we get wrapped up in the bad things and forget to even recognize, let alone take time to be thankful for, all the positives. At our house, I made my kids and I a  gratitude  journal to keep track of all the things that we are grateful for, that make us feel happy and the things that bring us peace. Listing your blessings is a good way to give your health a boost and improve your overall outlook on life.

Another important step is to find ways of letting go of the things in life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. When my kids get frustrated with a certain situation I take the m up to the lake. They walk around the close by areas collecting rocks. After they’ve found the collection that stood out to them for whatever reason, they throw each and every one of them into the lake with as much strength and fury as their little arms can give.  Sometimes they even shout out at the rocks until they hit the water with a big splash.  It’s been interesting to watch each of them as they go through their little ritual.  I’ve found that after doing this they are able to talk about it and get it off of their chests.  With the exception of one of them they are then able to move on in a forward and productive fashion having left their problems, stress, anxiety and emotions on the bottom of the lake. Likewise, it is equally important to take (or make) time for things that you enjoy doing.  Replacing the negative emotions and feelings with a positive experience is a good way to balance things out.

Develop resilience.  People who have resilience are able to cope with stress in a positive and healthy way.  Resilience is a tough one but can be learned and strengthened through different strategies. Some of these strategies include having a circle of friends/family for social support, keeping a positive view of yourself and your abilities to handle situations as they arise, accepting change for what it is and not dwelling on the negative aspects it brings and keeping things in perspective (not turning the molehill into a mountain).

Actively calm your mind and body.  Relaxation methods, such as yoga and meditation, are helpful ways to bring your emotions into balance.  Meditation is a form of guided thought but can take many forms. Some people meditate by exercising, stretching or deep breathing patterns.  Personally, when I need to focus on me and reign in my thoughts and emotions I get the best results from a workout…an intense workout…ya know, the kind that leaves me hobbling around like an 80 year old grandma for near a week!  Lol,  seriously  though, since we are all unique we will each experience our own “best results” from different forms of meditation.  


Take care of yourself.  In order to have good emotional health, it’s important to have good physical health; take care of your body by having a regular routine for healthy meals, getting proper amounts of sleep and exercising (which helps relieve pent-up tension and frustration). As always, avoid overeating and don’t abuse drugs and/or alcohol; they could end up causing family and/or health problems. No bueno. Nope, not at all. 🙂

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