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Emotions and Your Well-being by June
Emotions are a fact of life for all human beings. Until
recently, there seemed to be little we could do about our feelings other than
express or hide them. Experts now tell us that feelings play a large role on how
our body heals and stays healthy. Take a closer look at how your emotions both
help and threaten your general level of health and well-being.
We all have them. Positive, uplifting soaring feelings. Bad dark gloomy
moods. Surging fiery emotions. They're a fact of everyday life, something we
often take for granted. They may seem very hard, if not impossible to control.
Just natural reactions to what we think and experience. Non-negotiable. Or are
they? Can we learn to work with our emotions - to shape our feelings?
Experts say we can. Not only that, but most recommend that we do. Cruising
through the low feelings and bringing ourselves back up to a balanced emotional
level can benefit both our mental outlook and physical well-being. Emotions are
connected to the personal meaning that we give to events, things, situations,
people and experiences. This personal meaning can be changed and transformed, if
we choose to do so.
Causal Chain of Emotions
The Emotional-Body Connection
We all have basic emotional needs for bonding with other people and for
healthy emotional expression. Medical researchers consider emotions to be a sort
of biofeedback gauge for our bodies. Five particular emotions: pain, anger,
fear, pleasure and love are thought to be directly related to our physical
selves. The first three are seen as "danger" emotions that warn us of unmet
needs or immediate threat, while the last two are "comfort" emotions. Love and
pleasure give us signals that we can relax and enjoy, that our needs are
People who tend to repress feeling the danger emotions often move into the
emotion of hopelessness. This has been linked with cancer and other serious
diseases. It is important to express old emotional pain, anger and fears that
stop us from feeling love and pleasure. This may mean drilling through layers of
repressed emotions and beliefs. Ones that we have carried around with us for
years, even decades.
We feel many more emotions, yet most relate to the basic five mentioned
above. To benefit from healthy positive emotions, we may need to work on
developing emotional mastery. This doesn't mean feeling no emotions or being
stoic. It means being able to transform our emotions by adopting empowering and
health-sustaining beliefs about ourselves, our lives and the world around us.
These changed healthy beliefs lead us to feel healthier emotions like courage,
empathy and tolerance.
Scientists have discovered a direct link between the emotional centers in the
brain and the immune system. Healthy emotions can help us resist infections,
colds and flus. People diagnosed with serious illnesses often fare better or
worse depending on their habitual emotions. In studies, people diagnosed with
diseases like leukemia, heart problems and cancer lived longer if their emotions
were mostly positive and uplifting. Habitual feelings of fear, anger,
hopelessness, sadness or pessimism coincided with faster declines in physical
health and even death.
If we feel churning emotions like anger, fear,
and pain on a habitual level, they take their toll. Overstimulated hormones race
through our blood which taxes our heart, our immune and nervous systems and the
way we digest our food. On the other hand, when we habitually feel contentment,
pleasure, joy and love, relaxing hormones are at work, which help our bodies
function as they are meant to. We sleep better, heal faster, interact more
congenially and enjoy a brighter mental outlook.
The key to this shift is to work on our limiting beliefs and the emotional
reactions that follow. Looking at life philosophically helps. Accepting people
for what they are helps. Most importantly, accepting yourself gives you power to
learn from your experiences and to try harder next time without getting
depressed or angry with yourself.
Ideally, emotional mastery or intelligence is shaped as we grow up. Sadly,
this is not always the case. Sometimes habitual negative emotions surface when
things happen, emotions that reinforce a negative self image or deep-set belief
that we are not loveable or capable of succeeding in life. If you find yourself
feeling this way on a regular basis, therapy or self-help study can help. It can
feel very freeing to let go of embedded beliefs and buried emotions that color
your self image and cripple your ambition. Not only that, but it can add
vibrance and vitality to your physical health.
Every day we all feel a variety of emotions, responses to our mind's
interpretation of what we experience. If we habitually feel negative emotions,
it can wear us down. It can affect our health. If we work through these and help
ourselves feel positive and uplifting emotions, the opposite is true. Our minds
and bodies can function in a healthier way with more endurance. Pay attention to
your emotions and learn to work with them. The effort can help you stay healthy
and strong. It can help you enjoy a happier and saner life. Well worth the time
EQ.org - The Online Source for
Emotional Intelligence offers articles related to emotions and their effect on
health and well-being.
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