There is a growing body of evidence that illnesses in the body are trapped emotions that are affecting us in real, physical ways. By releasing suppressed, repressed, and trapped negative emotions, we can heal our bodies and our minds. In this article we will look at the ways that emotions affect your body. Here’s How Your Emotions Affect Your Health
You can, of course, feel emotions in your body as physiological changes, For example, when you are embarrassed your face flushes red and you feel hot with the rush of blood to your face. In this way, you know how some emotions can be felt physically in the body. Similarly, fear might make you feel tightness in your stomach and muscle tension.
There is a mental component to how we process emotions, in how we interpret the event. For example, if your car breaks down on your way to work, you can feel frustration about it or you can feel that you have received a message that you need to slow down this morning and take care of your valuable possessions. Deciding how to feel about a physiological emotion in your body is the mental component of the mind-body connection that determines how emotions affect your body.
Dr. Mercola says ‘The classic definition of stress is ‘any real or imagined threat, and your body’s response to it.’ Your body’s natural stress response can have a significant impact on your immune function, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, hormonal balance, and much more.’
A University of Michigan study looked at whether or not we can cultivate positive emotions to affect our body and optimize health. They found that ‘Negative emotions (e.g., fear, anger, and sadness) narrow an individual’s momentary thought’action repertoire toward specific actions that served the ancestral function of promoting survival.’ In other words, our fight or flight response kicks in when we have a negative emotion and we feel either aggressive or like we need to hide from the feelings.
Researchers at the Department of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania say ‘psychological factors might influence immunity and immune system’mediated disease.’ Also, the study found ‘substantial evidence that factors such as stress, negative affect [emotions], clinical depression, social support, and repression/denial can influence both cellular and humoral [lymphatic fluid] indicators of immune status and function.’
Negative emotions have a major impact on the immune system of the body. ‘At least in the case of the less serious infectious diseases (colds, influenza, herpes), [there are] consistent and convincing evidence of links between stress and negative affect [emotions] and disease onset and progression.’ In other words, if you are in a bad mood, feeling sad, angry, or stressed, you are more likely to get sick from even something like the flu.
When you feel joy, happiness, excitement, hopeful, appreciated, respected, or loved, your body responds by releasing endorphins and oxytocin, often called ‘the cuddle hormone.’ We feel good when we have these emotions and we want even more of the good, positive emotions, like a drug craving.
Unlike negative emotions that can stay trapped in the body, positive emotions help remove the effect of negative emotions in the body. Positive emotions don’t get trapped in our bodies, but it is believed that they trigger cellular changes that improve the normal functioning of the body.
The University of Michigan scientists say that positive emotions (e.g., joy, interest, and contentment) broaden an individual’s momentary thought-action repertoire, which in turn can build that individual’s enduring personal resources, resources that also served the ancestral function of promoting survival.
One implication of the broaden-and-build model is that positive emotions have an undoing effect on negative emotions. By broadening the momentary thought-action repertoire, positive emotions loosen the hold that negative emotions gain on an individual’s mind and body by undoing the narrowed psychological and physiological preparation for specific action. Indeed, empirical studies have shown that contentment and joy speed recovery from the cardiovascular aftereffects of negative emotions.
Learn to identify negative emotions in your body. Practicing self-awareness and mastery is the key. When you realize that you feel frustrated, for example, where do you notice the changes in your body? Once you feel these stress changes in your muscles and internal organs, you can better identify the emotion and cope with both your internal processing of the emotion, and relaxing your muscles to change how you feel.
Change your processing of the emotion, by reframing the thought from ‘This is s frustrating’ to ‘This is just a minor setback. Everything will be ok.’ Then work on relaxing the muscles of your shoulders and upper back by first lifting and then releasing your shoulders. Many of us carry tension here, so the shoulders are good place to start when you are re-learning how emotions affect your body.