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How Emotional Health Affects Physical Health

Studies on how stress affects our immune system and cardiovascular health go to show that health is more than just about our body; it also has something to do with our emotional well-being.

As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), mental or emotional health refers to the state of well-being in which a person realizes his or her potential and is capable of coping with the stresses in life.

Several factors can affect one’s emotional well-being. Aside from relationships and a sense of purpose, one’s physical health also affects one’s emotional well-being.

Emotional and physical health are closely related to each other. It’s impossible to remove one in the equation. Any change in either of them affects the other.

How Emotional Health Affects Physical Health

Our emotions don’t just affect us psychologically but also physically. Several studies have proven that negative emotions also affect our health negatively.

In one study, it shows how emotions and stress can have an impact on the body’s immune function. The research involves men and women who were asked to recall the best and worst events of their lives. The subjects were then given flu shots. For several weeks, their antibody levels were measured. Those who dwell on distressing episodes of their lives were shown to have low levels of antibody while those who recalled more of their happy memories were shown to have higher levels of antibody.

A negative response to stress is shown to affect cardiovascular health. Several studies revealed that those who are highly stressed, be it at work, in personal relationships, or in dealing with finances and disasters are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease.

Take Care of Your Emotional Health

Taking care of your emotional health is one of the best decisions you can make for your overall well-being. Just like in taking care of your physical health, emotional health requires some effort and dedication. It may not be easy but it’s worth every effort.

Here are some ways on how you can boost your emotional health:

  1. Cultivate meaningful relationships There is a piece of strong evidence showing how vital healthy relationships are to one’s overall health and well-being. Those with strong social relationships are less likely to catch an infection, die prematurely, and be able to deal with stress better. So, reach out and learn to cultivate and grow relationships with other people.

  2. Practice gratitude Practising gratitude doesn’t just improve psychological health but is also shown to improve physical health. Grateful people are shown to sleep better and take care of themselves than those who often see the negative side of things.

  3. Learn to deal with repetitive thoughts Worrying is an unhealthy mental habit. It drains your energy, makes you anxious, and triggers other negative emotions like fear and depression. Learning to deal with these repetitive thoughts effectively can help boost your emotional health.

  4. Get enough sleep Sleep is the simplest way to improve your emotional health. Studies have shown how sleep deprivation can affect one’s mood. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found out that when sleep-deprived subjects resumed normal sleep, a dramatic improvement in their mood was seen.

  5. Address emotional distress The body has its ways of telling you that you’re distressed. When you’re having sleep disturbances, unexplained weight loss, and when you’re having unexplained physical symptoms like headache, stomach upset, and chronic pain, then you’re more likely under stress.

According to research, stress and negative emotions can directly affect the production of proinflammatory cytokines. It also affects the immune function which explains why negative emotions and stressful situations place you at greater risk of a wide array of health problems.

This is why it’s important to learn to address distress before it escalates. Dissociation and distracting techniques are some of the strategies you can use to reduce distress.


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