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How Do Emotions Affect Your Health?

Posted in General Health 15 Apr, 2015

Emotions are an important part of being human, after all it's through our feelings that we communicate and relate to one another. But some emotions are more difficult to express than others, such as sadness or hopelessness, most notably because they aren't as socially acceptable as showing happiness or excitement.

It's good to be in touch with your emotions and we need to experience the whole spectrum if we want to be a happy, healthy and whole human being.

Anger

When we feel angry it can be tempting to kick, scream or lash out at our aggressors but this often results in feelings of guilt and embarrassment once we've calmed down. It's more important that we address our anger by recognising it for what it is, determining what caused us to feel angry in the first place and then looking at ways we can take steps to resolve those issues. Getting the anger out of our system can help us release these feelings that may otherwise affect us negativity in the long-term.

Tip: Try punching, kicking or screaming into a pillow whenever you feel things aren't going to plan. It won't hurt you or anyone else and you'll probably feel better!

Sadness

Sorrow can get to us from time to time. Crying can actually help you to relieve stress and women are reported to feel less sad and angry after crying than men, according to research by William Frey, a neuroscientist. Women also cry more frequently than men, at around 47 times a year on average while men cry only 7 times.

Crying can release pent up frustration and sadness, yet most people feel awkward being in the same vicinity as someone who has broken down. This has created a stigma that makes it more socially challenging for men to express their emotions, especially feelings of sadness.

Crying can help to restore psychological and physiological balance according to researchers. The effects of crying may benefit those who have difficulty expressing themselves to others, as it can increase feelings of intimacy and attachment between people.

Tip: When you feel like crying, let it out. Of course there are occasions where it may be seen as inappropriate to cry, but usually people will acknowledge you are upset and offer comfort.

Laughter

Although not, strictly speaking, an emotion, it has long been believed that laughter is a medicine for the mind and body, thanks to humour's therapeutic effects. It's believed to diminish pain, strengthen the immune system and protect us from the damaging effects of stress.

Laughter is thought to trigger the release of endorphins that promote an overall sense of wellbeing. There is also evidence to suggest that laughter supports the heart muscles, improving blood vessel function and increasing blood flow.

There are other benefits to laughter too. Along with being a great stress reliever, laughter can attract others to us, strengthen our relationships, defuse conflict and promote group bonding.

Tip: When you're feeling sad, watch a comedy show or have a good laugh with friends.

Stress

It might not seem like stress can be good for our health but, in small doses, it can improve our cognitive function while providing us with an adrenaline rush. Stress and the recuperation period that follows also encourages our bodies to adapt and become stronger in the long term, especially when it comes to physical exercise. Studies show it could protect us from the effects of ageing, and chronic stress may even reduce the risk of developing age-related conditions such as cancer, dementia and type 2 diabetes.

We are often told how bad stress is for our health but it can encourage us to get things done, enabling us to be more focused, benefiting our productivity levels overall.

Tip: Try something different such as filling in a crossword puzzle or completing a series of physical challenges within a time limit to increase your overall tolerance to stress.

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