Your Emotions & Your Health

Can My Emotions Affect My Health?
Most of us are familiar with the concept of the mind/body connection.  Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act.  When you are stressed, anxious or upset, your body tries to tell you that something isn’t right. For example, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer might develop after a particularly stressful event, such as the death of a loved one. There are many other examples of physical signs that your emotional health is out of balance like constant fatigue, weight loss or gain, headaches, and trouble sleeping.

Poor emotional health can weaken your body's immune system, making you more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times. Also, when you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, you may not take care of your physical health as well as you should. You may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or taking medicine that your doctor prescribes. Some individuals abuse alcohol or other drugs to try to make themselves feel better.

What is Good Emotional Health?
People with good emotional health are aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They have learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of life. They feel good about themselves and have healthy relationships.  However, as we all know, many things that happen in life can disrupt your emotional health and lead to sadness, stress or anxiety.  Research also shows that sometimes “good” changes can be just as stressful as “bad” changes.

You Can Improve Your Emotional Health
All of us have the capability to exert a great deal of control over our emotional health. The best place to start is to try to recognize your emotions and understand why you are having them. Sorting out the causes of sadness, stress and anxiety in your life can help you manage your emotional health. A few other suggestions might include the following ideas:

  • Express yourself in appropriate ways.  If stress, sadness or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping these things bottled up inside can make you feel worse. It’s OK to let your loved ones know when something is bothering you. However, keep in mind that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with your stressors in the best fashion.  At these times, it may be best to ask someone outside the situation for advice and support to help you improve your emotional health.

  • Live a balanced life. Try not to obsess about the problems at work, at school or at home that lead to negative feelings. This doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be happy when you feel stressed, anxious or upset. It’s important to deal with these negative feelings, but try to focus on the positive things in your life too. You may also need to find ways to let go of some things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. Make time for things you enjoy.

  • Take care of yourself. To have good emotional health, it’s important to take care of your body by having a regular routine for eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and exercising to relieve pent-up tension. Avoid overeating and don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.

  • The HealthQuest EAP can be a terrific resource.  Many of us are not comfortable talking to someone about the stress in our personal life and our emotional health.  However, most employees who have contacted the EAP regarding their concerns have been pleasantly surprised to see how helpful it can be.  Remember also, the EAP is confidential, available 24/7, and no charge.