Feelings: The Mind-Body Connection Important for Your Health
By Hannah Woit
The impact of your emotions goes beyond your mental health--your feelings have implications for various aspects of your physical health as well. Here’s a rundown:
It pays to be positive! According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, in addition to increased creativity, awe, and possibilities, positivity can get you more sleep and happiness overall and less time for recovery from cardiovascular stress and colds.
And the correlation doesn’t seem to be that the happier you are, the better your health. How is your emodiversity? Emodiversity is the mixture of your emotions and their intensity. Research indicates that the more diverse the positive emotions you experience, the more likely you are to have lower inflammation. This seems to hold irrespective of your average positivity and negativity, your body mass index, anti-inflammatory medicines, personality type, and other factors.
Another boon for our physical health is our ability to forgive, which some in the medical field define as “fully accepting that a negative event has occurred and relinquishing our negative feelings surrounding the circumstance”. Studies have found that being more forgiving can be positive for our mental, emotional, and physical health. Forgiveness is associated with having lower blood pressure levels, superior cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system, and a longer lifespan.
Negative feelings and outlooks are associated with chronic stress. In the shorter term, this can throw your hormones out of balance, as well as the chemicals in your brain that have to do with happiness, and suppress your immune system. It can also prevent you from living a longer life by shortening your telomeres, which are the tips of the strands of your DNA, by quickening the aging process.
However, there are things you can do to combat negativity in a way that protects your health. Keep an eye out for this upcoming Monday’s post, which will feature tips for maximizing your positive emotions and processing your negative ones so you can live your happiest, healthiest life.