It’s hard to ignore the role your emotions can play in keeping your physical body well and I am most definitely not about to try and convince you that the sole reason for illness is in our mind or that we can cure illness simply by understanding how the mind and body work together.
What I will say however is that the mind and body are so innately connected that it is only natural that emotions can wield such great power over your body.
We have all experienced this connection, which put simply is the way your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. If your emotions are positive and uplifting your body releases serotonin, dopamine or oxytocin, all which help balance moods, digestion, behaviour and sleep. When you are stressed, upset or anxious, your brain will instruct the release of cortisol, which creates a physical response of urgency or fear. Warning signals may manifest physically such as high blood pressure or even stomach ulcers in extremely stressful situations. This is a clear and obvious example of how your body can physically show you that something is going on at an emotional level.
Emotional stress, be it acute or chronic can appear physically by means of: headaches, insomnia, chest pain, back pain, sweating, digestive issues, weight gain or loss – just to rattle off a few of the most common.
Poor emotional health weakens the body’s immune system, which in turn makes you more likely to come down with a cold or infection during emotionally difficult situations. When you feel low and out of balance you are also less likely to be taking adequate care of yourself. Your diet becomes less than nutritious and you don’t have the energy or desire to exercise. Reports have shown that poor emotional heath often results in the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. (www.familydoctor.com)
A “TIME magazine” special showed that happiness, hopefulness, optimism and contentment “appear to reduce the risk or limit the severity of cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension, colds and upper-respiratory infections,” while “depression — the extreme opposite of happiness — can worsen heart disease, diabetes and a host of other illnesses.”
Ayurveda states that poor digestion feeds the majority of bodily diseases, which highlights the importance of smooth working digestion. If our emotions are out of whack, our digestion suffers hence increasing the likelihood of disease. The link between emotions, digestion and elimination is slowly gaining momentum in Western Medicine. (The Ayurveda Encyclopedia, Swami Sadashiva Tirtha) By keeping our emotional health in check we can most definitely support and maintain our bodily functions and hence physical health.
Many researchers agree that physically illnesses are often the result of an emotional inflammatory response to trauma or negative experiences. These emotional inflammatory responses can later become physical issues and disease if emotional balance and healing does not take place. Emotions and trauma can be stored in the body’s cells causing inflammation and the spread/growth of mutated tissues in the body. (The Essential Life)
The good news is that there are many natural ways we can support and balance our emotional well-being which will increase happiness and decrease physical ailments. Here are a few key ones for you:
- Make sure you eat right as food can definitely affect your mood. Chemical and synthetic substances used in the preparation of most processed foods affect the biochemistry of your body’s cells which in turn can play a major role in mood fluctuations and emotional well-being.
- Meditation and Pranayama – we have all heard about the limitless number of benefits here. This can also include mantras and positive affirmations to support reprograming of the mind. I can assure you the benefits of meditation certainly help support your emotional well-being. Read more here.
- Daily movement is a must for emotional and physical well-being. Walking, running, swimming and asanas are great options. Try and select an activity that suits your constitution (dosha).
- Use scents such as pure therapeutic grade essential oils. These magical potions can facilitate a rapid emotional response in the brain and the body. They assist us by changing the nervous systems biochemistry to facilitate sleep, improved memory, increase energy levels, reduce stress and relieve nausea. Aromatherapy and the inhalation of essential oils places them directly in the limbic system of the brain. This part of the brain rules emotions, which is why certain oils trigger various emotions. The limbic system is also directly connected to parts of the brain which control various bodily functions, so feeding the limbic system with healing essential oils can help balance emotions, shift old habits and support physical functions of the body… perfect combo! Shop essential oils here or book a Magical Potions 101 workshop here.
- Regular massage is a great way to decrease stress, help release emotional blockages and to stimulate your organs and circulation. Self-massage (abhyanga) is also a great way to show self-love and care. Daily self-massage for 15 minutes can help decrease the effect of aging, assist sleep and balance your doshas & emotions. You may even wish to consider sound therapy, acupuncture and reiki.
- Detox the body and the environment in which you live. Think cleaning products, perfumes, tooth pastes, air fresheners. Mass produced products typically contain a massive concoction of toxic chemicals that your body does not know how to process. Hence, these toxins build up in your body over time and eventually disrupt the balance and function of your cells thus leading to disease.
Balancing your emotional health is your responsibility. If you want to be well and balanced it’s a decision only you can commit to and make. Many people are comfortable with living with niggling aliments and perhaps assume because their parents had the same things going on that they are destined to have to deal with for a lifetime also.
Yes, your body type may be predetermined to have this or that going on, but you have the choice on how you manage it. Whether you feed it… or heal it so to speak. Emotionally you can choose to be calm and happy. It takes mindfulness. If you fall off the calm bus, don’t be harsh with yourself. A good mindset can really affect your immunity and the way your body functions.
Finding the source of our emotional pain can be as easy as tapping into our thought patterns and judgments. Emotional reactions occur following our thoughts and ideas of how things are or how we think they should be. Our beliefs, upbringing and circles of friends for instance can largely affect these thoughts. Outside factors are simply triggers for us, whilst the cause of our response and the emotion it brings up is all generated from within.
So in summary, trust that reducing stress and letting go of judgements, ridged beliefs and attachments can be one of the master keys to your overall health and well-being. Balancing emotions now, will help prevent physical disease in years to come. Amen x
REFERENCES: http://www.mercola.com; http://www.familydoctore.org; Time Magazine: http://www.time.com; The Ayurveda Encyclopaedia, Swami Sadashiv; Essential Life, 2nd Edition 2015; Image: hdwallpapersin.com