How Do Emotions Affect Your Overall Health?

How Do Emotions Affect Your Overall Health?

For many years, people have either suspected or known that health of the body is influenced by that of the mind. You may say, “My heart hurts,” after a breakup because the intense emotions cause you physical pain. On the other hand, a feeling of elation may boost energy levels and reduce your need for caffeine. 

The American Psychological Association (APA) states that emotions are subject to mental reactions that involve physical and behavioral responses. In simpler terms, your emotions can influence the body, mind, and even your actions. You experience a variety of emotions daily, so knowing what they are, why you feel them, and how they affect you can help you better understand how they influence your overall health. 

Types Of Emotions

Mental health experts suggest that emotions fall into two categories: basic emotions and complex emotions. Basic emotions are revealed by recognizable facial expressions and happen automatically. Such emotions include:

  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Surprise
  • Joy
  • Disgust
  • Anger

Those emotions are intertwined with human behavior and present from birth. Complex emotions, on the other hand, are not universal and do not have such recognizable facial expressions associated with them. These complex emotions include:

  • Envy
  • Love
  • Grief
  • Gratitude
  • Worry
  • Pride
  • Regret
  • Embarrassment
  • Jealousy

There are many more complex emotions that are not on the above list. The APA suggests that complex emotions are typically the result of two or more emotions. Hate, for example, could be a combination of jealousy, disgust, and anger. Once again, these complex emotions do not have the same facial tells as basic emotions. 

How Emotions Affect Your Physical Health

According to research, there is a link between positive emotions and physical health. In fact, people with a more positive outlook on life tend to have lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Additionally, they have a reduced risk of heart disease, but researchers don’t fully understand if positive emotions lead to better health or if being in good health contributes to positive emotions. For now, experts theorize that a combination of both factors are at play. 

Some evidence shows that experiencing positive emotions can affect recovery from an injury or sickness. One study found that having a positive outlook influenced how quickly participants got better, noting that positivity even impacted survival rates. Negative emotions, on the other hand, have an association with negative health issues or symptoms. People who cannot successfully manage emotions may live with stress, or have a higher likelihood of other health complications. 

How Emotions Affect Your Mental Health

When trying to assess how emotions affect your mental health, you have to first establish if the emotions are “bad” or negative. Negative emotions usually indicate a problem that requires your attention. If you struggle to manage those negative emotions, or simply attempt to ignore them when they arise, they can negatively affect your mental health. If you bottle these emotions up for too long, such as chronic anger, fear, or sadness, your risk of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse increases. 

If you are able to recognize negative emotions for what they are and learn to manage those feelings, you can move beyond them and develop resilience. Resilient people tend to move past negativity and usually have more positive emotions. In fact, they usually learn to find meaning in their life, even when it gets hard. That doesn’t mean they are free of negative emotions; rather, they recognize those feelings, deal with the issues, and do their best to change their outlook on life. 

Although research indicates a link between optimism and hope and better health, constant positive thinking can damage your mental health. There is such a thing as toxic positivity, which leads to unreal expectations and an inability to feel negative emotions. When you consider your emotions, aim to strike a balance between the positive and negative ones. Negative emotions serve their purpose as much as the positive ones do, but just remember that you have to be negative all the time. Just remember to feel emotions as they come and recognize why you’re feeling them!



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