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The Connection between Emotional Health and Physical Health

By on November 29, 2018
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by Tami Mungenast CPT CNWC

There is a proven link between your emotional health and physical health so it is important to take time to nurture both. To be completely healthy you should not only take care of your body but care for you overall emotional health as well. 

How does emotional health affect the body? Anxiety and depression have been shown to increase the risk for chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Studies found that depression puts people at a 41% higher risk for illness. On the other hand, studies show that people who achieve a level of mental health and perseverance to manage stress are more likely to prevail during illness. The attitude of gratitude can also help improve health makers. Feelings of gratitude have been show to boost immune system function, lower blood pressure and speed the healing process. Recent studies have shown that emotions of love, contentment and gratitude increase the brains production of Oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that helps the body relax and improves oxygenation to tissues to help the body repair. Studies of epigenetics, the study of changes that modifies gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself, have proven that environmental factors can affect our genetic expression and whether you develop certain diseases or not. Emotions can turn on or off this expression of genes and directly impact our overall health and risk to disease.  A study by the Institute of Science (5/20/14) showed that the relaxation response through meditative practice has shown to positively affect 2209 genes in our body. 

How Should You Care for Your Emotional and Physical Well-Being?

Now that we realize how much of an impact your emotional health has on your physical well-being, it’s time to work towards improving it. At first it may seem hard to do, but slowing down and simplifying routines can go a long way to strengthening your mental and physical health.

Eat right. A healthy, regular diet is good for the body and mind. Eating healthy helps keep your mood stable and your focus clear. 

Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is hard on your heart, can increase your weight and definitely cranks up the crankiness meter.

Get back up. Resilience in the face of adversity is a gift that will keep on giving both mentally and physically. We all face adversity but how we manage it is more important that the event itself. 

Withdrawal the Negative and Deposit the Positive.  Express negative emotion and work through it. But keep filling yourself with positive emotions of what is good and beautiful in your life. Every day actively look for the good in your life and put your focus there.

Play and have fun. Strike a balance between work and play. Work pays the bills, but it’s so important to take time out for relaxation, socializing and having fun. Laughter is great for your emotional health.  

Exercise. Numerous studies show that exercise improves the overall mood and increases endorphins. When you work out your body releases chemicals called endorphins that interact with receptors in your brain and trigger a positive feeling in the body, reduces stress and the perception of pain, similar to the affect of morphine. 

Total health depends on a healthy mind and body. Take time to nurture both.