How Negative Emotions Harm The Body
We all want to feel happy 100% of the time. We seek pleasure and avoid pain like it’s our full-time job.
But we all know the truth. Each and every one of us experiences negative emotions.
I mean, hard things happen, right?
- A loved one dies
- You lose your job
- Money gets tight
- Your marriage ends
- A natural disaster harms your home
- You have a strained relationship with a child
Even good things can cause stress. You may have worked so hard for the job promotion, and you are so glad you have it. But adjusting to the new demands takes its toll. Or maybe you cannot wait to marry your beloved partner, but all that wedding planning is making you pull your hair out.
You are sad. You are frustrated. You are worried. You are downright furious. You are depressed. You are vengeful. You are so anxious. You are fearful. You are lonely.
In those moments of negative emotions, your mind is not the only thing that’s suffering. Your body is too. There is a mind/body connection that makes what you are mentally feeling transform how you physically feel.
We are going to examine some of the many ways negative emotions harm your body. But I’m not going to leave you on the depressing news. We are also going to learn about what you can do about it.
7 Ways Negative Emotions Can Harm Your Body
Below you will find seven common ways the negative emotions you feel can actually harm your body. Of course, this is not a complete list. Stress, anger, sadness, despair, etc. can do countless things to a body.
But this should give you a good idea about how important it is to learn how to deal with and cope with negative emotions – for the sake of your health.
When do you sleep the best? When you are worried about a big presentation or when you have had a relaxing day? When you just had a big fight with your spouse or when you had a romantic evening with your spouse?
Our emotions make or break our sleeping patterns.
And then we come to a really big problem: a lack of sleep can often create or exacerbate negative emotions. Then those negative emotions make it harder to sleep. It’s an evil cycle.
2. Weight Changes
When we feel too many uncomfortable emotions, many of us do one of two things: we either overeat or stop eating. Neither is a good thing.
On top of this, negative emotions can actually make it harder to lose weight or gain weight (depending on what you need) even if you are eating and exercising correctly.
Then, of course, gaining too much weight or losing too much weight have their own long lists of health problems too.
3. Digestive Issues
Remember when you were a kid and you’d get a stomachache right before a big test day at school? You probably weren’t faking it.
Stress can actually inflame your gastrointestinal system. And that inflammation can lead to infection, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
If you already have a digestive issue like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, you are probably quite aware how stress can aggravate your condition.
4. Headaches and other Pain
Often when people talk about negative emotions, they describe them as “painful.” That can often be a literal description, actually. Here are just a few examples:
- People who have headaches often say they also have anger, depression, anxiety, and/or stress in their lives.
- Studies have shown that managing stress can help manage frequent headaches
- Other studies have shown that negative moods or emptions can either lead to pain or exacerbate existing pain
- Loneliness has been connected to chronic physical pain
5. Sex/Libido Problems
And let’s not forget about sexual health either.
We often talk about “turn ons” – things that increase your libido and make you interested in sex. But we don’t often realize how many things can be “turn offs” (other than cheesy pickup lines). Many times, our biggest turn offs are negative emotions.
Stress can also lead to functional sexual problems like erectile dysfunction too.
6. High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease
If you haven’t been convinced yet just how important it is to deal with negative emotions, let me take you a step further. They can actually harm your heart (brings a whole new meaning to feeling “heartbroken.”)
- High stress events have been known to lead to high blood pressure.
- Frequent high levels of anger can lead to cardiovascular disease
- Feelings of loneliness, depression, and isolation have been shown to increase the odds of heart disease
- Anger and anxiety can even potentially lead to a heart attack
7. Weakened Immune System
Negative emotions make you sick.
Dr. Cynthia Thaik told the Huffington Post “one five-minute episode of anger is so stressful that it can impair your immune system for more than six hours.”
And ongoing stress makes us more likely to develop sicknesses and diseases. In fact, Psychology Today says it’s even possible that up to 90% of illness can be boiled down to stress.
6 Ways To Improve Emotional Health
We’ve seen what these negative emotions can do to the body, so let’s see what we can do about the negative emotions.
Of course we will never banish negative emotions completely. We are human beings, and stress, sadness, worry, anger, and even rage are going to pop up from time to time.
But we can absolutely take steps to control these emotions, learn how to cope better, and to reduce their effect on our bodies.
1. Talk To a Professional
This should be everybody’s first step: make an appointment with a licensed therapist.
Talk therapy is vital to helping work through the issues that are currently giving you these negative emotions. Plus, it can teach you coping skills to make the next hard times less aggressive to your mind and your body.
You may also need to visit a doctor or psychiatrist for medical help. Though it is always best to learn how to manage without prescriptions, sometimes they are exactly what’s needed.
Exercise is the key to mental health. Regular, moderate exercise:
- Reduces stress
- Stabilize mood
- Increase energy
- Fight depression
- Aid in anger management
- Relieve sadness
But here’s the catch 22: when you are dealing with things like stress, depression, anger, etc. you often do not want to exercise. This takes some massive motivation. But you must remind yourself just how much moving your body will make you feel better.
The best idea is to find types of exercise that you like that also help with the negative emotions you are really dealing with.
- If you are really stressed, try yoga
- If you are really angry, try kickboxing
- If you are really sad, try gardening or dancing
3. Take Natural Supplements
There are many different all-natural herbs, vitamins, and minerals that can you’re your mental health. Ashwaghanda is one of my favorites for dealing with heightened emotions like anxiety.
Another awesome choice is an all-natural sleep aid. These can help calm you enough for a restful night’s sleep without grogginess or dependency issues. When you allow yourself to sleep well, you are often in a better spot to deal with the negative emotions in your life. Great ingredients include:
- Chamomile flower extract
- Passion flower extract
4. Try Calming Essential Oils
Diffusing relaxing essential oils in the places where you experience the most negative emotions is really helpful.
Maybe you know that your drive home is a time where you build up stress and anger. You’ve just had a hard day at work, and you’re about to be stuck in traffic. Diffuse your calming essential oils in a car diffuser or make a fabric spray.
Or maybe you need to buy a diffuser to use in your room as you go to bed at night.
My favorite sleep essential oils are:
No matter which negative emotion you are dealing with, meditation can help. And it’s not just a bunch of hype.
Studies have shown that meditation can actually change your brain and improve emotional regulation, compassion, empathy, perspective taking, anxiety, fear, stress, etc.
Some experts will tell you that you only need 5 minutes a day. Others will suggest upwards of 40 minutes a day or even an hour. The trick is to find what works for you. Start small and then expand.
Not sure how to begin? Try the Headspace app. Or follow along with a YouTube video. Here is one of my favorites, a guided meditation for inner strength:
6. Deal With Your Stressors
Not all negative emotions can be directly led to something you can fix easily. But some really can. Here are a few examples:
- Toxic relationships: If you are in a romantic relationship, familial relationship, friendship, or work relationship with anybody who is harming you, abusing you, or causing these negative emotions you either need to find help (through things like couples/family counseling) or cut off that relationship
- Debt: Money is one of the main stressors in most people’s life. If you are feeling bogged down by debt, it’s time to take action. Take a second job for a season. Sell things you don’t need. Create a budget. Talk to a financial advisor about wise options.
Leaving things (like examples above) alone to fester will only continue to bring harm to your mind – and harm to your body.
As you can start crossing each issue off your list – or at least make it less of a big issue – you can start to find mind and body healing.
Improve Your Health By Improving Your Emotions
Like I have said many times throughout this article: you will never get to the point where you don’t experience negative emotions. But you can get to the point where you know how to control them, so they don’t control you and your overall health.
You have seen how truly detrimental these difficult emotions can be to your health and you’ve also seen how there are some simple steps you can take to make sure that doesn’t happen.
All it takes is a little motivation and a decision that you want to improve your life and your health. Your body and your mind are worth fighting for.
Read Next: 5 Simple Ways to Deal With Stress