Most of us have been led to believe, mostly by modern science and by how we have been educated, that our mind and body are two different and separate entities. However, if you study eastern philosophy and oriental modalities of medicine and healing, you will learn the exact opposite. The body and the mind are not two separate entities at all but are actually one cohesive unit that are very closely linked to each other, much like the sides of the same coin. Think of the mind as the invisible reflection of the body, and the body as the visible reflection of the mind. Body and mind are intricately intertwined and related to each other and can affect each other immensely. It’s true! Your emotions can affect your physical health and vice versa, so taking care of your emotions is extremely important, because not only do they affect your mental health, but your physical health as well.
It is actually very easy to see how your emotions influence your body. When you get nervous, you stammer, feel weak in the knees and get sweaty palms. When you are bold and courageous, you walk with your head held high and you walk with your chest out. When you are angry, you clench your teeth and tighten your muscles. When you’re happy, your muscles relax, and you feel a sense of ease in your body. If you’re feeling worried, or unhappy, you would experience real physical symptoms such as insomnia or constipation, and prolonged resentment can lead to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers or arthritis in the knees, or all of them at the same time!
Poor emotional health can seriously and adversely impact your immune system, which would make it harder to shake off infections and make you prone to disease. Moreover, if you are feeling under the weather, you are most likely to be withdrawn from life and less inclined to take part in the things that promote physical wellbeing and health. Feeling emotionally stressed can also encourage us to do things that may give us temporary euphoria but are harmful to our health – reaching for an ice cream, drinking beer / alcohol, smoking marijuana, or doing hard drugs, etc. or an extra glass of wine. So you see, negative emotions can immensely affect our decision-making as well and therefore adversely impact our physical health that way.
Now let us look at the positive physical benefits of our emotions, because there are real and long term positive physical benefits associated with emotional wellbeing.
Have you ever been in love, or at the very least, been infatuated with someone? Remember the person you had a secret crush on when you were in high school? Do you remember how you felt at that time? If you do, you will be aware that those experiences brought on feelings of relaxation, contentment, and inexplicable happiness. However, did you know that being in love with someone actually boosts the growth of new brain cells, which not only enhances cognitive function, but also improves mood, physical wellness and memory as well?
Let us take a look at the act of laughter as well. Scientific research shows that laughing brings about an increase in endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the body to relieve stress and pain, boost mood and help us sleep better. They work similarly to a class of drugs called opioids, which relieve pain and can produce a feeling of euphoria. Endorphins are therefore called ‘happy hormones’. Feelings of happiness can also boost our immune system, lower blood pressure and increase levels of oxytocin, which can help us de-stress, feel relaxed and make the hardships of life easier to cope with.
So how can you care for and improve your emotional health using your body? Simple. Eat a balanced diet, first and foremost. Fuel your body with healthy food so you can have all the necessary minerals, vitamins and elements to live life to the fullest. Avoid smoking completely, don’t drink too much alcohol, don’t do drugs of any kind, and try to exercise regularly. Just doing this will boost your mental focus, mood, and energy levels, improve your emotional health manifold, and make you happier as a person.