Welcome to Making Sense, this is our 20th episode and blog!
I also wanted to share with you a book club that we have started at a local secondary school. In episode 18 of Making Sense, Jess, who is a teacher, was our guest and in her school we had the pleasure of starting a book club with a group of sixth formers. I started them off with ‘A Path Travelled’ and I will keep checking in with them as they read the book together and go on a journey of self discovery. I never dreamt that my book could and would be a companion for many people, especially young people.
In this blog, the focus will be on physical pain and how this affects our emotional and mental pain. On the radio, we had a special guest, Becky Corran from Pelvic Health Physio, I definitely recommend you have a listen to that episode.
It is important to remember that poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system. Also, when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or upset, you may not take care of your health as well as you should. Research has found a link between an upbeat mental state and improved health, including lower blood pressure, reduced risk for heart disease, healthier weight, better blood sugar levels, and longer life.
Poorly-managed negative emotions are not good for your health. Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which upsets the body’s hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system.
Your thoughts and emotions can affect your health. Emotions that are freely experienced and expressed without judgement or attachment tend to flow fluidly without impacting our health. On the other hand, repressed emotions (especially fearful or negative ones) can zap mental energy, negatively affect the body, and lead to health problems. Poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system. This makes you more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times. Also, when you are feeling stressed, anxious, or upset, you may not take care of your health as well as you should.
It is often the case that people don’t pause to look at how they were feeling emotionally or mentally when they notice that they have some physical symptoms. It’s important to recognise our thoughts and emotions and be aware of the effect they have—not only on each other, but also on our bodies, behaviour, and relationships. Negative attitudes and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness can create chronic stress, which upsets the body’s hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness, and damages the immune system. Chronic stress can actually decrease our lifespan.
Because we are wired to defend against threat and loss in life, we tend to prioritise bad over good. While this is a tidy survival mechanism for someone who needs to stay hyper vigilant in a dangerous environment, the truth is that for most of us, this “negativity bias” is counter-productive. Our “negativity bias” means that we spend too much time ruminating over the minor frustrations we experience—bad traffic or a disagreement with a loved one— and ignore the many chances we have to experience wonder, awe, and gratitude throughout the day. In order to offset this negativity bias and experience a harmonious emotional state, we need to experience three positive emotions for every negative one. These positive emotions literally reverse the physical effects of negativity and build up psychological resources that contribute to a flourishing life. I am always keen to encourage people to stick to easy approaches to making these kinds of changes. When you want to change your negative thoughts, you have to first catch yourself doing it. I say that 80% of making any changes is being aware of what you are thinking or doing first. Another important aspect of managing negative emotions like anger, sadness, fear is the role of forgiveness Forgiveness means fully accepting that a negative event has occurred and relinquishing our negative feelings surrounding the circumstance. Research shows that forgiveness helps us experience better mental, emotional and physical health.
- 70% reported a decrease in their feelings of hurt
- 13% experienced reduced anger
- 27% experienced fewer physical complaints (for example, pain, gastrointestinal upset, dizziness, etc.)
The practice of forgiveness has also been linked to better immune function and a longer lifespan. Other studies have shown that forgiveness has more than just a metaphorical effect on the heart: it can actually lower your blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health as well. And my last tip to help minimise the impact on your well-being is the benefits of gratitude. There is a huge link between joy and gratitude. Acknowledging the good aspects of life and giving thanks have a powerful impact on emotional wellbeing.
Brené Brown, Author and Research says: It’s not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful.