Mind/Body Connection: How Emotions Can Impact Health

Did you know that your emotional health can impact your physical health? 

We generally think of our mind and body as two separate entities. However, when considering emotional and physical health, the two should not be thought of as separate. 

Having good emotional health is a fundamental aspect of fostering resilience, self-awareness, and overall contentment. Working on our emotional health is just as important as taking care of our physical well-being, which is why it is important to understand the difference between Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Dysregulation. 

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the process in which you are aware of your emotions and in touch with what you are feeling and how you are internally ‘reacting’ to something. For example, My body is feeling anxious before today’s exam, but I know if I breathe and move my body it will tell my body I’m safe, so I can focus. Keep present and focus on my task.

Emotional dysregulation (ED) is being unaware/unconscious when you are reacting to these feelings and emotions. For example, I’m so worried about today’s exam, which means I’m not ready for it. I’m panicking! 

Research shows there is a strong relationship with Emotional Dysregulation (ED) and a plethora of physical and mental health conditions such as obesity, anxiety, alcoholism, depression, and chronic disease. Clinically significant ED is viewed as a problem that starts in childhood and is continues during adolescence and adulthood.

It is the absence of:

  • Understanding and awareness of emotions
  • Acceptance of emotions
  • The ability to control impulsive behaviour when upset
  • The ability to apply regulation strategies to meet goals and demands

Emotional Dysregulation can be triggered in early childhood when raised in a household with little to no understanding of emotional health, communication of emotions, and conscious regulation techniques when experiencing distress. It is important to have empathy towards those who raised us, and understand that they were also raised in a similar environment and were doing their best as parents. By not reacting to these thoughts of your childhood, you are practicing Emotional Intelligence (EI). You can view them through a lens of empathy and understanding, and allow space for the feelings and emotions that arise from those thoughts.

How your emotional health can impact pain

Pain is a protective mechanism your body and mind use to protect you from harm. We know that it is heavily influenced by biopyschosocial influences such as mental wellness, sleep, and relationships. When you are aware that your mental wellness is influenced by your feelings and emotions it can be a valuable tool in recovery to label and regulate emotions experienced when going through pain. 

For example – 

Mark has lower back pain and he is really sad about it, so let’s go further down the rabbit hole to help him label and regulate.

Mark is currently feeling sad, which has made him feel very vulnerable as he has not experienced the socially disabling effects of pain before. He identifies as a “big strong dude” and this pain has made him feel incredibly fragile. 

The power of labelling these emotions assists in their regulation as Mark is now able to do the following:

  • Self-reflection in his diary focusing on his strength and gratitude
  • Seeking advice and training from an Exercise Physiologist who will support and provide a strength-based program to recovery
  • Talking with others about his emotions and using breathing exercises when he feels his body and mind need to be calmed
  • Knowing it’s OK to feel sad, and that all feelings have a start-middle-end. Don’t be scared to feel.

So start to learn more about your emotional health, print off this Emotion Wheel and keep at home so you can learn how you are reacting to emotions. 

Want to learn more about how our Exercise Physiologists can provide support? Click here to book in your initial consult today!

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