Over the course of your life, you’ve likely felt the physical effects of an emotional event. Perhaps it was the way you felt sick to your stomach over your first heartbreak or the nervous tingle of taking an important test. Feeling anxious and upset can cause you to fail to take proper care of yourself. You may not feel like eating, exercising or even going about your daily routine.
The mind and the body are intertwined and the health of one affects the health of the other. It’s not uncommon for the body to respond to a poor mental state by exhibiting signs of stress. For instance, people who are experiencing a highly emotional life event, like a death in the family, divorce or major move, may see the effects of this change manifest in a physical way. High blood pressure, stomach ulcers and other health warnings may be a sign that your emotional health is suffering.
Here are a few ways that the body exhibits physical signs of stress:
- Heart Disease – Stress causes your blood pressure to rise and long-term stress can have serious repercussions on your heart. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots.
- Difficulty Sleeping – Insomnia often accompanies stressful times and failing to get enough sleep leads to a slew of other health problems. Not only does it weaken your immune system but lack of sleep also affects your mental health, creating a vicious cycle of poor emotional and physical health.
- Digestive Issues – Indigestion, heartburn, constipation and diarrhea are all ways that your body physically demonstrates signs of emotional stress. Since your body is focused on processing other issues, it becomes less productive at digesting.
- Immune System – The body’s immune system is at risk of infections during times of emotional stress.
Since doctors can’t diagnose feelings, you have to be honest and share your emotional well-being with your healthcare provider in order to get the proper help. Doctors can see the physical side effects of stress but without knowing your emotional state, they may be at a loss for what caused them or how to treat them. If your employer offers a health risk assessment, be sure to capture your stress level, and share your thoughts and feelings with your doctor and, once they rule out any other possible cause for your physical maladies, they can focus on treating your mental state.
How to Improve Your Physical Wellness
- If you notice that your physical wellness seems to be suffering, there are several things you should do to turn it around. By improving your health, your psychological wellness will likely follow suit.
- Eat Better – Skip the drive thru and processed food aisles at the grocery store and eat fresh foods, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Drink More Water – Instead of drinking sugary sodas or alcohol, which contain excess calories and can contribute to bad moods, simply drink water. Staying hydrated can improve your concentration and make you less irritable.
- Avoid Drugs and Alcohol – Some people may abuse alcohol, tobacco and other drugs as a means to cope with a stressful period but these are just temporary fixes that typically cause more harm than good.
- Exercise More – Working out releases endorphins, which automatically boost your mood. Even something as simple as a walk can make you feel better. Keep an eye on your exercise by using a fitness tracker to monitor your daily activity and encourage you to get up and move more often.
- Get Enough Sleep – A lack of sleep can negatively impact your mood, health and productivity at work. Make sure that you’re getting at least seven hours each night to be at the top of your game.
How to Improve Your Psychological Wellness
- Sometimes your psychological wellness may be dragging down your physical wellness. Improve your mental state and you’ll be more likely to take better care of your body too.
- Focus On Being Positive – Instead of dwelling on your failures, focus on what you did right. Be your biggest cheerleader and make yourself feel better. No one is perfect and you’ll be much happier if you highlight your successes rather than beat yourself up over your mistakes.
- Be Social – Spending quality time with friends and family can do wonders to boost your spirit. Laughing and having a good time with the people you care about can be a great way to temporarily escape and feel better.
- Take “Me” Time – Recharge your mental batteries by spending downtime alone occasionally. Everyone needs a break sometimes and finding an activity to do solo, whether it’s catching up on Netflix or reading a book, can help to improve your mood.
- Take a Break From Technology – Being constantly on call can be exhausting. Step away from the phone and computer to give your mind a break. Not every message needs an instant response.
- Make Exciting Plans – Give yourself something to look forward to and it will make the day-to-day necessities that much easier to get through.
Your Physical Wellness
Create a balance between your psychological and physical health to lead a happy and healthy life. If you notice that one of the two seems to be struggling, be sure to speak with your health care provider to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.