The phrase ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’ is not just a saying; it’s something that most health experts subscribe to. Because it’s a well known fact that troubles of the mind can often cause us to contract an illness or fall prey to aches and pains.
“Your body responds to the way you think, feel and act. This is often called the mind-body connection. When you are stressed, anxious or upset, your body tries to tell you that something isn’t right,” explains Dr Rachna K Singh, lifestyle management expert at Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon.
“While most of us are able to control our emotions, there are some who overreact to situations and people by crying, getting angry or sad, worried, anxious or irritable. Such people are prone to several ailments that can be directly related to their emotional well-being.”
Mind over matters
For instance, says Dr Monica Mahajan, senior consultant, internal medicine, at Max Healthcare, Delhi, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer might develop after a particularly stressful event, such as the death of a loved one.
Poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system, making you more likely to catch colds and contract infections during emotionally difficult times. Besides this, there are several physical ailments that can be directly linked to your emotional state.
For instance, lack of appetite, disturbance in sleep patterns, acidity, heartburn, palpitations and indigestion can all be easily related to your own state of mind,” explains Mahajan.
In fact, emotions not only play havoc with our physical well-being, they also affect our thought processes and our overall ability to make decisions. And, Dr Singh adds, “When there are too many negative emotions, it can easily lead to depression too.”
Also, as Dr S Sudersanan, senior consultant, department of psychiatry, B L Kapur Hospital, says, “When you are feeling stressed, anxious or upset, you may not take care of your health as well as you should. You may not feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or taking the medicine that your doctor prescribes. Abuse of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs may also be a sign of poor emotional health.”
If you become aware that the state of your emotions is damaging your physical health, take charge. Damage control is not difficult, provided you are able to identify the fact that you are overreacting and that you need to have control over your feelings. “We refer to a solution termed ABC,” says Dr Singh.
“A is for awareness about the problem, either through self-introspection or having somebody else point it out for you. B is for balancing between right and wrong and C is for control over your reactions.”
Adds Dr Sudersanan, “Other simple measures include eating a balanced diet and special emphasis on regular timings for food and sleep. Say no to overindulgence of any kind – both in terms of food or alcohol. Next, talk about your problems with friends and family, and look for happiness in things you enjoy, such as dancing, watching a movie, shopping or painting. Take up some physical activity on a regular basis and learn to relax – either through deep breathing or meditation.”
However, there may be cases where being over-emotional hampers your work as well as your relationships and you may need professional help.
“Being over-emotional is not a disorder, it’s a temperamental issue,” explains Dr Singh. “But because counsellors are impartial and unbiased, it helps to get advice from them. Moreover, a counsellor can guide over-emotional people to introspect and be aware about their problem and to realise their positive and negative emotions.”
You can also maintain a thought diary in which every incident where you overreacted should be noted. This will help bring about awareness.