Did you know that your emotions impact your health? During this holiday season people tend to deal with a range of emotions as they travel, spend time with family, buy gifts, plan parties, mourn the loss of loved ones or dreams for the future, and manage their social and spiritual life. As we deal with all of these situations we will inevitably have emotional responses to them. Positive responses like laughing, smiling, happiness, joy, and pleasure increase your sense of mental well-being, increases your immune response and causes a relaxation response (which reduces stress in your body). These emotions improve health, so anytime you are in a difficult situation and you can find the humor or a way to laugh it will break the tension and the stress in your body.
When we are angry, frustrated or stressed our heart pumps faster and our blood pressure increases--these are normal responses. If someone has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, increasing the pressure in your blood vessels increasing the likelihood of a bad outcome or worst case scenario--a stroke or an aneurysm. When someone is under constant stress it lowers their immune system and makes them more likely to get sick. With the weather being colder than usual, the combination of stress and cold could create a huge susceptibility to getting sick. People diagnosed with diabetes can also be adversely affected by stress and frustration; it can cause blood sugar levels to rise. So those diabetics who find their blood sugars higher than normal may have to look at their emotions as the cause, not just the foods they are eating. For those who have been struggling with anxiety or depression, negative emotions compound their condition. I used all of these examples to show you how negative emotions which happen during the holidays can have physical effects on the body that improve or worsen your health.
This year I am asking you to check in on your emotional health as you move through the holidays. Try to maximize the good emotions and reduce the negative ones. How do you minimize the negative ones? The first step is to realize when you feel, tense, frustrated, or stressed.