3 Deadly Emotions: The Mind Body Connection That Can Kill You
We’ve all heard the famous phrase: “You are what you eat,” which is a valid statement, but I wish to go a step further and say that “You are what you think.” Every single thought that you think invokes an emotion, thus leading to a physiological response in your body. Neuropeptides act as a communication link between our thoughts and what we experience in the cells of our bodies. They are comparable to keys that fit into tiny keyholes in every cell in your body. In this way, your brain communicates with your immune cells. Of course, the body responds differently depending on which emotion you are experiencing.
The following three emotions are actually capable of killing you:
“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” -Unknown
Anger can be devastating to your physical health. When we experience anger, adrenaline and norepinephrine flood the bloodstream. This causes blood vessels to constrict, which causes a rise in blood pressure, increasing the heart rate. Cortisol levels are increased, which can cause an increase in cholesterol—all creating a predisposition to heart disease and increasing the risk of cancer. So there you have it, anger truly is poison.
“Worry is a down payment on a problem you may never have.” -Joyce Meyer
We all experience a certain level of anxiety when speaking before an audience or, perhaps, before the big game. But anxiety can be a very powerful emotion when we surrender to our fear and withdraw from certain situations. The physiological response of anxiety is somewhat similar to that of anger, and in fact, the two emotions tend to go hand in hand. Anxiety can be a truly debilitating emotion that can lead to a number of health issues including, but not limited to: panic attacks, arrhythmia, mitral valve prolapse, and ultimately heart disease.
“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.” -Khalil Gibran
As with anger and anxiety, it is normal to experience sadness when something occurs that causes us to feel that way. But when sadness lingers and there is no easily identifiable cause, it could indicate that something more is going on. The subject of clinical depression can be a bit complex. It’s sort of a ‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’ kind of thing…
‘Am I depressed because I am sick, or am I sick because I am depressed?’
Depression can begin with our thoughts or it can be the result of an underlying physical condition. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter most commonly associated with depression. When serotonin levels are low a person feels sad or depressed. People who suffer from depression tend to have poor nutrition, lack physical activity, and may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, all of which can place them at a higher risk of developing most types of disease.
So what can you do about it?
“Emotion is energy in motion.” -Peter McWilliams
All of these emotions are manifestations of our thoughts. Everything originates as thought. We may not be able to control everything that happens to us, but the good news is….
we can control our thoughts.
You can consciously choose how you respond to a particular situation. By changing your response, you actually change the chemistry of your brain, i.e. you can retrain your brain. This concept is the foundation of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and has proven to be very effective in treating anxiety, depression, and managing anger. However, there are situations in which medication is necessary. In these cases, CBT can also be implemented in order to achieve better results and decrease dependency on medication.
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Featured Image Credit: Aurélien Glabas | Flickr