Everyday we ride an emotional roller coaster. We can leave work feeling great because we completed a major project or made a huge sale. The feeling of joy plunges when we become angry because another driver cut us off. Then we reach home and feel so loved when our 2-footed or 4-footed loved ones greet us.

 

The Highs and Lows

 

While riding the emotional roller coaster called life, we often recognize the highs and the lows, but may not think a lot about the physical reaction to these emotions. Like a roller coaster, the physical effects of these emotions can be transient. Our blood pressure increases when we are angry with other drivers. However, it soon returns to normal. In this case, the incident on the roadway results in little or no residual effect on our overall well-being.

 

In some cases, it lasts a bit longer. Stress headaches or muscle strains gained on the ride or that occur as a result of our emotions being jostled about last longer. Perhaps, we feel them for a few hours or a whole day.

 

Linger Affects

 

Sometimes, however, situations can have a lingering effect on us. For example, when we experience strong emotional trauma, such as the loss of a loved one, the emotion can be quite intense and linger with us for a long period of time. Initially, this trauma may or may not have any physical effects on us. Any initial physical effects are likely to be transient – headache, sleeplessness, etc. However, it is the accumulation of the emotion over time that holds the potential to have a greater impact on our health and wellbeing.

 

Underlying negative emotions that linger attack us day in and day out. Often this happens for a long period of time only to be followed by the discovery of a physical aliment. Many times people view this as an independent event and do not connect it to the emotion that they have been harboring. Others have a sudden “Ah ha!” moment and begin to wonder if there is a tie between the their emotion and the manifestation of the physical aliment.

 

Repetitive Emotions

 

Not all physical ailments that manifest from emotion come from traumatic events. People sometimes experience an emotion on a regular basis or hold on to an emotion. If this is a positive emotion, such as love, this is wonderful and very healthy. Unfortunately, it is often anger or another negative emotion. For example, politics, fueled by social media and media outlets, seems to put some people in a constant state of anger. That anger is unhealthy and needs to be released for the person’s own well-being.

 

Changing Our Reactions

 

We can start to change our reactions to negative emotions by being conscious of the connection between our emotions on our physical well-being. Recognition that we no longer need to be at the mercy of these emotions is the first step.

 

The second step is to choose to release our connection to negative emotions. We can begin that process by recognizing that the situation causing these emotions will pass. After all, do we really want to be emotionally invested in something that may physically harm us, This is especially true since the harm often comes after the issue has become less important or is no longer relevant. t

 

Once we make this choice, we can begin to release the emotion. However, releasing the connection to negative emotions is not easy. These negative emotions are the most intense emotions and they linger with us the longest. We also tend to rehash the negative emotions, which reinforces the recall of the situation and has a tendency to intensify the emotions.

 

It is important to see situations that lead to negative emotions for what they are. In some cases, they are traumatic and life changing. However, often we hold onto emotions related to events that aren’t life changing and aren’t really traumatic. We must consciously remind ourselves that it is acceptable and healthy to let go of these negative emotions.

 

Positive Memories Are Healthy

 

Human nature seems to be attuned to looking at the bad. It is a way of survival and seeking answers. Yet, looking for the good in situations or positive memories to replace the bad is very healthy. It isn’t always easy at first; however, it gets easier with practice. In the case of the loss of a loved one, it is far healthier to remember the good times – the laughter, the love – rather than focusing on the loss. By doing so we reinforce the positive emotions and we heal for our future well-being.

 

 

 

 

 

The world is full of stress – driving in heavy traffic on the freeway, working long demanding hours at a job, family demands, dealing with the negativity in the world, etc. Stress seems to comes at us from every angle.  In recent years, researchers have begun evaluating the affect of stress on our bodies.   The results indicate stress may often be a cause or contributor to physical aliments. I would venture to say that eventually research will show that stress has far greater implications on health than medical professionals realize.

 

A connection between stress and nearly every major chronic disease may one day be found. Perhaps, stress will be determined to be the primary cause or trigger for some ailments.  Genetic and environmental factors also play a part, but not everyone who has the same genetic markers or are in a given environment become ill with the same disease.  One reason may be the amount of stress and the manner the person handles stress.

 

Fountain of Youth

 

Therefore, when someone lives to be one hundred years old, we should consider if stress is the key to their longevity. Instead, doctors and researchers often focus on the diet and exercise.  However, we already know that diet and exercise are not the keys to the Fountain of Youth because centenarians have a variety of lifestyles.  Some of them ate super healthy and exercised all their life.  Meanwhile, others drank soda and ate cheeseburgers daily.

 

Similarly, people have a variety of levels of tolerance for stress. Everyone has some level of stress and it seems to be part of what makes people tick.  The amount of stress that makes some people thrive would overwhelm others. So, it is not a matter of a simple measure of stress.  Instead, it is important to understand if the person “felt” stressed.

 

Dealing With Stress

 

The stress in the average American’s life today, however, is excessive.  Some people may thrive at this level, but it is greater than most people’s stress tolerance level. Since stress is correlated to ailments, stress reduction and stress management are important to maintain health.

 

Reducing Stress

 

Stress cannot be completely avoided.  However, we can turn off the news, stop focusing on the drama around us, and change patterns in our lives to limit stress.  The things that need to change to reduce stress in each person’s life depends on the type of things that causes that particular person stress.  These factors vary greatly so each person must make their own decisions with regards to things to eliminate or reduce in their life.  For example, one person may be greatly stress when they watch the news. However, someone else may not be bothered by the news, but may be stressed by driving is rush-hour traffic or dealing with the issues of home ownership.

 

Eliminating or reducing the things that stress us out can greatly improve our quality of life. We will still have stress in our lives, but eliminating and reducing those things that contribute to our stress level will make other stress more tolerable.

 

Stress Management

 

The other aspect to consider is stress management. Some people do not manage stress at all. Matter of fact, they let stress take over their life. In the more extreme cases, people make their own drama from the smallest of incidents to create even more stress for themselves and the people around them.

 

Those who attempt to manage stress do so through a variety of means. It is again, dependent on the person. Hobbies, meditation, prayer, exercise, reading, and socializing are typical activities used to reduce stress.  However, not all stress coping mechanisms are positive. Binge eating, drinking alcohol, smoking, and drug use are also stress coping mechanisms.

 

It is important to understand the connection between what causes you stress and how you react.  You should remove or reduce stress when possible (e.g. if driving stresses you, take the bus/rail or move close to work).  Also, evaluate how you cope with stress and focus on utilizing positive coping strategies to reduce the stress.  Your life may depend on it!