"Health is linked to emotional responsiveness in the face of changing life circumstances and social interactions. The word "e-motion" tells it all - we want to keep our feelings and energy in motion, rather than locking them in our tissues."
- Sat Dharam Kaur
What are Emotions?
Emotions are a big part of our daily lives. Emotions are defined as a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. It is an instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge. Whether we are happy, sad, angry, or frustrated, we base many of our decisions on the emotions we feel at that moment. According to Hockenbury & Hockenbury (2007), “an emotion is a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological experience, and a behavioral or expressive response.”
So what exactly are these three distinct components that are discussed. The subjective experience is how we react to emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, or fear. Researchers believe that these emotions are subjective because they are unique to each individual. We each deal with our emotions in many different ways. For example, anger, in one person can simply be shown as minor irritation, whereas in other people, it can mean relentless rage. The physiological experience is what we physically feel in our bodies in relation to the emotions we feel. Many people feel there hear racing when they feel scared or anxious or when we feel fatigued when we are sad. We each feel different physiological responses due to the emotions we are experiencing, which is why it is important to face them head on. Lastly, the behavioral or expressive response is how we act upon the emotions we are experiencing. We tend to see this in people’s actions and body language.
What is Emotional Toxicity?
Toxic emotions are emotions, such as anger or stress that have an adverse effect on a person’s mental and possibly physical health. These emotions can be built up and stored in our mind slowly manifesting like poison. This can lead to serious symptoms and/or health problems. Take a second to think about a time when someone treating you in a mean or unfriendly way. As you think of this unpleasant moment, you begin to experience certain emotions related to the incident, whether it be a little frustration or anger. These feelings are toxic emotions.
Toxic emotions can be short-term or long-term and depending on how we react to certain events, we deal with these emotions in different ways. They develop slowly sometimes, but may in turn have long-term effects on our body. It is important to clear up these issues or to deal with them somehow to prevent the poison from leaking into the rest of the body.
The Impact of our Emotions!
If emotional stress is left to long without intervention, it can become “toxic”. This messes up the natural homeostatic health and balance of the body and mind. Research proves that our mental outlook and emotions impact our body’s physiological processes. So, in other words, what does this look like? We start experiencing a variety of symptoms from the emotions that we hold in, especially anger, stress, frustration, or even sadness. These can include changes in our sleep cycle, inability to relax, or lack of concentration and focus. These emotions can also begin to affect our relationships and create distance and isolation.
Most people don’t realize that our emotions, especially when we bottle the up inside can have a real impact on our health. It is vital that we get to the root cause of our emotions, especially when we are angry, sad, or stressed. Comparable to a suppurating splinter in a finger, if left there long enough, it can cause all kinds of havoc in the body. Emotional toxicity is the least talked about in the general health conversation, and yet as we see in daily practice, one of the most vital. No physical health can be totally restored, until emotional health is also in balance. The wonderful thing about Naturopathic medicine is that it draws on the body AS A WHOLE, to come into balance. An inability to grieve the death of a loved one, and to move through the grief process, is JUST as vital a situation to treat as any major physical the person may present. Mental and emotional health is at the top of the list to restore proper functioning of the entire body because often times this is the source of many of the physiological symptoms people feel.
Emotions and Toxic Relationships
We are all surrounded by a variety of different relationships. These include with our families, friends, and significant others. We often don't realize that some of our relationships are toxic and being with or around a toxic person can be emotionally draining. Unhealthy relationships create not only psychological issues, but can also cause physiological problems as well.
There are so many toxic behaviors that we may experience in the relationships that we have. Whether we are around someone is who is passive-aggressive, mean and abusive, constantly negative, or puts you down. These can cause harm to us, both emotionally and physically, and can lead to serious health problems.
It is important to get out of these toxic relationships and to surround yourself with positive, healthy relationships. Changing the people you surround yourself with can improve your health and prevent you from becoming numb and disconnected and ill.
Our homeopathic doctor, Fi Connors, discusses emotions and toxic relationships in her book, When Love is a Drug. Her book talks about how to stop chasing love and find the love you want. You can find her book on Itunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/when-love-is-a-drug/id937431091?mt=11 or like her page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/When-Love-is-a-Drug-Fi-Connors-686269778134542/
How to Deal with Emotions?
We all know that stress can wreak havoc on our body, but what we forget is how we can curb the effects and emotions when we pay attention to our breath. Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is going on in our internal world and making the effort to be present with it. When anxiety shows up, our breath tends to be shallow and mainly in our chest and emotions tend to amp up and leave us feeling scattered and powerless. It's not by chance, our emotions are held in the heart in the center of the lungs. If we use only half of the respiratory system, we will find ourselves hanging out in the "fight or flight response" more than we would like. The good news is that we don't have to set up camp in this place, we can change our breathing patterns and our response to emotional stress by simply breathing into the abdomen. Employ diaphragmatic breathing to fire up the stress relief hormone serotonin and endorphins and the nervous system will quickly campaign a state of relaxation. Abdominal breathing has been used for centuries in mindful practices such as yoga and meditation to help students drop out of over thinking and enter a state of being centered and grounded. Don't wait until the next time you are stressed to give the technique below a whirl, tonight before you fall asleep, set your timer for five minutes and allow yourself to breathe and simply relax.
1.Find a place to sit down comfortably, preferably a place that you won't be disturbed for five minutes.
2. Set five minutes on your timer.
3. Place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest. You may put a pillow underneath each arm to offer support.
4. If comfortable close the eyes, if not, find something to visually focus on.
5. Slowly breathe in through the nose and out of the mouth. Allow the natural space in between your jaw to be open and let the muscles of the face relax.
6. Breathe deeply into the belly and feel your hand rise and fall with each breath.
7. Pay attention to the softening taking place throughout each part of the body beginning with the muscles around the ears, neck. shoulders, hands, abdomen, thighs, calves, to the bottom of the feet.
8. When the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath.
9. When the timer goes off and you have opened your eyes take four more breaths before getting up.
Mary Kathryn LeMaster is a Yoga, Breath, and Meditation Teacher who specializes in modern mindful anti-stress techniques. To work with her, visit her website www.breathebig.com and reach out for more unique ways on how to find a fuller breath.
There are many other ways to deal with emotions and we, as individuals, need to find what works best for us. Some of these may include talking it out with someone, whether it is with a doctor, family, or a friend. If you are religious or spiritual, it may be talking with God or a higher power in which you may believe in. Other ways to deal with emotions are through exercise or some type of physical activity. This can include something as simple as daily meditation or walking outdoors or you can go a little more intense and do sports, such as hiking or kickboxing. It also good to do some aromatherapy, with essential oils like lavender, at home or in a relaxing environment.
What products do we recommend?
It is important to keep you body in balance and emotions can have a real impact causing harm to our body rather than healing. There are several products that we recommend to help restore any imbalances, especially when it directly links with our emotions. These products are:
1. 5-HTP 100mg by Thorne Research: This product enhances serotonin production. Our serotonin levels are associated with appetite, temperature, the regulation of sleep, mood, aggression, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. 5-HTP has been shown to have a beneficial impact on carbohydrate craving, mood, discomfort associated with fatigue, and sleep.
2. Kavinace by Neuroscience: This is a calming product and it provides GABA support to help manage anxiousness, stress, and promote healthy sleep.
3. Eskimo-3 by Integrative Therapeutics: Fish oil or more specifically Omega-3 fatty acids are used to help with mood and depression
4. Holy Basil Leaf by Gaia Herbs: Holy basil supports a healthy response to stress, promotes feelings of emotional well-being, and supports a healthy inflammatory response. Studies have shown that Holy Basil has significant effect in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
No matter what method is chosen to deal with emotions, it is vital that these emotions are faced head on and dealt with before they can serious health problems. We all go through emotions every day and sometimes we go through the tough ones, but there is always a great way to help get through them and we can help you find it.