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Can emotions make you sick – Part 1

Can your emotions make you sick – Part 1?

Most Africans believe the spiritual can affect the physical and according to current research and thinking, we may have been ahead of the game. Medical practitioners are beginning to recognize the mind-body-spirit connection and are factoring this into provisions for therapeutic care. Increasingly alternative medicinal practices are being adopted or at least included into regimens of care.

Traditional Chinese medicine has long since recognized the role of emotions in the health of the body and scientific research is now backing up these beliefs. According to the Chinese, anger, grief, fear, worry, shock and even joy are all emotions that can lead to disease if excessive.

Anger is considered the worst emotion of all as unresolved anger can do immense damage to your bodily functions. It also includes resentment, frustration, irritability and rage. It can not only affect the person manifesting the emotion but also the community around said person. A Yale university study showed a strong link between anger and heart disease, including an increased risk for sudden cardiac arrest and death.

Anger and Rage
In moderation, anger can be healthy. When expressed appropriately and resolved it can be positive, protecting the individual from being abused etcetera. However when one allows themselves to let their anger go unchecked and the person becomes enraged for a prolonged period of time, manifesting in physical and/or emotional violence, it can destroy the body over time as well as relationships which are also necessary for a whole healthy life.

Hidden anger
Suppressing anger is not the answer either because when anger is expressed quickly and within reason it can actually help the individual feeling anger to release the emotion, however when it is suppressed and not discharged, it can fester and grow and even transform emotionally into depression.

Chinese medicine asserts that headaches, hypertension and stroke are as a result of unresolved anger issues. And many doctors are now taking a holistic approach to caring for their patients. They address the hypertension by prescribing pharmaceuticals, they instruct the patient to monitor their diet and add exercise to their daily routine, but they also address the patients emotional health by collaborating with health care professionals that work in that area.

How do we curb excessive anger?
1. By practicing active relaxation. When we find ourselves losing control, we should stop and take a deep breath. At this point if we are still angry, we should take a few minutes to monitor our breathing, exhaling and inhaling deeply and focusing on this deep breathing until the intensity of the emotion subsides.
2. If you are in the midst of an argument that continues to escalate, give yourself permission to step away from the situation and collect your emotions. If you are dealing with a partner who doesn’t understand, verbalize your intent to discuss the matter further but inform them that at this moment you need some time to process and control your emotions.
3. Do something physical. Anger is sometimes described as pent up energy, imagine the pictures you have seen of anger represented by a person who has steam coming out of his nose and ears. Doing something physical like running or playing soccer will release that pent up energy and allow you to address the situation rationally.
4. Develop a plan for addressing the situation. A lot of anger comes from a feeling of powerlessness, by developing a plan you regain your sense of power and as such can proceed without losing your temper.

We should all be mindful of our emotions, because it appears they can indeed make you sick.

Watch for Part 2 in the series which will feature the effects of grief and sadness.

About Ekene Onu

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