We have known that cognitive bias (where we live, if we are a man or woman, our cultural and religious leanings etc.) colors how we interact with the world since Plato, but scientists are now continuously finding that emotions may have more to do with our physical health than anything else.
How Thoughts, Emotional Health Affects Physical Health
Did you know, for example, that the heart speeds up without any physical activity when we are stressed out? This can lead to heart attack and a higher overall resting heart rate, which could lead to earlier death.
Furthermore, it isn’t just the foods you eat that can lead to elevated levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol. If you have a positive, upbeat outlook, you will more than likely experience lowered cholesterol levels and better heart health.
If you are depressed, is it the world outside of you causing your depression, or the thoughts you most consistently think? The pharmaceutical companies, who bring you anti-depressant drugs like Paxil and Prozac, actually cause an imbalance in natural happy-hormones your brain makes to keep you feeling fine.
They want you to keep buying those drugs, but you be surprised to figure out that these pharmaceutical solutions often lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior on their own. It’s actually the way you think that is the true factor in how you emotionally feel, and subsequently how healthy you feel.
It turns out that emotions like jealousy, rage, anger, fear, criticalness, mistrust, revenge, etc. are very bad for your health. Reducing negative self-talk can actually lower your stress, and stress has been linked to innumerable forms of disease. Stress causes everything from cancer, to AIDS/HIV, auto-immune disorders, cardiovascular disease and depression, just to name a few.
It doesn’t mean that just because we experience a traumatic event, that we can’t experience the emotions that go along with that, but it does mean that if we have a positive outlook, we are more likely to go back to a base-line reading of a healthy person rather than ruminating on fear, anger, sadness, etc.
Dr. Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty Professor of Psychology at Carnegie Mellon, says, “The majority of people confronted with even traumatic events remain disease-free. Stress increases your risk of developing disease, but it doesn’t mean that just because you are exposed to stressful events, you are going to get sick.”
The truth is though, that the less we worry, the healthier we will be.