Listening to your body is one of the best ways to lead a healthy lifestyle. Acknowledging how you feel in any given moment should probably be a priority, too, though. Aside from the handful of days when a bad mood sets in the second you roll out of bed, can you honestly say that, at any given moment, you could tell me, without hesitation, exactly how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way? Regardless, it’s not even a question of how you’re feeling emotionally anymore, because according to new research, your mood affects your body in all sorts of ways, mainly in the sense that, if you wake up in the morning feeling like a Negative Nancy, your physical body is bound to pay the price.
Researchers at Penn State recently discovered a link between a negative mindset (think sadness, anger, frustration) and poor health, and guys, this is not OK. For the study, as per Penn State’s official press release, a total of 220 adults were asked to take note of how they were feeling emotionally and physically every day for two weeks. In addition to these self-assessments, the participants were also required to give a blood sample. After reviewing the connections between each person's mental and physical well-being, researchers found that the more negative someone felt, the weaker their immune systems appeared to be in that moment.
Of course, because this study was the first of its kind to link someone's mood with their immune system activity, as per Penn State's press release, more research needs to be done in order to definitively say, one way or another, if your mood actually affects your body to the extent of weakening your immune system. That being said, however, experts in the space have noticed a correlation between the two, but from what I’m understanding, it’s usually when someone is constantly struggling with negative emotions that their body responds in such an extreme, concerning way.
“Negative mood, particularly if severe and persistent, is associated with higher levels of 'stress hormones' such as cortisol and adrenaline,” Dr. Clare Morrison of MedExpress tells Elite Daily over email. This is a natural response of the body, otherwise known as your “fight or flight mode,” which is supposed to take over when you feel threatened. The problem, Morrison says, is that it’s really not great for your health if this is a recurring sensation you're experiencing.
In the short-term, any kind of stress is going to quicken your heart rate and cause your blood pressure to shoot up, Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, tells Elite Daily. Higher levels of inflammation can also be a factor, which, over time, can lead to a weakened immune system, he explains, potentially increasing your chances of cancer, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and more in the long run. It’s a hard pill to swallow, for sure, but it’s also important that you read these words and really internalize them, because tending to your mental health is just as necessary as eating right and exercising for your physical body.
But listen, I totally get it: Sometimes, you’re just in a really bad mood that’s hard to shake. It happens, and that’s just a part of life, but negativity shouldn’t have so much power over you that a thought can turn your entire anatomy upside down. Easier said than done, I know, but luckily, there are ways to work through a bad mood before it becomes so all-encompassing that your physical body is paying the price.
For starters, pharmacist and empowered wellness expert Dr. Lindsey Elmore says you should never underestimate the powers of mindfulness. “You can always find something to be grateful for, no matter how bad things seem,” she tells Elite Daily, and it’s that shift in perspective that can truly go a long way. “There is nothing wrong with negative emotions, especially when you realize that there is always an opposite to that emotion, but for every negative, there is always a positive.”
Practicing mindfulness takes, well, practice, and it doesn’t always come as easily as thinking up a positive and holding onto that happy thought. You might need to think on it for a little while, but taking time to do so can be effective. Mood-logging is also an option, in which you carve a few minutes out of your day to reflect on how you feel in that moment — both mentally and physically — and make the effort to not only acknowledge any emotions that come up, but to honor them, and try to understand them.
Maybe the idea of journaling your mood sounds a little corny, but statistics don't lie. Get this: Between Feb. 2 and May 29, 2018, Fitbit collected and analyzed data from more than 9,000 of its users, which compared people's self-reported mood with their activity levels, resting heart rate, and BMI. Experts from the wearable tech company tell Elite Daily that they found the more you track your movements, the more you tend to move in general, and the better you might feel as a result.
And, BTW, your regular exercise routine doesn't necessarily have to include running. Maybe you're a walker, a yogi, or a Zumba master. Really, anything that piques your interest and allows you to kind of lose yourself in the movements and let go of any negative emotion you're harboring, can act as an amazing stress-reliever.
On top of that, Irina Logman L.Ac., MSTOM, founder of Advanced Holistic Center, tells Elite Daily that proper nutrition and making healthier food choices is essential, too. “There are specific Chinese herbs that are good for treating different moods,” she says, adding that foods such as green, leafy vegetables, meat, and bone broth may have some healing, calming properties, too.
The bottom line is, I'm sure I don't have to tell you the right way to take care of your body. However, I would like to remind you that it's important to regularly check in with yourself. Do some meditation, try to practice body-scanning on a regular basis, and just do your best to be more mindful of where you're at and how you got there. Take care of your mental health, and your physical health will follow suit.