Are Negative Emotions Making You Physically Sick? Here’s What You Need to Know

Negative emotions may be making you sicker than you think—in fact, the way we think may make us more susceptible to minor illnesses like the common cold, but also chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. Not only that, but negative thoughts can completely drain us emotionally, leading to burnout, fatigue, and low productivity. This is something that not only do we not have time for but also something that can really impact the overall quality of our life. 

Let’s dive into exactly why and how negative emotions make you sick, and some simple action steps you can take to prevent negative emotions from impacting your overall health. 


What Are Negative Emotions? 


First things first, let’s break down what negative emotions actually are. They’re things that all of us feel at some point or another. Things like frustration, anger, and fear are all negative emotions that can cause our stress levels to skyrocket.


And, while all of these feelings can be normal, it’s when we deal with them in excess that they can become unproductive and even harmful. Chronic negative emotions can sabotage our physical and emotional health. 


Here’s How Negative Emotions Make You Sick 


Plain and simple, negative emotions cause stress on the body. Things like anger, anxiety, guilt, resentment, these are all things that can add a heavy burden to both your mental and physical health. 


When not dealt with, these negative emotions can trigger chronic stress in the body. With chronic stress comes chronic inflammation, and with chronic inflammation comes an increased risk of chronic disease. 


Too much stress can also make you more susceptible to getting sick, and stress suppresses the immune system. A study found that psychological stress actually impacts how your body regulates your inflammatory response, which can also increase your risk of getting sick. What’s worse is that with prolonged stress (including emotional stress), your risk of heart disease and cancer goes up. 


You may also start to feel physically sick when dealing with negative emotions. Think about the last time you were really anxious about something—did you have a nervous stomach or completely lose your appetite? This is how your body responded to your emotions. 


For some, they may experience stomach issues like an ulcer or nausea, while others may notice a big spike in blood pressure with negative emotions


How to Positively Navigate Negative Emotions


So, now that you know what negative emotions are and how too many of these emotions can actually make you sick, what can you do about it? Here are three ways you can handle these emotions, prevent them from leading to chronic stress, and turn them into emotions that can be positive and productive. 


#1 Don’t Deny Them:

First, it’s very important not to deny these negative emotions. The last thing you want to do is sweep your anger or frustration under the rug, only for those feelings to bubble over and explode down the road. Instead, acknowledge those feelings without judgment (this is practicing mindfulness!) Try to get a better understanding as to why you are feeling these emotions in the first place. Embracing these feelings is much healthier than ignoring them! 


#2 Use Your Negative Emotions to Help Guide You:

Instead of looking at negative emotions as all bad, think about them as guiding you towards the direction you need to go. These emotions may be telling you something about a particular situation in your life, and something that you may need to change. Tune into them, listen to them, and make the necessary changes. These emotions are here telling you something for a reason. It’s our job to listen and take action. 


#3 Sweat it Out:

When you’re feeling really overwhelmed, and like your negative emotions are getting the best of you, try exercising. Even if it’s just a light walk or a quick yoga practice, it can really do wonders for your mind and your body. Studies have shown that regular exercise can help combat stress, while also reducing fatigue, both of which often come with negative emotions. 


The Mind-Body Connection Matters in a Big Way 


The mind-body connection is something that’s not talked about nearly enough. While we commonly hear about inflammation making us sick, a big cause of inflammation happens to be negative emotions and psychological stress. 


When we look at the root of what’s causing our bodies to be inflammation, and what’s making us more susceptible to becoming sick, the answer may lie more within our emotions than what we think. 


Start by taking some actionable steps to reduce your negative emotions, and know that it’s not all or nothing! Even just small steps in the direction of turning negative emotions into more positive thinking can do wonders for your physical and your mental wellbeing. 


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