We encounter emotional difficulty each and every day of our lives. People often tell us how important it is to be positive, grateful, and successful. Sometimes our brains dwell on what other people think of us and what mistakes we may be making.
Emotions can be intense at times and we have many ways of ignoring or deflecting them to give us a (sometimes false) sense of calmness. Between the boundless forms of social media and other sources of entertainment, various substances to numb our minds, and the persistent distraction of countless screens, there is no shortage of ways to avoid processing our feelings.
When it comes to physical health, your immune system intervenes to heal many illnesses and injuries. But there is no immune system for your emotional issues. Ignoring or repressing your feelings won’t make them disappear. Instead, it builds up internal pressure that often ends up causing problems for you. Your body needs your mind’s help to deal with these emotions before that happens.
How Ignoring Your Feelings Affects Your Health
Refusing to confront and process your emotions puts more stress not only on your mind but on your body as well. This stress can trigger the release of harmful hormones into your body and certain neurotransmitters in the brain, which can have a multitude of negative effects, both physical and psychological.
For instance, cortisol (often referred to as the stress hormone) can have many negative side effects when not properly managed. It can raise blood pressure, increase insulin resistance, and cause inflammation in the body. Chronic stress from suppressed emotions can increase your risk for heart disease, autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, insomnia, and much more.
Failing to confront and process your emotions can also increase your risk of developing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. By ignoring your feelings, you create tension and stress in your mind, creating a cycle of more negative thoughts and worries, making mental health problems worse. But dealing with your emotions and learning to handle stress can help minimize these negative effects.
Listen to Your Feelings
Emotions can tell us a lot about ourselves. You can learn a great deal about what makes you happy, how to improve your life, and what you need to change, by simply paying attention to and dealing with your emotions instead of ignoring them. Just as ignoring physical problems can lead to larger issues that take more energy to heal, so can ignoring your emotional issues.
The first step is learning to listen, which requires mindfulness and focus. When you start listening to what your mind and body are telling you, then you can distinguish between all the different emotions and their many causes. It is also critical to pay attention to patterns in how you feel as well as how your emotions influence your behaviors in order to improve your emotional health.
Ignoring your emotional health is only asking for trouble. Improve your life and regain control today by paying attention to your emotions and how they affect you.