Anger, sadness or anxiety? How to avoid getting sick

Our emotions have much more impact on our body and our health than we think. Although feeling anger, sadness and anxiety is normal, these feelings can have a direct impact on health if they are repeated over time and if we cannot channel or manage them consciously.

“A few years ago, I was very busy, stressed and family problems were added.

The routine was exhausting: I began to feel anxious and nervous all the time, I had body aches and trouble sleeping. I realized that the discomfort and anguish that my work generated in me had repercussions on my body. I was able to solve it because I became aware of what was wrong with me, and I started therapy. Finally, I decided to change jobs and start my own business. My health problems disappeared and today my body thanks me for that decision ”, Analía, 47, tells her experience in the first person.

To prevent emotions from affecting our health, we must pay attention to what we feel and what are the emotions that frequently overwhelm us.

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The psychologist Maribel Castro explains that diseases have an impact on a subjectified body, that is, that both our biological and emotional predisposition play an important role when it comes to having a certain ailment. “Through our illnesses, the body speaks about what we could not put into words,” she says. However, she considers that there are two important aspects to take into account: first, that it cannot be dismissed that the sick body hurts and needs medical diagnosis and cure, “it is not about not consulting a specialist”, she clarifies.

Secondly, he warns that there is no universal meaning about what afflicts us, the meaning is unique and subjective. “This means that, if for someone a sore throat means ‘not being able to say something important for fear,’ for another person it can mean ‘the anguish of having had a bad drink,'” she says.

For Gabriel Lapman, cardiologist, nephrologist, specialist in arterial hypertension, what we feel and many times do not say, affects us because it implies that feelings remain within us that later our body manifests with some ailment. For example, with panic attacks, which although they are not an organic pathology per se, they generate organic symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, insomnia, perspiration and tremors.

There is also a linear relationship between anger and myocardial infarctions, there are people who feel sadness, become depressed and stop eating, lose weight and that generates an organic disease. “But we must not think that all diseases have an emotional origin,” says Lapman.

Indeed, Mara Fernández, a psychologist specializing in eating behavior disorders, considers that it is important to show feelings and not repress them, since what is not expressed by words is reflected in the body. “Trying to hide emotions can lead the body to develop different symptoms, both mental and physical,” she says.

In turn, the graduate describes emotions as psychological and physiological reactions that people experience on a daily basis, although we may not always be aware of it. They are unavoidable, they allow us to evaluate the situations we experience and serve to adapt to the environment and learn about the world in which we live. “Fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, depression are basic emotions that are characterized by an unpleasant or negative affective experience and high bodily activation. While the positive ones, such as joy, generate pleasant sensations, and can cause positive changes in thought and behavior, which promote psychosocial, intellectual and physical health, ”she describes.

Why can emotions make us sick?

According to Fernández, negative emotional reactions sustained over time maintain intense levels of psychoneuroendocrine activation that can deteriorate our health. For example, they can increase heart rate, cause headaches, attention deficit, lack of concentration, high blood pressure, eating behavior disorders, alterations in the endocrine system, for example the rhythm of the stress hormone called cortisol, which can cause disease cardiovascular or immune system failure.

When our body identifies a situation or emotion as negative, there is a response of neurotransmitters that release cortisol, which produces an increase in heart rate. That negative interpretation that makes us feel totally vulnerable.

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According to Dr. María Sánchez Calvin, a medical specialist in nutrition, medical psychology and psychonutrition, at that time our brain does something very archaic, which is what has made us survive as human beings for millions of years. “The brain prepares the body for fight or flight, that is the response to cortisol that is generated in our body, then that tachycardia appears to give energy to the muscles to be able to fight or flee, this unpleasant sensation appears in which the person feels the heart racing and sweats, “he says.

However, when this situation or discharge is short and, for example, the person resorts to breathing through the technique of making him aware, he can lower the heart rate and well-being returns faster. But if the person is continuously in this situation of stress, which the brain processes as a dangerous situation, if he cannot return to his emotional well-being, another type of help must be resorted to.

strategies to reconnect

“Many of the discomforts are managed with breathing, from meditation and mindfulness, which propose returning to the awareness of the present moment. Other people will need to work with professionals such as psychologists who can provide other types of tools to handle these situations,” says Sánchez Calvin. From psychology, Castro assures that paying attention to what happens to us and talking about our emotions are the main channels to prevent our body from unconsciously getting sick because of what we feel.

There are different strategies to channel those negative emotions or feelings: “there are those who go for a run or a walk, or go to the gym and with that they can find their axis again, there are patients who achieve it through an aroma, there are those who wear to cook a delicious meal”, explains Sánchez Calvin.

The specialist recalls that “during the pandemic, everyone started cooking, why? Because the first thing our mothers did when they brought us into the world was to put us on their laps, in the most cared-for place that exists, and they breastfed us. So the kitchen takes you to that place, to that feeling safe, to lower the stress of not knowing what is happening. Exercise is also beneficial because endorphins are released that generate well-being, it is a way to release adrenaline and not let it accumulate because that brings a feeling of discomfort, ”she explains.

For his part, Lapman maintains that in order to channel negative emotions, the person has to improve his lifestyle and to achieve this he must make the decision to take care of himself.

“People are always there for each other but they forget about themselves and they don’t eat well, they don’t exercise, they don’t meditate, they don’t connect with other people, they don’t do anything that connects with their meaning of life. You have to work on yourself because there is no pill that says I’ll take away your sadness or anxiety”, he emphasizes and lists some examples of what we can do daily for our well-being. From calling a distant friend, preparing a meal, going for a walk, listening to a playlist that motivates us, a getaway to nature, setting small goals that are big in the long term. “People live on groundhog day, every day is the same and this generates a very pathological dynamic that ends up triggering heart attacks, cancers. It is necessary to reconnect with oneself, detach from technology, turn off the phone for a few hours, read a book and set a minimum goal every day that gives us well-being”, he concludes.

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