Emotional Health

Emotional Health

How well you handle stress, anger, relationships, work, family life-it all factors into your emotional health. Finding balance in life-as well as peace of mind-helps us cope with life's ups and downs. Take time to explore new ways to find stress relief, and to release anxiety, and unhappiness. Counseling can help-as can a gratitude journal.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Positive thinking is good for your health. If you think of yourself as healthy or believe that you can be healthy, you are more likely to beat an illness and get well. On the flip side, if you think you're sick or you’ll never get better, you have a much higher chance of staying right where you are or getting worse.

    For me, after all my years of study to diagnose and treat disease, optimal health comes down to this one simple fact: I can help you the most -- contribute to prolonging your life and improving its quality -- by helping you reframe your experience. Your blood pressure, blood sugar and weight do factor into the overall picture of your health. However, too many doctors and patients get lost in the pursuit of “ideal” numbers. They are meaningless out of the context of who you are, how you think and how you feel. In conventional medicine, we don’t talk enough about the mind  -- where you have the greatest opportunity for optimal health and where you have the most potential to make the biggest improvements.

    This content originally appeared on http://slowmedicinedoctor.com/mind-matters/
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    The world is filled with all kinds of eccentric personalities-the laid-back surfer, the cerebral artist, the nagging mother-in-law, the driven business executive, the self-deprecating comic. And you know what? You're included somewhere on this list, too, and that's good. The world would be pretty boring if we didn't have such diverse personalities.

    Although we applaud the world's weirdness, we have to make a difference between good weird and bad weird. When these personality traits start aversely affecting your life-in your daily activities and the way you interact with people-you might have a problem.

    For example, keeping your house clean is good. Scrubbing your sink so often that your kids have to make a reservation to use the bathroom isn't. Being cautious about driving is good. But being so worried about having an accident that you won't leave the house isn't.

    That's the line in diagnosing emotional disorders. Is your personality trait simply idiosyncratic and somewhat endearing? Or is it so destructive that it changes the way you and others around you live?

    In either case, just simply telling yourself to change may not be effective. It used to be that people thought you could turn personality traits off and on, that all it takes to change is the will to change. But we know now that brains are like college freshmen-sometimes they're going to do whatever they want no matter what you tell them.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    One of the keys to having a healthy mind is to live as much as you can in the moment; that is, thinking about what you're doing right now, not worrying about the mistakes you made yesterday or the headaches that await you tomorrow. That actually helps reduce the noise in the system.

    Evolutionarily, you can see how it works: When you're aroused by stress (saber-tooth bearing down fast), you have a very narrow functioning cognitive ability: run, fight, or die. Good for survival, sure, but that acute function actually shortens the telomeres on your chromosomes and contributes to memory problems. In the modern age, more stress means the inability to concentrate, and that's been shown to contribute to a shrinking of the prefrontal cortex.

    Is living in the moment hard to do? Of course it can be, but it's a behavior you can learn with practice, similar to our previous strategy of thinking about thinking. Example: When you're playing with your kids and letting tomorrow's workday weigh on you, force yourself to concentrate on Candyland, making it a great experience for your kids rather than a distant one for you. It takes some time and effort, but in the end, the act of living in the moment rewards not only you but the people around you.
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    A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered

    We all have friends or family who fit the polar ends of personality - the cheerleader types who can smile even after getting puddle-pummeled by a bus and the negative types who frown at butterflies. Positive emotions play a crucial role in developing the enduring relationships that are critical for our happiness. (One example: The boomerang smile - that is, a shared smile between mother and baby.)
    We know negative emotions change our brain function to increase stress, which increases the risk of things like cancer and heart disease. Since we also know positive emotions change the way brain functions to reduce stress, they can help cancel out those health risks. The best evidence comes from studies on meditation and relaxation therapies, which show their ability to calm a jumpy heart down. Other studies have found a strong correlation between positive moods and the improvement of physical symptoms such as listlessness and weakened immune function. All are clearly contributors to happiness (or lack thereof).

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered

    Whether you work for a company or your family, I bet that you live and die by the list. Doesn't matter whether you use Post-Its, a notebook, a wipe board, a PDA, or scraps of tissues - I want you to not only keep a to-do list, but also an I-hate list. That is, when something bothers you in your job, write it down. Now revisit the list in a week. If it's still bothering you, then maybe it's time to aggressively pursue a solution (or another job). My guess: Most of the time, those annoyances will be as fleeting as a one-hit wonder. And that should help you realize that it's the big picture, not the little one that counts. For times when that list grows too fast, well, it's always smart to keep your resume handy.

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    A , Administration, answered

    Learning to accept and love ourselves in our bodies is an important ongoing struggle and a political statement. It can take time to embrace our own beauty, or even to recognize it. The self-loathing that many of us live with each day eats away at our well-being.

    We need to do more than love ourselves. To make change, to produce a world in which all of us are accepted, we must see ourselves as part of a community of women, and understand how the personal decisions we make - such as whether to diet or dye our hair or get a face-lift - can affect other women. Our mission, should we accept it, is to create a future in which every woman can experience the joy of being valued completely for who she is - and what she looks like.

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    A , Administration, answered

    The loss of a youthful appearance, as well as the emotional and social changes that may accompany menopause and aging can hurt our self-esteem. The changes that are seen at midlife can be disconcerting. Some research indicates that these changes in the body image have a significant impact on our sexual desire and sexual self-esteem at midlife.

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    A , Administration, answered

    Some women deliberately cause self-injury, possibly in response to trauma as a child or an adult. They may cut, hit, or burn themselves or pull out their hair in an effort to cope with overwhelming feelings. The self-injury is not about suicide but rather is an attempt to cope (although one might have suicidal feelings apart from the self-injury).

    Some mental health professionals find self-injury difficult to deal with and sometimes react with unhelpful frustration and accusatory language, for example, "You are doing this just to get attention." It is important to find someone experienced with this problem who can be sympathetic and supportive, and who understands how self-injury can serve as a soothing mechanism when difficult feelings become overwhelming. Some women find it helpful to start or join a support group. Because there is a lot of shame involved in self-injury, it is often kept a secret that women bear alone.

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    A , Administration, answered

    Many of us learned at an early age that we are not supposed to be angry or aggressive or want or need too much. When we repeatedly suppress these "negative" feelings, we may eventually be less aware of what we feel. Yet many of us have much to be angry about, from the pervasiveness of racism, sexism, and other injustices that affect our lives to the individual losses we have suffered.Learning to know what you feel and why you may feel as you do, and learning how to release or express your feelings in appropriate and constructive ways, can free you to feel better about your life. Keeping a journal, making art, seeing a therapist, crying with friends, or exercising vigorously can all be helpful ways of releasing and addressing emotions.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered

    Environment is a crucial piece of the puzzle when you look at behavior because your brain reacts profoundly to its surrounding environment. One of the main reasons you are not simply predestined for a particular behavior by your genes is that your environment can turn those genes on or off; when you learn how to optimize your environment, you learn how to make behavioral change easier and more successful.

    Your environment has a powerful impact on your behavior. Genes are turned on or off based, to a large degree, on what's right around you. Set up your world so that it encourages healthy living.

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