Dr. Susan Charles, professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and other researchers undertook a study to answer a basic mental health question: Do everyday irritations accumulate in ways that hurt us or do they make us stronger and more resilient over time?
Dr. Charles and team used data from two 10-year studies to help answer the question. Using a survey group of 711 people ranging in age from 25 to 74, they found that participants' negative emotional responses to everyday stressers such as arguments with family members, work conflicts, traffic delays, and so forth predicted psychological distress to include anxiety and mood disorders 10-years later.
"How we manage daily emotions matters to our overall mental health," according to Dr. Charles. "We're so focused on long-term goals that we don't see the importance of regulating our emotions. Changing how how you respond to stress and how you think about stressful situations is as important as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine."1
Self-Regulating Emotional Response
So how do we stop being buffeted by the storms of emotions and start asserting control over our reactions and behavior?
A foundation insight for our, "Choosing Emotional Wellbeing" program is to realize one simple truth:
"It's only energy!"
What does that mean? It means the feelings we label as anger, fear, sadness, and so forth are the presentations in our bodies of energy created feelings. We feel emotions and those feeling seem like reality, but they are only blocked energy forms within our energy system.
We create the energy forms through physiological processes that typically involve the amygdala (and other parts of the limbic and reptillian brain segments) and the HPA (hypothalamic - pituitary - adrenal) Axis. Our brains are hardwired for emotional response, but our beliefs play a major role in assessing the meaning of a given perception and our subsequent reactions.
When our energy is flowing freely we feel good; we feel in balance; we smile frequently and we experience a state of body-mind called happiness. When we're in emotional reaction to perceived negative events, happiness leaves the building followed by emotional balance and self-control.
Can we gain greater conscious control over what seems like an automatic immediate emotional response? Yes we can.
De-Stressing Throughout the Day
As a minimum, at least once an hour get up from your desk or stop what you're doing for a de-stressing break. Walk around; go outside if possible; look out of a window; close your eyes and breathe deeply for 30 seconds to a minute.
The simple act of closing your eyes increases alpha waves in the brain. Alpha waves are associated with what's called the Relaxation Response, a calm and creative state of mind that promotes physical and mental wellbeing.
If you have time and privacy, there are multiple methods of meditation that, done consistently over time, change the brain in ways that lead to greater mindful awareness and control over emotional reactions.
Meridian Tapping and Other Energy Psychology Methods
One of my favorite methods for general de-stressing and releasing emotional reactions associated with specific events is Meridian Tapping and other Energy Psychology methods. We'll have much more to say about using Meridian Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques, Thought Field Therapy, Energy EFT, etc.) for emotional and physical wellbeing in future posts.
To learn more about these wonderful methods, please visit my Energy Psychology website at: http://www.EFT-MD.com.
In addition to eyes closed deep breathing and other de-stressing activities, spend time listening to your favorite music and doing other things that create good feelings. Feel good for no reason and decide that the real "You" is much, much bigger than knee-jerk emotional reactions.
I encourage you to make a conscious choice now to begin a de-stressing program. Start your day with a one-minute (or longer) eyes closed deep breathing routine. Repeat periodically throughout the day and evening. Adding in a little Meridian Tapping to neutralize emotional charges associated with specific events that happen during the day can help round out your foundation emotional wellbeing program.
Until next time,
Chief Energy Officer, Stress Solutions, LLC
1. "Daily stress takes a toll on long-term mental health, UCI-led study finds"; "USIrvine News";
Important Note: This and all other postings to this blog are for informational purposes only. This and all other posts are not intended to diagnose, treat, or otherwise recommend any treatment for any medical or psychological condition. Anyone using any of the information contained in this or any other posting on this website does so at his or her own risk. You are urged to seek competent medical consultations with appropriate licensed medical professionals for any and all medical or physical conditions.