Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
29 Nov

The Physical Toll of Negative Emotions

fracturedLiving Primally is first and foremost about taking responsibility for your own health. Though we might not be able to control each and every facet of our lives and genetics, we have considerably more power than we think. Diet, exercise, sleep, sun, social connection, and play all figure centrally into our health. (If you’ve been with us at MDA for even a week, you’ve probably figured that out.) That said, there are also more nuanced facets to wellbeing – subtler influences and interactions that we might not consider each day. True, when we rein in the bad habits and rewire unhealthy patterns, we open the door for an unprecedented level of thriving. Some of us, however, carry other kinds of baggage burdensome enough to keep us from ultimately passing over the threshold. I’m talking about the emotional cargo we live with – the anger, resentment, repression, sadness, guilt, or inertia (to name a few) – and its inevitable toll on our physiological health.

A few months ago, Dr. Albert Fuchs wrote a post highlighting the role of guilt played in some of his patients’ symptoms. Many physicians, Fuchs explains, see people whose physical suffering has no apparent medical source – somatization in medical jargon. Their conditions, which range from insomnia to chest pain, are rooted in guilt. What these folks need, Fuchs argues, is emotional and spiritual “absolution,” not medical treatment.

Fuch’s observation is just the tip of the iceberg, I’d suggest. In recent years, studies have highlighted the role stress, emotions, and personality traits play in serious health risks. For example, research shows sadness increases our perception of pain. Anxiety increases our chance of heart attack. Stress heightens our risk for stroke. Depression raises levels of inflammation-promoting proteins and increases the accumulation of abdominal fat. Suppressing our feelings even suppresses our immune function!

Our emotions aren’t just intellectual configurations. They’re wholly visceral processes. Imagine the emotionally charged times when you’ve had sweaty palms, a tightened chest, muscle tension, a knotted stomach, constricted throat, or light-headedness. It’s all part of the inherent mind-body connection. Our emotions elicit biochemical signals that set in motion a chain of positive or negative physiological events that include or influence everything from blood pressure to blood viscosity, gastrointestinal function to pain perception.

We’re designed, of course, to experience (and recover quickly from) a wide range of emotions, but when we get stuck in a negative rut for too long, it exacts a physiological as well as psychological toll. Over time, our physical condition reflects our emotional state. The persistent physiological impact of our feelings becomes imbedded in our body itself – in skewed neurochemical patterns, inefficient systemic functioning, even epigenetic profiles.

Eastern medicine more readily acknowledges the nuances of our mind-body connection. Yoga, for one, attends to the physical tension we carry as manifestations of emotional strain. Within the strategic focus of poses and the centering of breath work, we can cultivate a physical and emotional sense of release. It’s a discipline that mirrors many other Eastern and alternative practices which appreciate either literally or metaphorically how our bodies and minds are inherently imbricated.

From an evolutionary standpoint, it also makes sense. The more we discover, the more we understand about the body’s and brain’s complementary operations in animals and in our own species. Emotions and emotional perception were part of the larger picture of survival. They spurred us to action or inaction that could save our hides when we were up against a predator or a hostile or helpful stranger. They fostered our successful interactions with kin and even our childhood caretakers.

Today, in a world much safer and more mentally detached from the imperative of the present, I think it’s easier to lose ourselves in emotional narratives (that destructive penchant for self-talk) that can extend and expand our pain beyond the actual situations that prompted them to begin with. How much of our emotional anguish is caused by an unfair or unfortunate scenario, and how much is caused by our unrelenting grip on it. Our negative emotion (e.g. anger, sadness, guilt) likely had at least some legitimate value when the circumstances occurred, but at what point does it spring not from the original event anymore but from our own self-destructive clinging?

From a personal standpoint, how many of us have lived for weeks if not months with our stomachs in knots over stress? How many have ever gone months or even years stressed by a negative relationship (be it partnership, friendship, family, or work) that caused chronic headaches, muscle tension, or other symptoms? (A literal as well as figurative pain in the neck?) How many have felt perpetually fatigued by the weight of resentment?

Hanging onto emotion after the fact, in its lesser forms, can hold us back from experiencing full thriving. In it’s worst manifestations, we let it cannibalize us. When we take responsibility for our health, we also take responsibility for our mental health and the self-talk that fuels (or constrains) our lives. It helps to cultivate a “let it go” approach to life and to let go of negative self-talk that sends us down a useless emotional path. Counselors commonly suggest patients who tend to fall into negative thought patterns nip the process in the bud by learning to identify the physical sensations that begin the downward spiral. Maybe it’s a flushed face, a head rush, or a queasy stomach. Staying attuned to our physical cues can be more effective for many people than trying to mentally police runaway thoughts.

However, taking responsibility also means being honest with ourselves about what we resist addressing in our lives. It calls us to make hard choices sometimes – to let go of friendships that aren’t serving us anymore, to take a risk moving on from a soul-sucking job, to either leave a relationship or commit to the hard (and mutual) work of reshaping it. It calls us to get real about the negative thoughts and patterns that lead us to self-sabotage our lives, actions that result in continual mental and physiological consequences. Responsibility for our wellbeing is undoubtedly life’s grandest opportunity, but it’s also our most profound accountability.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. How do you identify with or respond to the role emotions play in physical health? What advice, practices, or truths have you found meaningful in taking responsibility for your full wellbeing?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I can’t help but connect this to Mark’s post last week about alcohol. So many people use alcohol and other drugs to escape their resentments, fears, guilt–all the negative emotions that Mark is identifying as so destructive. I really don’t see everything through the lens of alcohol, but I am a recovered alcoholic, and it’s amazing to me how much of what Mark wrote about in this post is directly addressed by the 12-step program of recovery. What most people don’t realize is that Alcoholics Anonymous is not about alcohol. It’s about directly addressing the spiritual sickness that drives alcoholics to drink. In fact, when you look at the summary form (the list) of the 12 steps, the word alcohol only appears in the first half of the first step. The rest is all about spirituality. That’s why the steps deliver exactly what Dr. Fuchs talks about–“emotional and spiritual absolution.” I recommend them to anyone struggling with all the negative self-talk, resentment, guilt, etc., that Mark highlights as being so destructive. As far as the connection between the spirit and the body, there is a line from the book Alcoholics Anonymous that is remarkably apropos: “When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” For the authors of that book, spirituality comes first, physicality follows.

    Bob wrote on November 29th, 2012
  2. Just “thinking positive” can actually make symptoms and pain worse. A lot of chronic pain results from repressing negative emotions, particularly anger. REad the work of Dr. John Sarno (The Mind-Body Prescription, etc). It’s amazing how the mind can create pain and other symptoms in the body in order to distract you from the anger you feel about a situation. For some reason the unconscious mind finds this anger very threatening and would rather have you be in pain than have you recognize the anger.

    I think this is because we evolved to live in small groups and it may not always have been possible to escape bullies, so you just had to learn to live with them and try to avoid them and definitely not confront them. YOu could not just leave the group and survive on your own, either.

    But now we can choose whom we associate with. I just got rid of a long-standing pain syndrome by “speaking truth to power” in two important relationships: one with a neighbor who had been harassing me, and the other with a partner who had been mistreating me. These relationships may not really survive my boundary-setting, but I’d rather have the use of my right hand back than to keep being “friends” with people who are abusive.

    shannon wrote on November 29th, 2012
  3. Great post. Often, we become so concerned with our physical well-being, it’s easy to forget the mental. Since both are connected, it proves that both need to be properly fed and cared for in order to function properly.

    James wrote on November 29th, 2012
  4. Not all stress is optional. For those supporting family or friends through a terminal illness, there can be a huge physical toll from lack of sleep, adrenaline, etc. Hospitals advise it can take over a year for families to recover their health after the loved one has passed. However supporting those you love is an essential part of being human.

    Anonymous wrote on November 29th, 2012
  5. Thank you thank you for addressing this topic Mark! It just doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

    So, let go of negative self-talk and feelings of guilt…no problem, right? Except, how do you do that?

    Osho once said: “there are things which simply melt in the light of awareness.” That’s what many of the Eastern traditions and practices try to cultivate in the individual – a profound awareness.

    Here in the West we have so many stimuli coming at us, so many responsibilities and thoughts crowding our minds that even to sit down quietly to a meal and enjoy it consciously and slowly without the television yakking makes us fidget!

    We’re all broken and products of our past and messed upbringings (even if they were ‘good’ upbringings) that the only thing to do is to face everything that arises in the body, mind and spirit with courage and awareness. Just my 2 cents. Peace ya’ll!

    Victor Dorfman wrote on November 29th, 2012
    • p.s. Screaming your head off in utter rage is also great for releasing!

      Victor Dorfman wrote on November 29th, 2012
      • Yes! When I find my self in a glass case of emotion, yelling and sobbing helps.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on November 30th, 2012
  6. I’m working on the skill of living in the now.

    When we learn how to do that, our thoughts aren’t mired in two of the most common sources of negative emotions: the past and the future.

    I highly recommend The Power Of Now by Ekhart Tolle. The book actually tells you HOW to LEARN THE SKILLOF pushing troubling thoughts from the mind so you can be in the now.

    Yes, the author acknowledges, it’s necessary sometimes to tend to matters relating to the past and the future, BUT, he explains, the way to live is to spend no more time than is absolutely necessary on those things. The rest of the time (which is most of the time), we need to be in the now.

    A truly-life changing read that can change your life really fast.

    Susan Alexander wrote on November 29th, 2012
  7. I loved this post and as always, love reading through everyone’s comments and experiences. I don’t usually comment, but this article really struck home.

    I have been fully Primal for 14 months now. I thought that all of the truly difficult things had passed in my life, that I had gotten them out of the way (being sexually abused in childhood, having my father die, my mom staying with my abuser, being cheated on by boyfriends, experiencing debilitating depression, having some very [mentally] abusive relationships), but during the last year, I experienced a few other things that I just did not see coming.

    Had I not been primal, I believe that I would not have had the mental capacity required to sustain myself during these incredibly confusing and difficult times. I would have buckled the same way I fell apart during my youth. While I can give myself some credit for becoming a well-adjusted adult on my own and dealing with all of the psychology of these things over the years, eating properly (greens and veggies, wild/sustainable/traditionally-raised meats, aged cheese, animals fats, bone broths, organs, fresh water, probiotics) has helped my mind more than it has helped my body. My body has not changed much (but I have not had wight issues, nor have I exercised much to change my appearance) but I can feel the difference it has made inside.

    The last thing I just feel like sharing is that it is true, how repression and shame and bad relationships can eat away at us. I am in a relationship that is not bad in many ways… but then in many others, it is just not where I am supposed to be. I know it deep down. But I keep telling myself I owe it to him, I’d be a liar if I left, maybe no one else would love me the same way, or no one else would share my dream for certain things. All of these are useless fears, but nevertheless, they are fears that I cannot let go of for some reason. I am stuck, and I can certainly attest to the truth of this post.

    Thanks Mark for posting this.

    Christina wrote on November 29th, 2012
    • Christina, It’s always difficult to let go of relationships, especially when we feel as if we are going back on our word or letting someone down (or whatever your situation is). Remember, you owe yourself first and foremost, before you owe anyone else anything. It’s easier said than done, but if you tell yourself this everyday, then eventually I hope you will be able to believe it and do it. Someone (and probably several someones) are capable of and will love you. Go after your dreams, for they are yours, and you will find others along the way that share your passions. So, I’m sending you love, not only because I think you need it, but because you deserve it. Always remind yourself of that. And I wish you the best.

      Stacie wrote on November 30th, 2012
      • +1…Well said to Christina, Stacie…I was thinking just the same thing to write to her…

        Donna wrote on December 2nd, 2012
  8. Brilliant post Mark! thank you! I suspect that maintaining emotional health is just as important as the quality of our food for our long term well being.

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and after completing the physical treatment, a very enlightened doctor recommended that I see a specialist in NET (Neuro Emotional Technique). It is a similar discipline to kinesiology where they use muscle testing to locate repressed emotions and then work to clear them. What showed up was a jumble of emotions which for years I’d become so used to I no longer noticed. So ingrained and normalised, they went by virtually un-noticed by my conscious brain but underneath they were playing havoc.

    It opened up a whole new world to me. I learnt how long forgotten pain can still have it’s hooks in you even when you’re all grown up and doing ok. When something happens and you react in an irrational way it could possibly be some long forgotten pain.

    I’ve been eating primally since 2009 and interestingly, I think it was the increasing purity of my food that switched on my intuition to alert me that something was amiss, ie the tumour.

    Thank you so much for your generosity Mark :-)

    Caroline wrote on November 29th, 2012
  9. Mark, this is so true that our physical and emotional and mental health is intertwined. Definitely our stresses affect our physical health.

    Amy Hagerup wrote on November 29th, 2012
  10. Utterly inspiring and so true. I personally and a huge fan of something called Bach Flower Essences which help a person to understand and often release their own emotional patterns. They have played an invaluable role in my own primal journey:
    http://bachflower.com/wordpress/

    Some years ago I found a site that mixed flower essence remedies; it said you could reprogram a personal trait like feeling guilty entirely in 18 months of continuous usage of an essence. That’s a long time for most people. I personally have had good results in 3-6 months of regularly using an essence, and have able to immediately get clarity about what to do next to resolve a problem. The gentle yet potent support of Bach flower essences really can’t be overstated; they are totally phenomenal.

    Cathy wrote on November 29th, 2012
  11. This is Mark’s Daily Apple at its very best–regular doses of scientific and practical stuff wrapped, today, with thoughtful scrutiny of how we also control our own spiritual and emotional destiny. Gonna mull this one over for awhile and good will come of it I’m sure.

    DThalman wrote on November 29th, 2012
  12. Awesome post! Yes for too long the way our thoughts and feelings impact on our health and wellness has been largely ignored by conventional health care.. even when Harvard Medical School in 2006 came out with research suggesting that up to 85% of sickness and disease is caused or maintained by negative thoughts and feelings.. so pretty important then? Yes!

    wiremu wrote on November 29th, 2012
  13. Oh people, I don’t have patience for this.
    “Eastern medicine more readily acknowledges the nuances of our mind-body connection. Yoga, for one, attends to the physical tension we carry as manifestations of emotional strain.”
    Eastern medicine does have a problem with cast societies. Psychobabblers of all sorts don’t have any problems with slavery or wage slavery.
    Yes, we should babble about “reducing stress” and promote wage slavery for example. Just yesterday, I watched some idiotic MD promoting “stress reduction” and thought that we should place such idiotic MDs in the situation so many people are in: lack of health care, presence of financial insecurity, etc. and let them babble then.

    anna5 wrote on November 29th, 2012
  14. Big aloha and thanks for this, Mark. The clarity you write with is inspiring and inviting.

    How do you identify with or respond to the role emotions play in physical health?
    After 19 years of being forced (by adoptive parents hiding abuses) on Psych meds and 13 years of honoring the intelligence of my mind/body/Spirit has shown me how dangerous numbing symptoms is. The meds only shut out my emotions. They were still there 19 years later, and thank God Maui is littered with massage, yoga and healers, because I needed a world of Love to stay present to clear the old old emotional baggage that came right on back. Emotions are energy and it needs Spiritual resolution, I find. Drugs don’t heal, just postpone and aggravate.
    I have come to appreciate I can not feel a thing when I am blocking or resisting any emotion. I can stay distracted and miss breathing fully. I am getting so much joy from allowing myself to nap anytime my body says NAP! …and playing when the beach invites me to: RUN! SWIM! Splash! zig zag down the shoreline! This is playing. I love it. My emotions flow in joy, again…thank you for the great reminders of what my body loves. I am having more fun now! I am free to feel, to heal, to Be.

    What advice, practices, or truths have you found meaningful in taking responsibility for your full wellbeing? Permaculture Design (PcD) as it embodies Nature’s wisdom in creating human homes. PcD ethics and principles allow abundance & beauty to flourish and for all life to synergize and harmonize, including humans! Core Regeneration & Illumination prayer circles integrate PcD & Ger Lyons’ Core Transformation: this is the real deal, a field of Love so powerful that healing is deep, profound, and lasting…(gerlyons.net) Body Ecology & Primal Blueprint have given me such great choices, as has the Cure for Alcoholism & Addiction in its view of the Human Spirit as senior to all addiction. So true. We just need a tribe, a supportive community to heal where not-so-supportive community trained us away from our Divine Nature being brought through in our human bodies.

    Claire Kellerman wrote on November 29th, 2012
  15. Sounds like alot of secular mumbo jumbo Mark.

    Negative emotions????

    I can’t agree with you on that. Emotions are just emotions. I suppose if you want to get sucked into a race between good and bad you have to label what you feel the same way.

    But you probably won’t even publish this post as you never really enjoy dissenters comments.

    zeph wrote on November 30th, 2012
  16. If you are interested in original, evidence-based work on this subject, I highly recommend a new book by Professor Richard Davidson, The Emotional Life of Your Brain. (FYI to Zeph, positive and negative emotions apparently show up on fMRI scans).

    Professor Davidson not only chronicles the story of original research illuminating key emotional traits, he offers tools for self-assessment and techniques for improvement.

    I will give away the ending: Meditate. He essentially uses hard core science to demonstrate you can rewire your brain.

    Juli wrote on November 30th, 2012
    • “Meditate. He essentially uses hard core science to demonstrate you can rewire your brain.”
      You know this forum and similar “health” forums do give an impression that a group of overfed and overprivileged retards have nothing else to do in their idiotic lives than babble.
      Give humans vacations and civilized way of life instead of this constant “blaming the victims” babbling about “stress reduction.”

      anna5 wrote on November 30th, 2012
      • Anna,

        I agree, social injustice has a very serious impact on all aspects of health: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Much of what we try to do as individuals is defeated by the greater forces of society. It is also true that while we are trying to better our lives individually, those in a position to do so should also work toward changing conditions for those caught in the vise-grip of the daily grind. This can only be done through activism and political pressure, however. In the meanwhile though, we all have to find ways of coping with the status quo.

        I don’t know your personal circumstances, but I wish you the best in getting some time off soon and finding a better balance between the scramble to make a living and the time to simply live.

        I also believe, however, that the ideas people are putting forward here are of a piece with your lament. Nobody here is blaming the victims. They are trying to offer tools for coping with whatever stresses are present in our lives. Please do not diss their intentions or their lifestyles. Many of the people who post here regularly are hard-working wage earners who have to scramble to make ends meet. Many live very modestly on limited means. If they spend time on MDA and put their two cents in from time to time, it is because they have found something that inspires their passions — passion they want to share with others. It is not “babbling”. They are neither “overprivileged” nor “retards”. They are sincere individuals seeking knowledge and sharing information that they believe could help someone else.

        Chica wrote on November 30th, 2012
        • Again, Juli, create a civilized society with normal workweeks, vacations, sick days, child care, etc. and humans will decide whether they want to “meditate,” or read a book or have LONG conversations with civilized and relaxed family members and friends or just lie on the beach or take long walks there.
          This “multitask” 12 hours a days, but remember to be responsible and take 2 5 minutes breaks to “meditate” is barbarity.

          anna5 wrote on December 1st, 2012
        • Chica,
          I don’t have patience for your preaching tone.
          There is a problem with “positivity” indecent idiocy and it doesn’t matter who promotes (or participates in promotion) this nonsense.

          anna5 wrote on December 1st, 2012
  17. Well, suppose I am a person earning $100,000.00 per year (after taxes), with no kids, two cars, and a mortgage I can easily handle. I get into a fender-bender and the car has to go to the garage, where they tell me it will cost me $2,000.00 and a week to get the car back. And suppose, because I can afford it, that I have very good insurance.

    Now suppose I am a divorced parent of two, no welfare (because I do not want my life run by a welfare worker), minimal-to-no child support (because I am in fear of the other parent of my children), supporting them and myself on a minimum-wage job, with one car, minimal insurance (because that is all I can afford) and I get into the same kind of fender-bender. Such a situation, to such a person, is life-threatening. I could lose my job. If I have no job, I cannot pay my rent and feed my children. And if I apply for welfare or food stamps, I destroy my independence and my ability to raise my children as I see fit. Are my negative emotions of anxiety, fear, guilt, depression and anger merely “baggage”, or are they the result of a real, live, accurate assessment of my situation? In such a situation, I would not need a paleo life-style, or supplements, or Prozac or psychotherapy that would condescendingly “teach” me to “reframe” my situation as a chance for “personal growth”.

    What I would need is money.

    If I were the first person, the $100,000.00/per year person, my emotions might well be due to emotional baggage. But not if I am the second person.

    To make a long story short, “negative” emotions are not always due to “baggage”, and generalizing about the emotions popularly referred to as “negative”by feel-good, pop psychology is myopic, narcissistic and self-indulgent.

    Helen wrote on November 30th, 2012
    • “What I would need is money.”

      What you would need is some faith and some willingness to address the situation head on. Talk with the employer. Find alternatives to get to work. Consider that at that income level, an apartment that requires driving is an unaffordable luxury.

      My father was employer who because of economics of the business, could only afford to pay minimum wage. He would have gladly helped a reliable employee get to work temporarily. If an employer is really so foolish to allow reliable, trained help go because of a temporary situation, then in the long term the employee is much better off finding a better employer.

      Amy wrote on November 30th, 2012
    • I found myself reading these last few comments with particular interest because they speak to the idea that some people, due to lack of opportunity, have good reasons to feel emotionally burdened. This seems an obvious point to make that is often overlooked when we start talking about emotional health. Although these people may benefit from the power of positive thinking and stress reduction practices, what they really need is material support. In other words, “taking personal responsibility” for one’s mental health will only get some people so far.

      Anna5, while I agree with substance of your post, I don’t think pejorative use of the word “retards” is very kind or helpful.

      Greg wrote on November 30th, 2012
      • Sorry, Greg, what matters is substance. I wasn’t raised a Carnegian (Dale, smile, don’t argue, smile again) and I’d rather die than be one.

        anna5 wrote on November 30th, 2012
      • There are some 50 million of uninsured, many more underinsured. People work three jobs without any benefits and are homeless, etc. and how do you suggest I view people functioning in the style: “You know, the problem is with you. You should learn how to MANAGE stress – meditate, smile, hug, etc.?”

        anna5 wrote on November 30th, 2012
        • Wait a minute. I am curious if you looked up anything about what I posted regarding Professor Davidson’s work. “Meditate” is not the same as smile, pretend nothing is wrong etc. “Resilience” is one quality he has studied extensively, and it applies well to everyone. As does compassion.

          My very specific comment certainly was not meant to suggest this as a panacea for all the world’s problems. Ironically, I spend most of mine time working on access to care and health issues and would never diminish the very real and very difficult things people deal with (that go far beyond “stress” and that are very often things they have no control over).

          However even people in very bad places (e.g. people who have experienced physical abuse) can benefit from training in meditation. It’s not some elitist property, and is practiced by people of all walks of life in many parts of the world. That doesn’t mean there still isn’t a long list of other things the same people need (safety, housing, food, healthcare) — I would never suggest that!

          I try hard every day to be a better person in order to serve others more effectively, and what I’ve learned about meditation has (I hope) helped me to do so. That’s why I made my original post.

          Juli wrote on December 1st, 2012
      • Juli,
        I’ll look up your meditation guy, after you’ve spent decades studying and thinking about history and societies. At this moment, I really, really, really don’t care what this or that guy thinks about “meditation.”
        Chasing the fashionable book of the day to be able to function in the fashionable corporate mode isn’t my style.

        anna5 wrote on December 1st, 2012
    • F*%#* Yeah.
      Loved your example, got the t-shirt:

      In 1992, had $100,000. in my checking account. I was panicked, because how could I contribute to improving conditions on planet earth, which was my mission, when I was so lost personally, emotionally, and in every way, I felt drawn to serve, and stuck in my baggage, which turned out was not all baggage, but some realtime actual suppressive relationships and a society bent on suicide. I drew strength from my Heart, Love, Nature and excellent mentors. Then, all my money was lost to a loan I made to a family member. Oops, now I was on food stamps, homeless for seven months, not doing drugs, not drinking, eating well, and facing the panic within. Having been homeless as a child, adopted by a materially-rich Hollywood family and then homeless as an adult, I can share that I am grateful for all of it, because I have deeeeep compassion for myself and most all life, I am stable in a naturally balanced & flowing way, I can learn and have, and I write songs that melt and heal me & others…There is grace, and I hear it hear — on this blog — a lot! Thank you everyone for the compassion that I can feel here..and the true learning as well…together. Aloha.

      Claire Kellerman wrote on November 30th, 2012
  18. My sister-in-law is 4yrs old and over the thanksgiving holiday we were sitting at the table having breakfast. She had almost finished her juice and i asked her if the glass was half empty or half full. She looked at me confused and said “it’s just half”. Kids have all the answers.

    New to Primal wrote on November 30th, 2012
  19. Thanks

    raul wrote on November 30th, 2012
  20. Love this post. It’s amazing how our physical and mental health truly affect one another: it’s recursive for me. If I’m taking care of my physical body, then my mental health is better. By the same token, if I’m stressing out a lot, I tend to let my physical health slip a bit. The relationship between the two is quite apparent for me.

    This post made me think about where I was about 10 months ago, before I started reading this blog and taking control of my health. I’m a grad student in Alaska and last winter I found myself depressed, homesick, and overweight. This led to days where I couldn’t get myself out of bed. The dark winter combined with the stress of school and being away from home really hit me hard last semester. I pulled through, as hard as it was, and made it to the sunny summer. But as winter is upon me again up here in the north, I find myself not letting the darkness get to me as much, and I’m still homesick but not depressed. I’m more focused in school and performing better, and I’ve dropped about 40 pounds. I feel amazing, physically and mentally. The two go hand in hand.

    Thanks Mark, for all you do, and for everyone here in the MDA community. This is an amazing place.

    Stacie wrote on November 30th, 2012
  21. Nothing keeps me attuned to my emotional state as well as my toddler. She is so affected by what mood I am in, to the point that sometimes I may not realize I’m in a negative mood until she starts throwing unnecessary temper tantrums. I can put on a smile and a friendly voice, but she knows if it’s genuine or not. It’s gotten to the point that when I wake up in the morning, before I get out of bed, I take a minute to think about how I’m feeling and address any negative feelings. I do this throughout the day and started to realize that I am more stressed out than I thought. So I went back to yoga, which has a profound impact on my emotional state. I’m amazed at how much better I feel between having a daily practice and eating primal now. And my daughter is suddenly a happier child with a lot less resistance and crying.

    Casey wrote on November 30th, 2012
  22. Hi Mark,
    Thankyou for being such a holistic writer, realising that good health is greater than just the food we eat This post is timely for me too. I have been very stressed by family circumstances for a few months and for no apparent reason began feeling nauseous nd exhausted. A visit to my acupuncturist showed that all my organs were producing too much heat and were affecting my entire body. One visit has helped greatly. Certainly I’m a subscriber to the ‘anxious mind causes physical symptoms.’ keep up the great work Mark.

    Di wrote on November 30th, 2012
  23. Great post. I think that there is so much value in moving beyond just the physical and that often the mental can be far more important. Once you address the mental the physical more often than not follows. I think yoga is so so beneficial and it basically saved me from myself. I am in the process of healing myself from the years and years of emotional beatings I gave myself, all the destructive internal self talk that wasn’t helping me but I couldn’t stop it. I am taking responsibility for my whole life, not just my health but my emotional well being as well.

    Mik wrote on December 1st, 2012
  24. Great post mate! Thanks for that 1.

    J-MAN wrote on December 1st, 2012
  25. I second the recommendation for the Power of Now by Tolle.

    Also, for more difficult cases of emotional trauma (like PTSD), this sounds promising:

    Experimental treatment for PTSD: Ecstasy
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/01/health/ecstasy-ptsd-1/index.html

    André Angelantoni wrote on December 1st, 2012
  26. A healthy living is only one component of the whole, an important component, but only one component….
    I know few in the late 70s, some in their 80s, still going strong. My first question was always what do you do? What do you eat? I find their diets varied according to their cultural upbringing and background. But i notice one thing they have in common. They are mostly still working, paid or not, they have a strong family bond, and they are not self obsessive about anything, that is life more than about themselves.

    According to Ayurveda, the inner health of mind & spirit supersedes the outer physical body…

    I have to admit im not that
    successful in the inner health as yet….

    jacquie wrote on December 1st, 2012
  27. What Mark wrote makes great sense. Thank you, Mark, love your blogs…i look forward to all of them, and always learn something new…LOVE them all!!

    jacquie wrote on December 1st, 2012
  28. Thank you Mark!! I treasure your hard work and information.

    Valerie Kerr wrote on December 1st, 2012
  29. This is one of the best, most universally applicable posts I’ve read in a while! Thank you. As a massage therapist, I have seen and felt this through my fingertips over and over again. People come in with severe back pain, I ask about life circumstances, and it all comes gushing out. Getting in touch with the emotions and where they are finding a spot to settle into our bodies is an incredibly healing process. I highly recommend cranio sacral therapy for helping address many of these issues.

    Ariana wrote on December 3rd, 2012
  30. I’ve spent my whole life dealing with PTSD and depression due to childhood sexual abuse by my dad. In the last three years I’ve lost my Mom to cancer, my sister, my home and most of my family due to mental illness (not mine- long story). If I didn’t have Emotional Freeing Technique and Tapas Acupressure Technique I’d probably be dead by now. I also have two amazing therapists AND an MD, ND and endocrinologist who accurately diagnosed my hypo-thyroid and adrenal issues. Now that I’m on the correct medication for my thyroid and working really hard on the adrenal issues I’m doing MUCH better than I have been over the last three years.

    The paleo diet has made a huge difference in my health over-all but dealing with my emotions, my thyroid and sleeping enough have made all the difference to me. I’m still somewhat overweight but as I get more and better quality sleep my emotional issues ebb and my health gets better.

    Check out EFT and TAT for a pair of great ways to deal with emotional problems (free to learn and use at home!) and give them a try. They’ve both worked wonders for me!

    Felicia wrote on December 5th, 2012
  31. When ever something brings me down I think of this story.

    This farmer had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The neighbors came to condole over his terrible loss. The farmer said, “What makes you think it is so terrible?”

    A month later, the horse came home–this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer’s good fortune. Such lovely strong horses! The farmer said, “What makes you think this is good fortune?”

    The farmer’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. Such bad luck! The farmer said, “What makes you think it is bad?”

    A war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg, remained. The neighbors congratulated the farmer. “What makes you think this is good?” said the farmer.

    Only when we connect our feeling to something we give it meaning in are live like “this is good” or “that is bad”

    matthew wrote on December 9th, 2012
  32. I can testify that emotional issues can make one physically sick. I had symptoms of being physically ill, including severe hair loss and acne skin while I was in my 30’s. For 2 years blood tests and other test results showed that there are physically nothing wrong with me. No medication or treatments (for my skin and hair) had any positive results. On top of the physical symptoms, I was depressed, I struggled to control my temper and I couldn’t sleep. Mentally I have dealt with my issues and with all the bad things I have experienced in my life, but obviously on an emotional level I haven’t dealt with it and that was what made me ill. Eventually a pharmacist referred me to a hypnotherapist who helped me to deal with accumulated trauma and stress that I’ve experienced since childhood. It was the best thing that I have done for myself, my marriage and my relationship with my children. It is so worth it to take the responsibility and address the issues that we allow to destruct our lives and our relationships. Often we cannot deal with it on our own. It is not a sign of weakness to get help. It is taking responsibility and giving yourself another chance of living life to its fullest and enjoying it.

    Saret wrote on December 21st, 2012

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