Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 29 2012

The Physical Toll of Negative Emotions

By Mark Sisson
173 Comments

Living 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?

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173 thoughts on “The Physical Toll of Negative Emotions”

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  1. Great post Mark! I have been battling depression, anxiety, and PTSD for years. The physical manifestations of pain, tense muscles, and lack of sleep are truly horrible and have a negative effect on well being. Every major treatment breakthrough is accompanied by a reduction in those physical symptoms alongside what are typically consider the “mental” ones.

    It takes some people years to get where they want to be physically through diet and exercise.. and it also can take a very long time to address the brain dysfunctions many of us face.

    1. Good luck with your battle against depression, anxiety and PTSD. It sounds like you are well on your way to recovering. It is both amazing and scary that our mood can affect our body and our health. I am fascinated that our emotions can impact our inflammation and even our epigenetics.

      1. Not to mention, our body can affect our mood and emotional health. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and that often translates into lack of exercise and eating poorly, which then causes more anxiety and depression, which causes…

        It’s a vicious downward spiral, and sometimes it’s tough to get off the roller coaster.

  2. I have always tried to be a glass half full kind of guy. Look at the positive side of life instead of the negative. I have long thought that it has had an impact on my life from the perspective of how people treat each other. If I act happy and optimistic then people want to be around me and do favors for me but if I am just complaining all the time and seem depress then people would want to get away from me because my negative feelings will bring them down.

    The way I stay happy and excited all the time is I try to focus on the one thing in my life that is going the best at that moment and brush off whatever is not going my way. Maybe I lost thousands of dollars in the stock market but I have had a good day on my website and gotten lots of traffic. I focus on my website that day and try not to think about all the money I lost.

    1. I love your attitude Wayne.

      Let’s all appreciate what’s going well, and fix what’s not going so well (if we can) or simply accept it and move on (if we can’t). 🙂

  3. What a fantastic and inspiration post. Great way to start my day and just what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  4. Good reminder. Easier said than done though. Personally, I am increasingly doing things to get in a better state of mind. Yet, looking realistically at the world, I think it’s completely hopeless.

    1. You’re the farmer, I remember your comments from the other day. I did depression and hopelessness for YEARS and possibly the average person would understand why. But the more I learn the more I realise I’m not responsible for the world, just my place in it, which has become more exhilarating with time, and my enthusiasm for my place has started to impact those around me. There are a LOT of numbskulls out there, they have their place too.
      Personally I’m getting out of the city and taking responsibility for my family’s food source. I’d like to sell it like you do one day. If you can, I can, and one day someone will realise if I can (of all people) they can too. I want to be in a genuine community (not that I don’t love this cyberspace business). It’s where I’ve placed my hope for the future. I think it’ll be bloody hard work, but it’s sound in theory and eventually practice too.

  5. Being vulnerable and admitting my failures to myself has always been a challenging part of my life, yet is always incredibly rewarding.

    1. Check out Brene Brown on youtube or TED.com Vulnerability and then the follow up Shame piece.

      Really spoke to me.

  6. Soul Sucking is an excellent phrase to describe modern life in general. We have been so far removed from playing natures game that we are caught up in some man made economic nightmare reminiscent of the Saw movies.

    1. The world has *always* been soul sucking. Imagine watching helplessly as children die (because there are no hospitals), or to be caught in generations of slavery or living your lifetime under oppressive governments (because democracy had been invented yet).

      The difference between then and now is an awesome set of technology and a whole lot more time to navel gaze. We live in an age of the everyday miracle and ironically might be more collectively unhappy about it.

  7. I really needed this today. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for two years and it’s getting harder and harder to stay positive (especially when everyone around me is falling pregnant with ease!). It’s a daily battle to focus on the present and appreciate everything I have, rather than giving into despair every month.

    1. For what it’s worth Callie, I’m with you here. We are in the same boat on all fronts. I wish you the best!

    2. Callie, my heart goes out to you.

      I went through the same thing. For 2 years I watched everyone around me get pregnant no problem. Stay as positive as you can…I truly believe the stress of not conceiving can have a detrimental effect on your health…but I know it’s hard. I

      ‘m sure you’ve probably already been through many tests, I had been too with no concrete answers, but I know now there were autoimmune issues that most likely contributed to conception issues (I had gestational diabetes, had thyroid flare-ups during pregnancy, and was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s after my first baby was born). For me ovulation was the biggest problem and I think that got better after I worked really hard to get the bad foods and excess estrogen (soy, hormones in meat and dairy, etc.) out of my diet, and even gave up caffeine…being that you’re here I’m sure you are already on this path. Even now my cycles are off if I am not strict Primal/Paleo…it’s best when I follow the Paleo autoimmune protocol.

      I wish you the best of luck. Hang in there!

    3. Be sure to check out Chris Kresser’s Healthy Baby Code. He and his wife had a lot of trouble and this program was built from his effort to solve that problem personally.

      1. Thanks all, your support means a lot 🙂 @Jenna I have endometriosis so I turned to paleo to deal with those nasty hormonal issues. Been doing fertility awareness and acupuncture for a while now too and I’m seeing small, but steady, improvements. It’s a journey and I know I’m on the right track – can only wait and hope. @Jen will check out the Healthy Baby Code, thanks! @Michele, good luck to you too, you’re in my prayers!

        1. My best friend was in the same boat and my heart goes out to you. She put a lot of pressure on herself which makes it harder but seems unavoidable 🙁 She tried everything: fertility tea, yoga, etc the month she added Omega 3s, acupuncture, and had been gluten free for 3 months, she finally got pregnant! Shes about 4 months along and doing well. I am sure you will have good news soon. Keep doing what you are doing and remind yourself your time will come

        2. A few more resources for you: check out Arvigo Techniques of Mayan Abdominal Therapy and find a practitioner if you can. Many women find this very helpful- there can be scarring and adhesions from endometriosis and this type of deep gentle massage can help. Also, the book Woman Code by Alisa Vitti.

    4. Hey Callie, much love to you. My wife and I tried for five years before we were able to conceive. It’s a long and difficult road, and one that can be very lonely.

      1. Thank you John, so much. It IS lonely but then I come on here and hear from people like yourself.

        Having said that, if I see another friend parading their bump on facebook, I’m going to hurl the computer out the window 🙂

  8. As a trapeze artist working towards being a professional, I have training days (or weeks) that just aren’t good. My performance is off, I can’t get a trick, my strength is lacking, you name it. At the end of every day, I tell myself what one of the top circus performers told my friend: I am good enough. Today may have been a bad day, I can always be better, but, good or bad, my training does not reflect on who I am as a person. Who I am is good enough. And I am so thankful to be able to do what I do: gratitude trumps all.

    1. I think this habit is awesome! And definitely something most people could probably stand to do every day. Funny how when you get to know people…there are so many that are filled with self doubt, and think they are not good enough.

      I love the use of the word ‘thriving’ throughout MDA…and think this a perfect article/application of the word.

    2. You know what? I think you have just hit a very true point. Modern living is all about being first, the best, on top, the perfect house, garden, kids, car, ripped abs. There is nothing wrong with being second, third or even right up there, or in the middle of the pack.
      So much angst and negative energy surrounds trying to strive for unrealistic, media imposed goals when being generally good enough, with flashes of brilliance is much more sustainable.
      Thank you for your post, I know perfectionists that are paralyzed by their need to have every duck in a line before starting something, it can ruin lives and relationships.

      1. “Flashes of brilliance”- I love the imagery that conjures. That is exactly what those moments are: going through each day, doing this, doing that.. and then all of a sudden, you have an epiphany, or this incredible idea, this urge to do something. And when it happens, it’s magic.

  9. Great thoughts to start the day for sure! Gotta let it go or it plagues you forever…. something I’ve struggled with and slowly been able to put into practice the last couple years.

  10. Mark, this is my favourite of all your posts that I’ve read. While changes in diet can help heal our physical ills, no one even feels really good unless they’re in a good place emotionally. Thank you!

    1. This mirrors exactly the comment i was going to leave! I love this post – not too preachy, not too whimsical. Particularly like the idea of taking responsibility. It does take work and is harder than you think! 🙂

    2. I have bookmarked this page so that I can refer to it in the future when I get bogged down in negative emotions.

      I also try to realize that all things will pass–both the good and not so good. That helps when times are hard and also prepares me for tougher times ahead.

  11. Wow, quite an eye opener. I have been coping with significant work and relationship stress for about 6 months, and in that time, my will to maintain my diet and exercise regimen has waned. My fitness is down, and my fatness is up. I should have recognized these symptoms long ago.

  12. Nice post, and useful reminder for me. I try to stay positive, but it’s hard with employers everywhere wanting more and more from fewer and fewer people, and the threat of redundancy (being laid off) always there. (I am glad I am employed, of course – see I’m putting the message into practice!)

    As Mark Twain once said, I’ve seen many troubles in my day – and some of them actually happened.

  13. I clicked over to MDA after reading distressing headlines at a news site, receiving an email about further dramatic climate changes and impending doom, and discussing my brother-in-law’s apparent depression with my husband. I needed a pick me up and that is exactly what MDA always gives me!

    With my smattering of knowledge of psychology, I would argue that the personal responsibility Mark speaks of is another way of talking about control. While we cannot control our genetics, as Mark points out, we can control — read, “take responsibility for” — what we do with it. And with enough knowledge, we can be pretty smart about how we choose to exert control over our well-being.

    Every time I visit MDA, I receive a precious emotional gift from Mark: a feeling of gaining control. I have a lot of “education” in physiology and pathology, but Mark gives me knowledge I can apply to my everyday life and exert some control over my destiny.

    Feeling in control of our lives is key to feeling good in general. Psychologists talk in terms of “locus of control”. Mark has let me put the locus of control for my health, happiness and well-being squarely in my hands, and I have never had a better, more optimistic attitude toward life.

    Having dumped CW and adopted PB, I have more energy to face the challenges of the day, I can concentrate better than I have in years, I get more done with less anxiety, I have less to feel guilty about because I get more done and I also have more time and energy left over to take walks, play golf, read good books, play with the beasties, go out to concerts, cook fabulous meals to share with the people I care about and generally take better care of the primal me.

    Thanks Mark!

    1. Sounds to me like you’re high on life through joy (not control). 😉

      1. For me, it is the sense of control that makes me “high on life”. I’m a scientist by training and a perfectionist by nature, so being in control is important to me. Before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I had no control over my energy levels or many other aspects of my health. The diagnosis put control back in my hands, as I worked with my doctor to get the right Synthroid dose (quite high).

        Before finding PB, while following CW, I was not in control of my weight or much else about my well-being. I was doing what was supposed to be good for me and gaining weight and getting sicker. Learning how to guide my lifestyle decisions according to what my human genes expect of me (i.e., discovering PB) put the control back in my hands. Now I have confidence that I can continue to improve my health every day by following Mark’s recommendations. Every change I have made over the past year has increased my sense of control. And of course, since I feel better physically, I am much more resilient to what the world throws my way.

      2. To be clear, when you feel like you are not in control, you tend to give up and resign yourself to bad health. For me, between the thyroid condition, the weight, achy joints and other annoying but minor health issues, I was resigned to feeling worse as time went on. That is a very depressing state of affairs and depression was an issue for me, even after getting on Synthroid. So was anxiety about my health and the future, so was guilt about not getting as much done as I thought was expected of me. All of those problems have vanished.

    2. “I clicked over to MDA after reading distressing headlines at a news site, receiving an email about further dramatic climate changes and impending doom, and discussing my brother-in-law’s apparent depression with my husband.”

      I’m hoping this thought won’t turn into anything too bad but..I’d like to offer some hope on the “dramatic climate changes” front. It may just be possible that “dramatic climate changes” are just “ordinary climate changes” with a very old fashioned dash of “the world is ending” spiciness thrown in. To repeat another poster – “As Mark Twain once said, I’ve seen many troubles in my day – and some of them actually happened.” This might be one that can be let go of as a “completely out my control” worry.

      1. I know a bit too much of the ins and outs of climate change to let myself off the hook completely on this score. Every choice I make as a consumer has a potential impact on the climate. And every week that goes by without sufficient government response to climate change affects my life, the life of our kids and grandkids very directly. I do worry about the planet my grandkids are going to inherit. It is not out of my control: I do my best to make good choices for their future and my own. Having a primal lifestyle helps me do this.

      2. I so agree with you Amy. Climate change discussions are not a “conspiracy” by any means, but a worry that has taken on a life of it’s own and never seem to be in the context of what might be purely natural happenings.

    3. Awesome to hear your reaping the rewards! I’ve had quite a few clients have mental gains from going Primal! (reduced anxiety and depression, im sure the exercise was part of it too).

      Your post made me think of this quote I think??? by Robert Waldo Emerson: Man is not effected by events but how he percieves them.

      Sure somethings are going to cause a response that ins’t quite controllable (losing a child etc) but many things are. Whether it’s losing my temper, getting frustrated whatever its crucial to be able to step back and have that “control” as you put it, and decide is this event really worth getting upset?

      1. The Serenity Prayer is trite but useful in this regard. Knowing what we can change is similar to knowing what we can control. I am not a believer, so I don’t put things in God’s hands, but I do recognize that lots of things are not in my control. But with PB, I have taken back control over many aspects of my life. I will always be grateful to Mark for that.

    4. I recently put myself on a total news blackout. I’m loving it! A friend of mine who is a UU minister has been doing it for years. It gives him a lot more energy to focus his energies on actually helping the people around him. It’s amazing how LITTLE of what passes for news actually affects my life in any way. I don’t think Primal man was deluged with information from around the globe. For me, going Primal is about simplifying, and I’m finding that this news emargo is setting me free. It was a little scary at first, and it required a bit of a leap of faith, but I have to say that my focus and my serenity have improved dramatically.

      1. Exactly. Example is Hurricane Sandy. I heard about and saw just enough news to understand that this was significant, and to check on loved ones I had concerns about. Then I sent money and took advantage of my company’s fund matching to enhance that gift. Beyond that, I do not allow the horrors to provide any entertainment. Just enough info to determine what I can do about it to help, how to apply lessons learned. I guess the various coverage is useful for giving enormity, but people individually invest too many hours of their own watching beyond info-gathering to do them or the world any good, I think. This sounds self-righteous, but I hope that I’m conveying instead how to make the news something useful and empowering and how to prevent it from bringing down our hearts and our honor. It’s not nice to watch others suffering and suffering and suffering for hours while just wringing hands and saying, “Isn’t that awful…”

        1. I don’t think you sound self-righteous. It’s all about recognizing that so many of the world’s problems have nothing to do with me. It’s actually self-righteous (as well as self-important and self-centered) to think that I’m involved in everything going on in the world. I’m really not–even though I can easily delude myself into believing I am.

        2. +1

          We shut off the news a long time ago. There’s a limit to what one person’s nervous system can handle. There’s very little to absolutely nothing I can do about 95% of what passes for news. If there’s nothing I can do, then I need to give my brain some protection from unnecessary stress and the cortisol that goes with it.

          Ironically I’ve discovered that when I get mental stressed, I find myself seeking out news sites as a temporary distraction. Which unsurprisingly, makes the problem worse. I’m still working on that problem. 😉

      2. Did this years ago and boy, what a refreshing way to view the world. If I’m about to be exposed to so-called ‘news’ now I turn the radio off or leave the shop. It irritates me more than anything.

      3. +1

        I did a lot of translating work for a psychologist a few years ago. Very pop-psych, but still useful in some ways. One of her little analogies was that our mind was like a bank account: a good experience makes a deposit in our mental well-being account, a bad experience makes a withdrawal. To feel capable of coping, we need to make sure that we have plenty of deposits and not too many withdrawals.

        And the mind does not distinguish well between what it perceives in the real concrete world around us and what it perceives from our television screens. For our minds, watching the news, with all the horrific images of war, disaster and misery, is like living the situation ourselves. People who never set foot in NYC were traumatized by 9/11, just by watching the 24/7 television coverage.

        We have not had TV service in our house for about three years now. Our set is used for watching DVDs only. Even then, I avert my eyes whenever there is a disturbing scene. I can feel my body react and I don’t want to subject it to ongoing horror and terror.

        Remember Dr. Norman Cousins and the laughter cure for cancer? Laughter therapy has gained a lot of credibility over the years. Well, watching horrific scenes is like the opposite of that: for me, it puts my body in a crisis state completely gratuitously.

  14. Great post. Awesome read to start the day. This is one of the life changing realizations that I came to, along with the primal blueprint, I feel like a new person.

  15. Check out the book “A Complaint Free World” it really highlights how much attitude really matters.

  16. A Road Less Traveled is my favorite book for helping me think clearly and put things into perspective.

    Dr Peck has so many great nuggets on life and how the brain goes sideways at times.

  17. This was an excellent post! Thank you for the time you spend helping all of us on this journey. In my 15 months of eating primally, I have found that my “crazy” has really diminished. I have always been ultra sensitive, defensive and quick to be the injured party in any interaction (don’t you wish you knew me back then?) I truly believe that removing toxic foods has helped heal my brain, body- and relationships.

  18. Great post! We can’t always control everything that happens to us, but we can control our attitude about the issue, which makes a huge difference in our health and life in general.

  19. I can relate to this but I do think it depends a lot on what type of person you are. I analyse far too much, often assume the worse and can build up resentment and anxiety over things I have over thought. I really like Wayne’s take on things though, concentrate on what is going well and appreciate what you have rather than dwelling on what you don’t

  20. Fantastic post today! In my own journey to increase my responsibility for my own health and happiness, I am currently going through many life changes. Among them are learning how to communicate my emotions and needs in a non-confrontational and effective way. “Using my words” was something I never learned to do when I was a kid with unmet needs, so naturally many of my issues as an adult stem from not knowing how to pay attention to my own needs. Also I am going through a divorce. While it has been very exhausting, as we get further through the process I am able to find more joy in life because of a newfound ability to “let it go” and be no longer hold myself accountable for my spouse’s happiness.

    Another timely post. And more great vomments from the MDA community. Yay.

  21. After a recent health scare while eating almost completely primal, I’ve come to realize how futile it is to put your faith in the way that you tend to your body physically. For many, primal is a way to ensure a long, vibrant life free of many of the plagues of modern life. But you can follow it religiously and still die of a heart attack at 50; that’s just reality.
    So what started as a physical illness for me was horribly exacerbated by stress and anxiety (which I have never experienced before) because for the time I lost the emotional clout to see the reality of the situation and became sure that I must be suffering from some chronic disease. As soon as the physical went out, the emotional quickly followed and made it all worse. As soon as the emotional came back and stopped worrying, the physical quickly came back.
    Don’t let health be your god. It will only lead to disappointment. To paraphrase the old saying, it’s better to eat the wrong things with the right attitude than to eat the right things with the wrong attitude. Building your house on health is like building it on sand. It would serve better as an ornament to beautify your home, but not to hold it together.

    1. In essence, mental and spiritual health are far more important than physical. Physical health is necessary, but not the most important.

    2. Yike! I just did one of these myself. Mild illness + escalating stress & anxiety + obsessing over health = imaginary deadly disease.
      Not coincidentally I had stopped my daily meditation discipline while sick because I felt crummy and it wasn’t ‘perfect.’ I couldn’t concentrate worth a damn. Went in the wrong direction there. What a spiral.
      I am somewhat chagrined but – lesson learned. (I hope!!)

  22. Oh god, that is me Jimmy B! I DO think eating primally will fend off all that life throws at me but it’s my negative attitude to so much that makes me unhappy and I totally agree that mental and spiritual health is so important. It really is mind over matter.

  23. I just was writing in my MDA journal yesterday about self image. I struggle with anxiety and an unstable self image. It is interesting what impact negative thoughts can have on ones life. I mean what are we all living for anyway? I live to be happy, and help others be happy, hopefully with my education I will be able to help others gain skills they did not have before.

    I guess I need to look deep and figure out what I need to let go- wish it was easier

  24. This definitely resonates for me as a college student – papers, exams, and readings seem endless and I often have too much stress!!! I definitely notice the physical manifestations sometimes: headache, muscle tension, etc. What really helped me handle stress this semester was treating my work as a reward in itself. I tried to find it fun, enjoyable, and even a form of “play” to learn and write papers. Also, I stopped focusing on extrinsic things like grades QUITE so much and simply focused on learning as much as I can in the semester. With exam week nearly upon me, this post was VERY TIMELY and hugely helpful for me 🙂

  25. Great read! As a Christian, I adhere to biblical principles of the mind. I “order” my mind, if you will, to think on things that are virtuous, uplifting, pure, etc. I also think of my eternal place with the Lord (which makes the issues of this world very small in comparison). Just my thoughts. I know not everyone believes this way, and some might even bash such thinking, but wanted to share.

    nate

    1. Your comment makes me think of Matthew 6:21. I think it can be applied to anything we treasure, not just money. Like the verse at the bottom of the shake cups at In-N-Out Burger (my sons love these from time to time) says…Proverbs 3:5. Many blessings to you!

  26. This dovetails nicely with what Sean Croxton has been taking about this week as well. The mind is a powerful tool… Negative thoughts can make you sick and positive thoughts can heal you!

    I personally had a weight lifted off my shoulders yesterday and when I closed my eyes to go to sleep last night it was the most peace I’d felt in a while.

  27. Thanks for this post, Mark! I think this subject is really important and often overlooked. I know that several studies have suggested that our feelings about our body sizes are actually more predictive of health outcomes than our body sizes themselves (which might suggest that a good part of the health impacts we do see of fatness might be more properly attributes to the social stigma attached to fatness), and would be interested to hear your take on that idea.

  28. Mark- such a great post! I am a doctoral student in clinical psychology and absolutely loved the message of this post. Something to add to this is working on not absorbing other people’s stress, drama, and pain. Some people are extremely sensitive to the energies of other people and can take on their stress. It is important to set up good boundaries with these people in your life and make sure to take notice when you are beginning to internalize other people’s emotional stress. Thanks for the amazing website! It inspires me daily, not only in my personal life, but in my work in understanding how good nutrition impacts mental health symptoms.

  29. I’ve been trying to get my 62-year-old partner to retire already. His job is killing him. And his bad moods are killing me. “More” isn’t worth it, but I can’t seem to get him to see it. Neither can the legions of retired friends who say they should have done it 15 years earlier than they did persuade him. Sigh.

  30. If todays artical on negative emotions, especially how to heal from them on a conscious and unconscious level (I know that is a really big claim to make) interests you, I highly recommend that you go to amazon.com and read the reviews on a book called “the healing code”, very interesting and powerful presentation of information on health and emotions and how to heal/recover on many levels. Don’t take my word for it, check out the testamonials/reviews on the book at amazon.

  31. I’ve been reading MDA for a while but had to comment (for the first time) on this post. I LOVE this Mark. It rings so true.. especially the lines “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” and “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.”

    I’ve been following your primal plan for a month or so now, but have spent 2012 taking charge of my health, focussing on food choices and weights, and I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds in the process.

    I look amazing (so I keep getting told) but the biggest change has been to my mental health. This time last year I was struggling with depression, a ton of negative self talk, and was verging on a drinking problem. Today I’m swinging from the trees! Thank you so much!

  32. As someone who is in a counseling program, I found this article to be fantastic. However, the last statement that counselors tell patients to nip it in the bud is a little false. Everything depends on where the client is in life and what the situation is. Every client is different, thus saying we can simply learn to let go is not always easy. If you do feel like your negative thoughts are keeping you from having a fulfilling life I urge you to seek counseling to work through those things. Simply trying to work on them on your own is not always the answer. Just wanted to put that out there. Thank you Mark for this article, I truly enjoyed it and hope people do become interested not only in their physical but mental health as well.

  33. Your last paragraph about evaluating your relationships, career, and cutting out the repetitive negative patterns is the best advice. Super timely – I find THIS IS THE BEST TIME OF YEAR FOR SELF-EVALUATION & CHANGE. The dawning of a new year is an ideal opportunity to embark upon lasting transformations. A year ago my resolution was to follow The Primal Blueprint principles, a year later never better!!

  34. Great post. This is so true. So many “use” food to avoid the real feelings or issues that need to be processed properly. We can’t forgot what a huge role mental health plays on overall wellness. Thanks for the post!

  35. A very timely post which resonates with me. Depression is something I’m battling with at the moment.
    A lot of people say “don’t dwell on the past, look to the future”.
    This doesn’t help when the future is looking grim for you. My tactic is to take one day at a time. I look for the good on the day and be happy and optimistic for that day- its like a mission. I’m finding it helps and time isn’t wasted thinking about the past or the future.
    If you’ve got a past which makes you feel down and your future is looking bleak I suggest to try it. You may find it liberating.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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!

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. +1…Well said to Christina, Stacie…I was thinking just the same thing to write to her…

  43. 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 🙂

  44. Mark, this is so true that our physical and emotional and mental health is intertwined. Definitely our stresses affect our physical health.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

    1. “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.”

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

  52. 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.

    1. “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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.?”

        1. 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.

      3. 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.

    3. 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.

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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….

  59. 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!!

  60. Thank you Mark!! I treasure your hard work and information.

  61. 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.

  62. 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!

  63. 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”

  64. 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.