Our body expresses feelings we have repressed If we store away rather than deal with negative emotions, they can manifest as physical tension and health problems, including headaches, ulcers, IBS and more serious illnesses from cancer to cardiovascular disease. Extreme emotions affect your heart function, depress the immune system and inhibit digestion. To achieve true physical and psychological health, these underlying emotions need to be fully expressed, so that we can then learn from our experiences and move forward. The most common difficult emotions are shades of anger, fear or sadness. Sadness is usually associated with regrets, losses and the loss of opportunities in the past. Anger is associated with not having our needs met, not being listened to, or not being understood. And fear often comes from not being able to adapt to the circumstances we are in and is associated with the fear of our loss of our sense of self; for example, the fear of going mad or dying.
How can you move on? The first step – that of recognising and acknowledging how you really feel – isn’t easy, and good counsellors and good friends can help you. As King Lear says in Shakespeare’s play, “Who is it who can see me and tell me who I am?” It’s incredibly helpful to find someone who you trust who sees you for who you are. In my latest book, The Feel Good Factor, I share some tips for how to find a good psychotherapist or counselor. One way to work through your thoughts on your own is to try free association journaling. To do this, set aside exactly 20 minutes a day, ideally in the morning, when you can just write down whatever comes into your mind non-stop for 20 minutes. You’ll often be surprised by what comes out, which will help you to realise the real issues fuelling any low moods. Another approach, now widely practiced by psychotherapists in one form or another, is called MBT – mindfulness behavioural therapy. This can be very effective in helping you to find your way back to your true sense of self by allowing you to witness your thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, thereby allowing them to transform.
There’s growing evidence not only that this approach is highly effective, but also that developing mindfulness actually changes brainwave patterns towards alpha and theta waves, which are consistent with a more relaxed and creative way of being. Again, I explain this in more detail in my book, The Feel Good Factor, plus a whole range of other techniques and approaches to helping you accept and move through your moods to achieve greater contentment in your life. A 10-step approach to feeling good As well as looking at emotional health, The Feel Good Factor explores biochemical and nutritional solutions to finding happiness and wellbeing. Despite being released only a few weeks ago, it’s already become the number one best-seller in Ireland and is now in its second print run. To order your copy, click here. And if you join my 100% Health Club, you’ll receive a 20% discount on the cover price during the month of March, as well as receiving many other member benefits.