Nutrition experts like telling us that we are what we eat, but residents of Manchester and elsewhere might be surprised to know that the same is true for our moods and emotions: we are what we feel.
We’re not going to go too deep within serious psychology and physiology to discuss quantities of brain chemistry, but it’s safe to say that our emotions, negative and positive, are known to exert influences on our physical and mental health. Keeping this in mind can be useful whether someone is receiving palliative care or traditional care.
Employees at Above and Beyond Home Health Care work with patients who have experienced every type of mood, depending on the day and their particular health conditions and lifestyle.
We’re always happy to work with everyone anytime, and we understand and appreciate that there are many reasons for people to have good days sometimes and reasons for them to have less-than-good days other times.
After all, many of our patients have mental or physical health conditions that require in-home care. The conditions aren’t serious enough to require more advanced care in an advanced living facility, but they still may not always be happy at their current circumstances.
Some might be unhappy at recent changes in their body and mind. Others might miss loved ones who have moved away or who have passed away. They may have regrets about their past or uncertainty about the future.
All of these feelings can combine to make people feel unhappy sometimes about their current situation.
From an emotional point of view, this is fair and honest but unhappiness can actually impact you physically whatever form it takes.
Anger and sadness are often common feelings. Both are separate moods and emotions but they can both affect you physically and mentally.
Some research has shown that anger can even be more damaging, especially to seniors.
Science Daily reports that anger can cause more inflammation than sadness. Inflammation is an immune response that’s connected to pain and other diseases in the body. The article discussed a recent study in Montreal, Canada, that followed 200 subjects between the ages of 59 and 93.
Each one was asked to write their mood and their health conditions three times during a week. They also had their blood drawn and analyzed several times during this period.
The preliminary research found that those who reported anger more often had higher markers for inflammation than other participants who reported other moods.
Another look at this study showed that among those who reported more anger, there were higher amounts of inflammation and chronic illness for people 80 or higher than the seniors who were less than 80.
Sadness on the other hand didn’t seem to be connected to inflammation or chronic illness in this particular study.
Mental health officials aren’t saying to eliminate all anger; there are times when it does seem to be an appropriate emotion to motivate yourself to try harder or push back against other people’s anger. But the indication that health problems may accelerate the older you are and the longer you have your anger could be seen as concerning.
Role of other moods
If anger and sadness may affect the body in a negative way, what can be done if someone has plenty of reasons for both moods?
The first thing some experts suggest is finding ways to forgive the reasons for the anger, whether it’s forgiving the person you’re angry at or yourself. This doesn’t have to be anything formal or even spiritually binding, but just an occasion for you to say “I’m trying to let go some of this pain and resentment.”
Studies have shown that trying to remove this pain can lead to a stronger immune system, better relationships and less anxiety.
If you go further into alternatives to anger and sadness, you’ll find that happiness, joy and optimism can do much better things for your body.
Feelings of happiness are connected to less inflammation, less pain and a better outlook on life. Some studies even show that happiness in seniors can be linked to better memory and better ability to cope with and adapt to changes.
Even activities like exercise produce endorphins, which are chemicals that make you feel good. Laughter itself can have all sorts of physical and mental value: it creates its own sets of endorphins, it causes your muscles in your face and chest to expand and contract, promotes healing and makes life a little more bearable.
If you’re worried that it’s too late in life to change your attitude, don’t be. Mental health experts say that it can be an extended process to learn ways let go of past resentments and focus on the better things in life. But the process of doing so is often worth the journey.
Even though National Attitude Day just took place on June 5, there are still plenty of personal ways to get started, from seeking spiritual resources to joining a support group to finding a low-impact physical-mental activity like yoga or tai chi. Mental health practitioners in your community can also offer suggestions on how to get started and move forward.