How a Negative Mood Affects Your Health (and How to Fix It)
Moodiness from time to time is to be expected. But, what if your negative mood is no longer an occasional thing and turns into a negative outlook on life?
The truth is, a consistently negative mood can affect your health. But, the good news is that there are ways to fix your negativity to transform your life for the better.
The Science Behind Negative Emotions
First of all, it’s important to distinguish between emotions and feelings, although they are definitely intertwined.
Emotions are deeper than feelings. They come from the brain’s amygdala, and they’re your body’s way of responding to your environment. Think fight or flight.
Emotions are easier to measure because they manifest in the body through physical cues like blood flow, pupil dilation, facial expressions, etc.
Feelings, on the other hand, are our reactions to those emotions. They’re more subjective, and we’re more in control of how we feel about an emotion. Common feelings might include anger, disgust, happiness, or excitement.
While some emotions and feelings are labeled as “negative,” it’s important to realize that all emotions are normal and necessary. They help protect us.
Negative emotions like fear and sadness are actually useful. These emotions tell us when we’re in a potentially unsafe situation, and we need to change our circumstances. By letting our emotions affect our mood and how we feel, we can wind up with an overall negative outlook.
So, by regulating our feelings towards our emotions, we can change our moods and reframe our perceptions.
Negativity Affects Your Mind AND Body
When you start to feel negatively towards your emotions, there’s a huge risk to your mind and body.
Bottling your emotions doesn’t make them go away. They’ll just end up manifesting in a much more harmful way. You’ll start to see that negative mood come through in your body.
When we feel embarrassed, we get a pit in our stomachs. When we’re heartbroken, we feel it in our chest. A stressful day at work can make your neck and back feel sore and painful. These aren’t coincidences.
When we repress our emotions instead of accepting them and working through them, they manifest in our bodies.
And this negativity can affect your workouts too. You’ll literally experience less range of motion, not to mention more aches and pains that make exercise harder to bear.
Plus, when you’re exercising less due to this bodily stress, you won’t be experiencing the mood-boosting benefits of exercise. It’s a vicious cycle that’s difficult to get out of.
Your Negative Mood Affects Others, Too
Not only does your negativity affect your mind and body, but it affects those around you as well. Negativity tends to give us tunnel vision, and we might not always see the effect we have on those around us.
And not only that, we should be careful about the people we have around us because in the first place, as the saying goes, misery loves company.
3 Tips for More Positive Thinking
So, how can we incorporate more positive thinking into our lives?
1. Change Your Environment
Now, we’re not necessarily talking about your physical surroundings. Although a clean home and safe space can certainly help improve our mood.
Instead, pay attention to the people around you. If you surround yourself with negative people, there’s a higher chance that you’ll have a negative outlook on life as well. After all, you’re a combination of the five people you spend the most time with, right?
If you genuinely want to change your mood, you may need to cull your friend list.
2. Interrupt Harmful Self-Talk
Another helpful tool is to practice interrupting harmful self-talk. But the first step is to improve your self-awareness.
Meditation can help. With meditation, you’ll be getting better at noticing your thoughts and feelings. The better you get, the more you’ll start to see any unhelpful patterns in your everyday life.
Then, you can start interrupting these negative thought patterns with more positive reframes. Use a mantra or affirmation when you notice negative thoughts creep in.
Say things to yourself like, “Feelings are neither good nor bad,” or “I am worthy regardless of my thoughts.”
3. Avoid Labeling Your Emotions
One of the main reasons we get into a negative mood is because we’re labeling our emotions versus allowing them to come and go. Because remember, negative emotions aren’t always bad.
For example, when you label anxiety as bad, you might start to feel irritated about being anxious.
Instead, you can notice that you’re feeling anxious, take a moment to understand why you might be feeling that way, and either accept it or take the necessary steps to relieve your anxiety.
Our emotions are simply signs from our body and brain that something is out of balance. They’re not something to try and push away or avoid. After all, there might be an important reason for the emotion.
Are you feeling stuck in a negativity spiral? Try switching up your environment, interrupting harmful thought patterns, and reframing how you label your emotions.