There is no other factor that has more influence over your health. Your body cannot defend itself against the damage that emotional stress quietly creates over time. Your body pays a heavy physiological price for every moment that you feel anxious, tense, frustrated and angry.
There's really no need to provide a list of health conditions that are partly caused by emotional stress, because every health condition is partly caused by emotional stress. Emotional stress always equals increased output by the sympathetic nervous system, which always equals accelerated aging and breakdown of your tissues.
So what can you do to effectively manage emotional stressors in your life and prevent them from creating health problems?
1. Breathe deeply and regularly
Doing so can actually decrease the tone of your sympathetic nervous system and increase the tone of your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the portion of your nervous system that promotes relaxation and good digestion.
2. Spend some quiet time every day in prayer, meditation, or a purposeful relaxation session
All three have been scientifically proven to facilitate a relaxation response in your body that can decrease blood pressure, decrease pulse rate, and improve blood circulation. Meditation and relaxation sessions can be greatly enhanced by listening to any number of audio CDs that are designed to facilitate optimal relaxation and mental clarity.
3. Practice visualization
Almost all great athletes practice some form of visualization. As author Wayne Dyer says, "you'll see it when you believe it." Spend some time each day visualizing yourself going about your day in a balanced and emotionally poised manner. You can include visualization in your prayer/meditation/relaxation session.
4. Make sure that you are getting the nutrients that you need for a healthy nervous system
Your nutritional status can make all the difference between being able to handle a certain amount of stress without breaking down vs. quickly suffering health problems when faced with stress.
While it's important to your overall health that you eat a well balanced and nutrient-dense diet, for emotional health specifically, it is important to ensure adequate intake of B vitamins, Vitamin D, and two long chain Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA.
5. Be honest about your feelings
There's a reason why "know thyself" is a wise proverb/saying in virtually every culture of our world. Striving to know yourself and what you are truly feeling on a daily basis is absolutely essential to preventing unpleasant but genuine emotions from becoming chronic states. Anger, frustration and anxiousness can all help to fuel personal growth and character development if you are honest with yourself and seek to discover their root causes.
One of the best methods I can recommend to increase your awareness of what you are truly feeling is journal writing. The rules are simple: no censorship, no possibility of another set of eyes being able to read your thoughts, just pure flow of thoughts from your mind and heart onto a piece of paper or your computer screen. Regular journal writing in this manner can be extremely beneficial to your emotional health.
6. Move your body
It's a well established fact that regular exercise is one of the best habits you can adopt that will help you avoid depression and stay emotionally balanced. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise you do. What's important is to be active and use your joints and muscles on a regular basis.
Don't make the mistake that many health conscious people make and fret over the percentages of carbs, protein, fat, raw food, and cooked food in your diet while neglecting the emotional stressors in your life.
Yes, eating fresh, nutrient-dense foods is good for your health. But eating fresh, nutrient-dense foods while feeling emotionally balanced and at peace is even better.