Emotions and Illness—What’s the Connection?

People with good emotional health are aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They have learned healthy ways to cope with the stress and problems that are a normal part of life. They feel good about themselves and have healthy relationships.

However, many things that happen in life can disrupt emotional health and lead to strong feelings of sadness, stress or anxiety. Both “bad” and “good” life events can lead to strong emotions. Examples of some of these events may include:

  • Experiencing financial difficulties
  • Getting married or divorced
  • Suffering from an injury or illness
  • Having a child leave or return home
  • Changes in employment
  • Moving to a new home or having a baby

Mind-Body Connection

Our bodies tend to respond to the way that we think, feel and act. This interaction is often called the “mind/body connection.” When we are stressed, anxious or upset, our bodies often try to tell us that something isn’t right by having a physical symptom to get our attention. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Stomachache
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Extreme tiredness


In addition, when we are not feeling well emotionally we are often less likely to feel like exercising, eating nutritious foods or maintaining our other general health habits. All of these things may lead to a decrease in our body’s immune system, which in turn often leads to getting a cold or other infection.  

What Can You Do?

First, try to recognize your emotions and understand why you are experiencing them. Sorting out the root of negative emotions in your life can help you know what to do to improve the situation and manage your emotional health. Next, consider some of the following techniques to improve your emotional health:

1. Express your feelings in appropriate ways.

If feelings of stress, sadness or anxiety are causing physical problems, keeping these feelings inside can make you feel worse. It’s ok to let others know when something is bothering you in a respectful way. Keep in mind that your family and friends may not be able to help you deal with your feelings appropriately and it may be helpful to ask for a counselor, religious leader or friend for advice and support.


2. Take care of yourself.

 In order to feel your best it is important to take care of your body by having a regular routine for eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and exercising to relieve pent-up tension. Avoid overeating, using alcohol or drugs, or any other behaviors that assist in “running away” which could cause further problems or possible addiction.


4. Calm your body and mind.

Finding activities that help you relax such as deep breathing, meditation, taking a bath or taking a walk in nature. They can help you find a healthy release and bring your emotions into balance.

5. Live a balanced life.

While it is important to deal with these negative feelings rather than just “stuffing them,” it is also important to focus on the positive things in life and make time for things that you enjoy! Consider keeping a journal of things you are grateful for or things that help you feel peaceful or happy. You may also need to find ways to let go of some things in your life that make you feel stressed and overwhelmed.


Research provided by Naomi Brower

Saying NO to Others and YES to Yourself

Do you often feel stretched to your limits and yet still struggle to say no? You’re not
alone. As you have probably experienced, saying yes when we really want to say no creates stress and frustration. On the other hand, saying no to the things you don’t want to do means saying YES to things YOU choose to do. Consider the following tips to say no in a respectful and assertive way.

1. Take time before responding.

Especially for anything that will take your time, energy or money. This will give you time to consider if fits with your current priorities and
commitments. Out of respect, provide a specific time for when you will give your

2. Consider your relationship.

How you say no to your boss or family member is going to be very different than how you would say no to a telemarketer.

3. Say no.

The word no has power. Don’t be afraid to use it. If you use phrases such as “I’m not sure” or “I don’t think I can”  they may be interpreted to mean that you might say yes later.

One way to say no, especially to those that you don’t have a close or ongoing relationship
with, is with the broken record technique. In a firm but calm voice say no, without any
excuse or explanation that others may be able to manipulate, and repeat it like a broken
record. This is especially effective with persistent children or people with whom you
don’t have an ongoing relationship.
On the other hand, if the relationship is valuable, after saying no you may want to provide a brief reason or explanation. An explanation is most effective when it is honest and only contains pertinent information, not apologies or long justifications If manipulation begins, use the broken record technique.
Stay strong, and ignore appeals, guilt playing, and button pushing. Remember, if you give
in after several times of saying no it teaches others that you will eventually give in if they
push hard enough.

4. Seek for a win/win.

If you want to say yes, but not to the whole request, you may want to negotiate what you are willing to do or offer a suggestion that will work for both of you. Even though you may be saying no when others would prefer you were saying yes, you can still maintain and build relationships by offering a win/win situation for both parties.

If you aren’t used to saying no, realize that those around you might not like it when you do. Over time, they will likely learn to accept it and may even respect you for it. Also keep in mind that when you expect others to respect you when you say no, you should respect them when they say no as well.

Research provided by Naomi Brower


Luskin, F. & Pelletier, K. R. (2005). Stress-free for good: 10 scientifically proven life skills for health and happiness. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

The Mayo Clinic. (2016, April 23). When to say no. Retrieved from:


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