We can say with absolute certainty that our body itself is the exponent of our mental state. Both of them coexist with an enviable balance, and our body imprints what exists within our mental world. Unpleasant mental states such as distress, melancholy, and misery affect negatively our body, and appear with painful and often unpleasant bodily symptoms.
Hippocrates, the father of Medicine, wrote centuries ago a phrase that conveys within it one of the greatest truths: “Distress is the source of all diseases“.
Studying the effects of distress on basic organs of our body we can report some bad consequences of distress:
- Heart: Great distress can lead to arrhythmia in the heart, increased pressure, intense discomfort. The power of distress is so great that it can even cause a heart attack.
- Digestive System: Distress causes many stomach disorders, from intense belly ache and constipation, to the most extreme form of gastrorrhagia.
- Thyroid: Distress strikes too much the thyroid, the largest gland that exists in our body, and regulates the functions of our body. Affecting its function leads to various diseases.
- Lungs: Distress strikes a lot our respiratory system, our lungs. It has been found that people with respiratory diseases have experienced ugly and strained conditions.
- Skin: Skin is perhaps the easiest “victim” of distress. Bad mood affects our skin more than anywhere else since skin diseases, redness, eczema, and dermatitis are mostly due to distress or anxiety.
- Hair: Our hair is affected as well by distress with a known symptom of hair loss and decreased quality.
Distress really weakens the defenses of our body. It has been found that heart attack and stroke are associated with great distress most of the time (people who mourned, for example, because of the loss of a loved one were more likely to suffer one). Poor interpersonal relationships, economic problems, difficult daily routines, and professional or emotional disappointments intensify our distress most of the time.
How can a person protect oneself, one’s own life?
- By adopting a lifestyle that avoids habits that have been shown to be detrimental to our health. Smoking, drinking, and unhealthy diet often intensify the swelling of the problem. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, good nutrition, sports and engaging in sports, and adequate sleep help make us feel attractive, beautiful, and help maintain our health.
- By not loading all desires and wants of others. Many times distress results from the finding that we can not satisfy – and it is reasonable – the wishes of all, and perhaps we feel, erroneously, that we fear that others will withdraw their love. Children often feel sorry because they feel they can not meet the expectations of their parents, an unemployed person can feel sorry because he can not meet his needs. By clarifying within us our needs and wants and the fact that we cannot satisfy everyone, we are eliminating from us the distress and guilts that arise from the burden of not fulfilling the expectations of others.
- By not enlarging with our minds various situations, without having – as is often the case – awareness of reality and of all events. By knowing the truth of a situation, without exaggerating and making scenarios of destruction, we reduce distress.
- By accepting that some situations do not change. A bad separation, a loss, a failure in the exams sooner or later will make an appearance in every person’s life. The distress for something that may not change is both destructive and unnecessary. Let each man consider what a painful situation can teach him. Acceptance, many times, is a medicine.
- By moving away from toxic people. People who do not appreciate us, or harm us do not have a place in our lives, they only offer us distress.
- By looking after our health. Monitoring our health protects us from non-existent -sometimes- scenarios.
- By starting to appreciate the good things that life offers us. Many times we take for granted things like the sun, a walk with friends, seeing a movie, or the fact that we wake up, and fill up with distress for everything we do not have. By beginning to appreciate everything in life, we will drive negativity away.
Our mental health is a precursor to bodily health. We have to respect and take care of it, like our body.
Distress and sadness not only do not solve any problems, but lead to withering and immune our critical ability and reflexes to cope with maturity and composure.