Studies reveal that even anger and sadness are an important part of life and new research shows that experiencing and accepting such emotions are vital to our mental health. Attempting to suppress thoughts can backfire and even diminish our inner sense of contentment. Suppressing thoughts and feelings can become harmful when not addressed. In a 2012 study, psychotherapist Eric L. Garland of Florida State University and his associates measured a stress response based on heart rate in 58 adults in treatment for alcohol dependence while exposing them to alcohol-related cues. Subjects also completed a test of their tendency to suppress thoughts. The researchers found that those who restrained their thinking more often had stronger stress responses to the cues than did those who suppressed their thoughts less frequently.
This is not to say go dwell on negative emotions. But the “get happy” messages we receive from media, parents, or even friends can steer us to deny or suppress feelings leading to drinking, over shopping, overeating, over exercising, over thinking, and numbing ourselves – all things that steer us away from the very own essence of what we are truly feeling and from the totality of our human nature. If we can only see and “be with” our feelings, they can move like water rather than stick like mud.
Unfortunately, most of us have not received training in this way. From an Ayurvedic and holistic perspective, “The main cause of emotional imbalance is the lack of ability to process emotions in a timely fashion. Some people are able to process an emotion quickly, which means they are able to let go of it and move on with their lives. For others, the processing or “cooking” of thoughts is slow, so the negative impression remains with them for a very long time and impacts their current thoughts and emotions, resulting in depression,” says Maharishi Ayurveda. What do I do to create more balance? He says to partake in “Ayurvedic therapies, which restore the connection between heart, mind, and self. They are the dietary, behavioral and environmental choices that allow you to become more self-referral, more aligned with your cosmic, infinite potential rather than remain caught in the small, narrow boundaries of emotional stress.”
Here are three holistic tips toward emotional well-being that I recommend in my one-hour Ayurveda consults at CentreSpring MD:
Writing down feelings or writing a letter to someone we need closure with can be extremely helpful in dealing with negative emotions. Authors say that writing three pages in the morning of uncensored thoughts gives the mind space to simply dump feelings. If you do it in the morning, it’s more likely that it becomes a free flow of thoughts and feelings.
I’m shocked at how many women I see have been sexually abused. My emotional response initially to these incidences had been horror, anger, sadness, repulsion, and fear. All of these feelings have allowed me to become more compassionate and open my heart, realizing that we all have had abuse on some level, whether it be financial, emotional, physical or mental. By allowing a space for women to share, I developed compassion not only for them but for myself and the rest of the world. I’ve accepted that all of us suffer on some level but it’s how we face it that makes the difference in the feelings harming us or catalyzing change. One is the victim, the other the warrior. Allowing for darker feelings is like including the night of your being. It was put there for a reason, and flashing light onto it awakens its message. For me, it leads me to the healing arts, color and making art. Where will it lead you? It’s all energy recycling itself back into its truth.
- Move the energy
Whether it’s dance, tai chi, yoga, or walking outside, stimulating those feel-good vibes in our bodies known as endorphins can easily shift one’s perspective. Get an acupuncture session with Allison here at the Center, or receive Marma therapy in a session with me to ground and center yourself so you can cope with the feelings. You may discover you need to be honest with someone, or that you need some alone time or healthier boundaries. Or that you need to speak up and not suppress your thoughts, whether it be at work or in a relationship.
- Essential Oils
Essential oils easily access the “limbic” part of the brain affecting hormones and emotions. Using essential oils as part of your wellness kit can be both invigorating, calming and soothing depending what you want to achieve. Experiment with different oils to see which suits you best depending on the mood you desire!
My six Essential Oil recommendations for emotional well-being:
- Fear and Anxiety: Frankincense, Ylang Ylang, Lavender
- Anger: Rose, Clary Sage, Patchouli
- Confidence: Lemon, Rosemary, and Jasmine
- Panic Attack: Neroli, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine
- Mood Swings: Geranium, rosewood
- Depression: Grapefruit, Juniper, Lavender plus Ylang Ylang
You can put up to 10-12 drops in a warm bath, diffuse, or make into a massage oil.
People with good emotional health:
- Believe that there is a healthy balance to their life between leisure time, activity, and work
- Don’t suffer from self-esteem issues
- Believe there is a purpose to their lives
- Are able to accept changes better and are resilient and just go with the flow
- Enjoy living, and know the value of fun and laughter
- Are better able to deal with stress
- Feel gratitude!
Allow the full spectrum of who you are to be – there is no one else like you. Celebrate yourself in all ways!