Emotions are such an intriguing concept and depending on your language and worldview, you may see them as an emotional/psychological abstraction to define particular feelings. And while you would be right, you would also be missing the very physical and biological components involved.
In English, we feel "happy", or "sad", words given exclusively to an emotional state. Whereas in Yoruba, we relate these feelings to our tangible physical state, our insides feel sweet (happiness) "inu mi dun".
It is no surprise that the Western World finds it all too easy to create an almost binding dichotomy between our physical and mental wellbeing. Given that our emotions are influenced by our hormones, and hormone dysregulation can be a symptom or cause of many illnesses, it is a shock that we have gotten so far thinking this way. For example, depression is a standalone mental illness, but it can also be a symptom of diabetes, thyroid problems, covid and a weak immune system.
With people that may not be in tune with their emotional wellbeing or do not have healthy emotional outlets, the lack of recognition and psychological processing of one's feelings may lead to physical manifestations of distress.
Mental/psychological problems can also cause a myriad of physical health symptoms. This includes:
Disrupted menstrual cycle
Weakened immune system
Changes in sex drive
Changes in appetite
Shortness of breath
High blood pressure
Although everyone has them, emotions are often deemed weak, and it may seem peculiar to dedicate time and effort into sorting them out. But like a bucket of water in the rain, if we don't intentionally empty it, it will overflow in ways that we do not choose.
People that are hyper-independent tend to be at high risk of being disillusioned from their emotions because of the lack of priority given to emotional expression due to heavy duty given during their early years and a lack of nurture. Those with low self-esteem may also struggle to recognise their emotions as having emotional needs may feel shameful and reaching out for help rarely seems viable.
Recognising and processing your emotions is just as important as any other health need. While it may be framed as a luxury, those that are more well-connected and emotionally balanced have better outcomes such as longer life span, more friends, lower levels of chronic illness, and report higher levels of happiness. From journaling, to making time for play, to venting to a friend, there are many ways to start de-stressing!
If you suspect that you would need more support and would perhaps prefer therapy, then you can book a session with me.