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EQ for Balance
Most of us these days are concerned about our wellness and we’re doing what we can to alleviate stress and achieve a healthy balance in our lives. We think about what we eat, we exercise, and we try and manage our emotional states, eliminating what stress we can, and trying to cope better with the rest of it.
Underlying all our efforts is the fact that we depend upon our immune systems for our health. The rise of auto-immune deficiency diseases is making this more evident to us all the time. Our immune systems are our first, and last, line of defense against disease, and they are directly effected by our emotional states.
Emotional states such as depression, grief and anger weaken our immune systems and leave us susceptible to disease. It’s been documented that after a married couple has a big fight, one of them is likely to come down with something the following week. It’s been documented that “anger kills.”
However, as Arnold Relman, MD, editor of The New England Journal, wrote about a colleague, “The scientific method is not … the only way or even the best way to learn about nature and the human body. Many important truths are intuitively evident and do not need a scientific support, even when they seem to contradict logic.”
We know intuitively that our emotions can make us sick, just as we know they can make us well. We can return from the proper sort of vacation feelings years younger, just as we can get up from a massage table feeling, as a friend of mine said after his first massage, “This has added years to my life.”
We’re all too aware when our pulse pounds, when our hearts race, when we have that sickening feeling in the pit of our stomachs, or are unable to breathe or think when in the throes of a strong emotion, that our bodies are being affected negatively. We’re also quite aware how our hearts melt, how our pulse regulates, how sweetly we breathe, and how great we feel lying next to a loved one, rocking our grandchild, or starting at a magnificent sunset.
How we manage our emotions can make the difference between health and illness, and the effects are cumulative.
Our emotional state can override the effects of diet and exercise. In fact, if you’re a hostile and driven person who turns exercise and diet into the same sort of addictive, tense activity as everything else in your life, you will defeat your purposes. You will go out on the golf course to make up for the effects of anger and then just get angry that you can’t put it right, your partner’s late, or your caddy’s an idiot.
In an article entitled, “Managing Emotions,” by Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., and Paul Rosch, M.D., which appears on the PGA website, the authors discuss the effects of emotionson performance. They relate that a Japanese sports physician thinks around 5,000 individuals die yearly on fair ways, succumbing to the stress they impose upon themselves while playing golf.
We need the negative emotions because they give us information – how else would we know what to fear and what to avoid? However, fear, anxiety, anger, grief and worry erode our performance, erode our relationships and ultimately erode our health.
For a true wellness regime, include some emotional intelligence development. Learn how to go out and exercise without worrying yourself to death about the score, you rabs, or your opponent’s personality. Learn how to eat right by knowing what food choices to make and also learning to recognize when you’re eating your anger, or trying to comfort your grief. Keep the yoga in your life, but don’t have a heart attack because you allow yourself 10 minutes to make the 20 minute trip from your office to the health club and then stress yourself because there are no clean towels in the towel bin, your personal trainer isn’t perfect, or you haven’t lost the 2 lbs. you insist that you must.
A deep body massage is one of the best things you can do for your health, but don’t sabotage yourself like the man I observed the other day. You can’t lie on the massage table screaming into your cell phone at someone, and expect beneficial health results.
It’s a bit of folk wisdom that it isn’t what you say but how you say it, and as far as our health regime: it isn’t what you do, but how you do it. If you aren’t mindful, the emotional state you engender in rushing to meet the wellness demands you subject yourself to can undo all the good you might be doing.
All the EQ competencies are important, but one of the more important is certainly Intentionality. It means doing what you intend to do, saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and having the effect you intend to have. This means you can’t pull the wool over your own eyes; and your eyes are the only ones that matter.
If you trudge off to exercise like an addict on his or her way to court-ordered rehab, planning to make a mockery of it all, it won’t work. I’m reminded of the man in recovery Ionce worked with who told me, “I go to the meetings after I’ve had a couple of drinks and no one can tell.” (wink wink)How clever of him, I thought, all the way to his own demise.
You can tell your wife you went, when you didn’t; or you can tell your doctor you’re “trying,” but who are you kidding. As Paul Pearsall so beautifully puts it in his book, “The Pleasure Prescription,” go ahead and retell all those war stories (each telling of which will have the exact same physiological effect on your body as the original event), “but to the victor goes the bypass.”
Nor will it work if you rush through your afternoon to make time, dash out the door, fight traffic while you yell into your cell phone while writing to-do notes to yourself on the car pad, and then have a final tantrum when the exercise machine you want isn’t available when you get there.
The epitome of this circular self-defeating approach was captured in a cartoon I saw years ago. Our victim is on the examination table. The doctor says, “Why are you drinking?” He replies: “Because I smoke and smoking makes me nervous.” There are cases in which the cure can be worse than the disease.
We see this also in the middle-aged person who, in acounter-phobic maneuver suddenly start climbing mountains, bungee jumping, or competing in a tennis league that’s beyond his or her capabilities. Sprained ankles, broken arms, slipped discs, myocardial infarcts, and even amputated fingers can be the results, none of which improves the health, all of which add problems that weren’t existent before.
Understanding and being able to manage your own emotions is the starting point. It’s also the ending point. In between there are diet, exercise, nutriceuticals, prescription medications, and checkups. Don’t leave out any part! You can’t feel good if you don’t feel good, if you get what I mean.
©Susan Dunn, MA, Life & EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . Susan offer individuals EQ coaching, Internet courses and ebooks for your wellness. She trains and certifies EQ coaches. Mailto:email@example.com for FREE ezine and more information.
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