Whether it’s problems in our personal or business relationships, demands on our time and energy, money issues, or negative self-talk, we all deal with mental and emotional stress on a daily basis. The results of excessive and unmanaged mental stress are devastating. It is estimated that stress is a co-factor in 95% of disease processes,1 and emotional and mental stress often plays a role in physical stress as well.
Stress and mental disorders
Mental and emotional stress are a major contributor to mental disorders. In America, 1 in every 5 adults and teens suffer from a mental illness.2 Anxiety disorders and depression are the most prevalent mental illnesses. However, millions of people suffer from other illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
At its worst, mental disorders can lead to suicide—which is the 10th most common cause of death in the United States and is responsible for nearly one million deaths per year worldwide.3 4 Poor mental health is also strongly correlated with alcoholism, drug use, pornography, and other addictions. These sobering facts are a reminder that we should make our mental health as well as the mental health of those around us more of a priority.
The physiology of mental stress
To fully understand mental and emotional stress, it’s helpful to look at how our body responds to it physically. Mental and emotional responses to stimuli are processed by the brain’s limbic system. In addition to helping form memories, the limbic system moderates our mood and maintains homeostasis.5
The principal structure that maintains homeostasis in our body is the hypothalamus, which is known as the “Master Gland.” The hypothalamus processes your feelings, thoughts, and attitudes, and then communicates instructions to the autonomic nervous system. When you encounter something that causes significant emotional stress, this system increases your breathing and heart rate, and can affect your digestion and body temperature as well.6
Another key gland in the stress response is the pituitary gland. This gland signals the adrenals, thyroid, and other glands to secrete hormones. After the body’s autonomic system responds to an emotional stimulus, the parasympathetic nervous system works to calm the body down. However, problems may arise when hormones are activated too frequently through the body’s stress response.
Mental and emotional stress consists of all the emotions we experience that may negatively impact our health. It also includes the glands, organs, hormones, and neurotransmitters involved in regulating our stress response and our mood.
Certain emotions are energetically connected to specific organs and systems within the body. For example, the emotion of frustration is closely connected to the hypothalamus gland, liver, and gallbladder, as well as the gallbladder and liver TCM meridians. It’s also closely connected to two of the thoracic vertebrae and the canine, or cuspid teeth. These areas would be the most likely to be affected when the emotion of frustration is experienced in excess.
On the other hand, a physical problem within the body may manifest as an excess in the emotion it is energetically connected to. In this case, supporting that physical area often results in its connected emotion returning to a balanced state.
Causes of mental/emotional stress
Our interactions with other people and the environment around us have the potential to cause emotional and mental stress. The emotional stress we experience can come from everyday things we have to deal with such as traffic or challenges at work. Significant life experiences such as the following can also trigger our stress response:
- The death of a loved one
- Loss of a job
- Moving to a new home
- Getting married
- An accident or other traumatic event
- Chronic illness
There are also internal sources of stress that can negatively affect our health and wellness. Things like unrealistic expectations, worry, uncertainty, and negative attitudes and perceptions can cause emotional pain and discomfort, all of which may lead to more serious mental issues.7
Symptoms of mental/emotional stress
When we experience mental and emotional stress frequently and for an extended period of time, chronic symptoms and conditions may develop. If you feel like you are stressed out all the time and experience any of these symptoms regularly, consult with a medical doctor or a mental health professional:
- Digestion problems
- Aches and pains
- Chest pain
- Frequent illness
- Loss of appetite
- Increase of appetite
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of sex drive
- Using alcohol or drugs to relax
Lifestyle and mental/emotional stress
While we all experience mental and emotional stress to one degree or another, we don’t have to be defeated by it. Part of the process of effectively managing stress is to realize that emotions are useful to us and aren’t something to be avoided. Emotions help us to grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and their negative impact can be greatly reduced when we learn to channel them properly.
One of the best ways to deal with emotional and mental stress is to add breathing and relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Deep-breathing exercises such as alternate-nostril breathing and paced breathing are not only great for your respiratory health, but can also help you reduce mental and emotional stress.
Exercises such as tai chi, qigong, and yoga combine body movements with deep breathing and provide additional benefits compared to breathing exercises alone. Many forms of these exercises also integrate meditation, which is a particularly effective way of dealing with stress.
Another tip for dealing with stress is to practice gratitude. Research shows that focusing on what you are grateful for leads to more optimism, better sleep, improved self-esteem, and better overall health.8 When you have a grateful mindset, you don’t focus as much on the mental and emotional stress in your life.
You may find that your busy schedule makes it difficult to manage your stress. If this is the case, set aside some time in your calendar that is just for you, whether it’s an hour or 15 minutes. This time could be used for an exercise such as yoga, deep breathing, or just meditation and self-reflection.
Ignoring your stress can lead to serious problems, so take control of it now rather than later. If you need additional help, talk with a friend or family member about your problems or reach out to a mental health professional.
Diet & nutrition for mental/emotional stress
The emotional and mental stress we feel and the way we handle it can be greatly affected by what we eat. The food we eat affects our brain function and gut health, which has a huge impact on our mental health. Certain foods can boost neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which regulates our mood, sleep, and appetite.9 Food also contains nutrients that are essential for our mental and emotional health.
Incorporating the following types of foods into your diet can improve your psychological well-being and help you better manage emotional stress.
- Antioxidants – blueberries, dark chocolate, leafy greens
- Essential fatty acids – salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds
- Prebiotics & probiotics – yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut
- Complex carbohydrates – vegetables, fruits, whole grains
- B vitamins – eggs, dark leafy vegetables, meat
Herbs and essential oils for mental/emotional stress
Along with diet and lifestyle changes, herbs and essential oils can be particularly effective at helping you deal with mental and emotional stress. Whatever emotion you are struggling with, there is an herb or oil that can help. Popular herbs and oils to help balance out your emotions include:
- Roman chamomile
In addition to herbs and essential oils, flower extracts can also assist you in dealing with emotional issues. The Mimulus Bach flower, for example, can be used to balance feelings of fear and shyness.
Mental/Emotional Stress Virtual Item
Mental/Emotional Stress is one of the key lifestyle areas scanned in the ZYTO Balance biosurvey. A digital signature representing this item is automatically scanned in this biosurvey, and Virtual Items within this category are also scanned. Some of the emotion Virtual Items under the Mental/Emotional Stress category that are scanned include:
Along with these emotions, digital signatures representing biomarkers related to mental/emotional stress are also scanned in the Balance biosurvey. These Virtual Items include:
- Pituitary gland
- Candida Albicans
In the Balance Wellness report, you can see how the body responds to these and other mental emotional stressors. And in the more advanced Select and Elite software, you have the option to scan these Virtual Items as well as additional items related to mental and emotional health. You can scan other emotions such as pain, joy, and yearning, for example, and you can even scan the Emotional Stressors category, which includes the 12 Perception Zones of the EVOX software. You may also see how the body responds to certain Affirmation Statements, which can be especially helpful. Scanning these and other similar items can provide further insights into mental and emotional wellness.
Mental/Emotional balancer Virtual Items
The Balance Wellness report scans items from a specific product company to help bring mental/emotional stressors as well as the other stressors scanned back into normal range. We call these items balancer Virtual Items.
In the Mental/Emotional Stress portion of the Balance Wellness Report, you are able to see which specific products best support the out-of-range Virtual Items in this category. The top wellness services you scanned for, which you can see in the Services section of the report, may also be important items to look at in relation to mental and emotional health.
In addition to the biosurveys and associated reports available in the Balance, Select, and Elite, the EVOX software is a powerful tool for addressing the Mental/Emotional Stress category. By simply speaking about a topic related to emotional and mental stress, you are able to expand your perception about that topic using the EVOX. This process can lead to improvements in relationships, performance, health, and more.
About Dr. Vaughn Cook
Dr. Vaughn R Cook is the Founder & CEO of ZYTO. An Oriental Medical Doctor (OMD) and licensed acupuncturist, he has worked in the complementary and alternative medical field for more than 30 years, specializing in applications that integrate Western and Eastern medicine.
1. Friedman, Will Joel. “Types of Stress and Their Symptoms.” Centersite, LLC. Mentalhelp.net.
2. “Mental Health Facts.” National Alliance on Mental Illness. Nami.org.
3. “NCHS Health E-Stats.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Cdc.gov.
4. Ritchie, Hannah & Max Roser. “Causes of Death.” Our World in Data. Ourworldindata.org.
5. Boeree, C. Goerge. “The Emotional Nervous System.” C. George Boeree. Webspace.ship.edu.
6. Low, Phillip. “Overview of the Autonomic Nervous System.” Merck & Co., Inc. Merckmanuals.com.
7. “Causes of Stress.” WebMD LLC. Webmd.com.
8. Firestone, Lisa. “The Healing Power of Gratitude.” Sussex Publishers, LLC. Psychologytoday.com.
9. Owens, Alexandra. “Tell Me About…Serotonin?” Remedy Health Media, LLC. Psycom.net.