Harbouring grudges and feeling bitter will not only affect your mood, it can make you physically ill too, according to a new study.
The research found that negative feelings can have a physical impact by damaging your metabolism, immune system or organs.
Research leader Professor Carsten Wrosch, an expert in human development at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, said: “Persistent bitterness may result in global feelings of anger and hostility that, when strong enough, could affect a person’s physical health.”
He added: “When harboured for a long time, bitterness may forecast patterns of biological dysregulation [a physiological impairment that can affect metabolism, immune response or organ function] and physical disease.”
Wrosch cited failure as one of the most common causes of bitterness – such as over a broken marriage or missed promotion. He said the solution was to give up trying to change the things that are our of your control and to focus on other ways to fulfil your goals such as forming a new relationship or changing jobs.
His findings were published in Self-Regulation of Bitterness Across the Lifespan, a chapter from the recently published book, Embitterment: Societal, psychological, and clinical perspectives.
Philipa Gammell, Head of Wellbeing at Lomax Bespoke Fitness & Wellbeing told The Huffington Post Lifestyle:
“These studies that suggest our bitter and grumpy feelings can have a physical manifestation is something that energetic medicine has known for a long time – it is essential to connect on a conscious level with our physical bodies and register how our fluctuating moods can affect how we physically feel.
She adds: "For example, on a very basic level, if we feel happy then our temperature is generally a few degrees warmer than when we are sad – when are sad, we tend to hunch our shoulders and look for something warm to cover ourselves. Take this little example and then multiply it by the thousands for each time every day we feel a little glum and it is easy to see why our emotions are manifested through our physical bodies.”
Gammell reveals her top suggestions for combatting an attack of negativity...
7 natural mood boosters:
Take time out
This does not mean hours or days taken out but simply refers to taking a few moments for yourself, away from your desk to breathe. A great little exercise is to close your eyes and firstly ask yourself how you are feeling both physically and emotionally. Really take your mind into your physical body becoming aware of all the sensations, then once you have done this ask yourself how you feel, describing your emotions in a few words. Then bring your attention to your breath, register where exactly you feel it in your body; in your nose, throat, chest or stomach, and keep this focus for about 4 breaths. If your mind wanders at this point just keep bringing it back to the breath with no judgment. The final stage is to open up your awareness again and hear all the noise around you, ask how your body and mind feel and ‘come back’.
This may sound obvious but if you stand tall with confidence and smile you will immediately feel better and come across as more confident and out going which in turn will change the reactions you receive from those around you, having a knock on effect on how you feel within yourself. The old adage ‘fake it till you make it’ stands true.
Get outside for a brisk walk if the idea of ‘working out’ is too intimidating. Walk for at least 20 minutes a day in order to increase your cardio levels which feed your body with more oxygen, wakening up the mind and the body. Being outside in nature re-connects us to something infinitely greater than ourselves as well releasing endorphins which in turn make you feel better and more ‘alive’.
Even if you don’t especially feel like it – in the same way that being grumpy and despondent can have a direct adverse effect on your health, smiling and laughing whenever you can increases the intake of oxygen which in turn reduces the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is what inhibits and decreases the overall effectiveness of our immune system.
Not only does massage boost your endorphins but it also deals with that fact the body is the graveyard of our emotions. Through specialist massage, buried emotions that have been harboured in the body can be released on both a physical and emotional level. Using the concept that the body is entirely integrated, it is essential to address the body alongside the mind to achieve overall healing and greater wellbeing.
Mindful living; living in the moment
This is the most essential lesson we can all learn. When we are truly in the moment the past and the future cease to exist – they are fiction, they are a figment of our imagination. Within this moment we are pure, untainted by what we ‘think’ we are, what we ‘were’, what we ‘think’ we will become... We are free. We are no longer the constant chatter in our head, we are no longer the judgments that scream through our consciousness hundreds and thousands times a day. We just are. We are in this moment looking at life without judging, only accepting everything as it is. The more we do this the better we will slowly become at properly listening to ourselves and our bodies’ needs.
Eat ‘feelgood’ foods
Eat more foods rich in eltryptophan (the amino acid precurser to serotonin) such as eggs, poultry, flaxseed, and nuts. Foods rich in omega 3, such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, trout, tuna and flaxseed have also been proven by studies to help with depression.