How Emotions and Beliefs Could Be Affecting You Physically

In the years that I spent health coaching, most of my clients underestimated how their emotional state affected their physical goals. Whether they were looking to achieve weight loss, more energy, better digestive health or increased feelings of wellness, they often dismissed the more abstract aspects of their life that fed into how they were feeling.

That is the beauty of holistic health: it takes the whole person into account. When analyzing the puzzle pieces of one’s “self” to the path to better health, a holistic approach pulls in one’s past, relationships, contentment in career, mindfulness practice, etc. 

The wellness world has majorly shifted in recent years to acknowledge stress as a critical component of overall health. We now know that to feel your best self, there is so much more to it than how eat and exercise. Not only from a physiological perspective, but an energetic one as well.

Let’s say someone wants to increase their energy, reduce sugar cravings and even lose a little weight, but is undergoing a lot of stress in his or her life. Now consider the physiological effects of stress and anxiety on the body. Attempting to achieve these goals while harboring such negative emotions can adversely impact blood sugar and metabolism. During both acute and chronic stress, the body releases the hormone cortisol, which automatically sends you into fight-or-flight mode. Not only is a higher production of cortisol associated with increased appetite, decreased nutrient absorption, and increased fat storage, but it impacts blood sugar by increasing the release of insulin. Insulin is a storage hormone that not only signals to the body to store any excess glucose as fat, but the presence of it prevents the body from releasing stored fat for fuel. Combine that with cravings for comforting carbs when stressed, and you have a formula for insulin resistance, lethargy, and perhaps weight gain. Additionally, hanging out in storage mode has negative implications for brain health as well.

Now let’s look deeper under the hood at the belief system. As a holistic health coach, I believe very strongly in the mind-body connection. I also believe in the law of attraction. When it comes to feelings of wellbeing, I would argue that there is more to it energetically than one might think. For anyone who is unfamiliar, the law of attraction states that “like attracts like.” In other words, based on what we are focusing on, we bring into our lives certain experiences of similar frequency. Your emotions, beliefs, and expectations all work to create your external reality.

As I started to apply these principles in my health coaching practice, I witnessed my clients make more progress than just tending to diet and exercise. When I would ask my clients their motivation for hiring me, or the reason why they wanted to achieve their respective goals, they would often answer in the positive emotions they were wanting to feel: vibrant, happier, more energized, confident, at peace, thinking that the achievement of the goal itself was a prerequisite to the emotion(s). Until then, their journey towards their vision of better health was instead laced with stress, anxiety, frustration, and sometimes fear. Even worse, there was not a lot of belief in themselves that they could even attain their goals. I heard a lot of “I will always be this way because it is the way I have always been.”

You’ve probably heard the following phrases: “The mind is a powerful thing.” “Your body hears everything your mind says.” Take the placebo effect for example. It isn’t just some mystical phenomenon. Numerous studies show that the response to drugs and medications are in part placebo based. And it doesn’t just come down to their deceptive nature. Taking a sugar pill has shown to be just as effective when participants are told about placebos’ potential to heal. This is where the power of belief comes into play. Mindset researchers argue that beliefs can create your reality. This study illustrates that changing your beliefs can even influence weight loss! If you expect a certain result, there’s a chance that is the result you will get, including those in your physical body.

According to Eckhart Tolle, “emotion arises at the place where mind and body meet.” It’s why you have butterflies in your stomach when nervous, and goosebumps on your skin when you feel fear. So what is the story you are telling yourself about your health efforts or situation in general? If you are someone who feels stuck, or far from how you want to feel (physically, emotionally, energetically), maybe it’s time to try something different. Know that stress can create a barrier to feeling better. Rewrite your story. Embrace the positive emotions at the beginning, so you will be more receptive to what you are looking to achieve.