Being aware of someone or something you love the most is very important. People do it to care for it in a better way and protect that from every harm. Life is a blessing people cherish, but less knowledge about how we function and respond to various life challenges prevents us from coping with these problems effectively. This article will share an antidote for overcoming stress in life.
As you face multiple life challenges, you drift away from happiness, and negative emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, and reduced self-esteem cloud your mind. That is when asking oneself how certain emotions alter or distort one’s thinking helps improve your mindset and helps you maintain a positive approach to life.
When you feel your thoughts are all over the place, affecting your physical and mental health, you need to perform a clean-up in order to restore a more profound version of yourself. While you might try yoga, meditation, healthy diet practices, or visit a psychiatrist, there is another way to improve your mental well-being. It is by finding answers to questions that will help you learn the way your body functions.
These self-discovery questions will open doors for your mental well-being. It will add to your knowledge and allow you to work on your negative emotions and control them. One of the questions to answer about yourself is the impact of your thoughts on the brain. You can find this answer in this article.
Table of Contents
The science behind emotions
To understand your thoughts and feelings, you need to know how these come into existence in the first place. Knowing the science behind what you feel will help you understand the profound effect on the physical conformation of the brain.
Difference between thoughts and feelings
Your feelings are responses to physical conditions like different situations, temperatures, or mental sensations that lead to thinking. Feelings are not as complex as thoughts and are straightforward to understand. Thoughts are a result of thinking or a response to feelings. Every feeling does not lead to emotion, as mostly your thoughts that drive emotions.
Parts of the brain involved in processing emotions
Your brain processes various emotions and functions for your physical and mental well-being is astonishing. The brain is a vital organ of the human body, pretty much responsible for all our thoughts and actions. Due to its complex function, it has numerous biochemical components working together and forming a system.
Some parts of the brain which are responsible for producing thoughts, memories, emotions, and feelings include the amygdala, insular cortex, and periaqueductal gray in the midbrain.
Hormones and neurotransmitters responsible for emotions
Hormones and neurotransmitters are chemicals in response to various thoughts, feelings, and emotions. These chemical messengers target organs to prepare them and process a reaction to the cause of that particular feeling or emotion.
These hormones include serotonin which is responsible for balancing mood and promoting well-being, endorphins for healing stress or uncomfortable conditions, and dopamine for pleasure, happiness, and reward. Low levels of serotonin are also the cause of sadness. All these hormones are produced by the brain and target various organs such as the kidneys, pancreas, and intestines.
You can increase the levels of these hormones by exercising, enjoying the outdoors, laughing, meditating, and listening to music. These can also be affected by your lifestyle. So ensure you get enough sleep, have a well-balanced diet, and express kindness and empathy to others.
Cortisol and adrenaline are often known as stress hormones. These are released at high levels when the brain gets signals of danger or unpleasant conditions.
Adrenaline and cortisol are secreted by the adrenal glands at the top of your kidneys.
Some effective ways to reduce stress hormone levels in the blood include reducing caffeine intake, regularly exercising, spending time outdoors, and sleeping well. Other methods include taking deep breaths, ensuring a healthy diet, and indulging in hobbies.
Your blood has a certain level of every hormone. However, if this balance is disturbed with too low or too high hormone levels, it produces adverse effects and might alter the biochemistry of the brain leading to the alteration of the brain.
How do emotions alter the brain?
Emotions affect your mood and other core aspects of the mind, including memory, cognitive thinking, learning, and concentration. These essential skills of life through which a person learns and prospers. These skills also help you endure various obstacles in life with the utmost strength and competence.
Effect of different emotions on the brain
Your emotions have a significant impact on your mental and physical health. Here are the effects of happiness, fear, and depression on the brain.
Happiness and its effects
Happiness is due to the release of two neurotransmitters, dopamine, and serotonin. These neurotransmitters in the blood allow the brain to grow and expand. It also enhances productivity and creativity, thus making a happy person more intelligence and successful.
Depressed brain vs a healthy brain
The increased amount of cortisol and reduced amount of serotonin can lead to various mental health conditions. One of them is depression. Scientists closely studied the difference in the brain structures between the healthy human brain and the depressed human brain. The results were astounding. The depressed brain had the following abnormalities:
Changes in the gray matter
The gray matter has numerous axons that process various signals and information, including memory and emotions. Depressed people had a thicker gray matter in the areas that controlled emotions.
Exposure to increased cortisol in the depressed brain leads to shrinkage of some parts of the brain, including the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. It also affects the functioning of the brain which makes it harder to perform daily life activities.
The distorted function of the amygdala
As mentioned earlier in the article, the amygdala is a vital organ playing a crucial role in emotion processing. People with depression have a more active amygdala than the ones without depression when exposed to stressful situations.
There are many questions related to this study yet to be answered, but at the moment, it proves that the long-lasting effect of negative emotions physically alters the brain.
How does the brain react to fear?
Fear leads to increased activity of the amygdala. As a result, it undermines the use of the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for higher-level processes such as reasoning and judgment.
Identifying negative thoughts
Your negative thoughts are the killers of joy and happiness. Sometimes being upset or worrisome about something is fine, but prolonged sadness can harm your physical and mental well-being. It may lead to chronic illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia.
Why is experiencing negative emotions so common?
Negative thinking is very natural as the human brain is wired in a way to remember more negative experiences and pinch negative information to combat the threat. Some distressing life experiences, such as embarrassing moments, deaths, or being upset with someone, harm the brain more than happier moments. More significant challenges in life-related to personal relationship issues, health, and financial constraints also keep the human mind engaged.
Some other common causes of negative thinking might be;
Research shares that 73 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 35 overthink. It can be due to increasing competition, limited opportunities, perfectionism, comparison, trauma, or fear of uncertainty.
Living in the past or future
Trauma or abuse can also lead to an influx of negative thoughts most times. Living in the past or continuously worrying about the future can also disturb one’s emotions and distort one’s positive approach toward life.
Disappointment and failure
Sometimes things do not go as planned, which upsets and disappoints people. They lose confidence and self-esteem, which also disturbs their mindset.
How to promote positive emotions?
Achieving a positive mindset may take some time but with constant struggle towards improvement, you will be able to alter your perspective on life. Here are some ways that can help you achieve a positive mindset:
Keep a realistic approach toward life
Understanding the purpose of life and its challenges can help you get a holistic view of your emotions. Life does not cater to your dreams, as rarely do they all come true. It is more about compromising and adjusting to the limited resources you are blessed with.
Aiming for perfectionism and desiring to achieve everything can lead to depression and anxiety.
Be independent to experience emotions
Another way to achieve optimism in life is by being independent when experiencing emotions. You might often end up feeling as not understood or not cared for. It is the best time to realize that keeping hopes from others to make you happy will sooner or later result in disappointment. Making others responsible for your happiness and thrill in life can also make you irritated and anxious.
Do not take life too seriously
Realization and acceptance can help you live a blissful life. Do not let your emotions be stronger than your desire to live. Express your excitement, joy, and happiness without fearing judgment. Listen and enjoy humor in life and be open to it without feeling insecure or attacked. Surround yourself with positive people and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Practice self-talk to instill motivation and confidence.
Replacing negativity with positivity
If you observe negativity in your thoughts that makes you feel low throughout the day, alter your thinking and replace them with an optimistic approach. As the human brain is inclined to focus on the worst-case scenarios, you can distract it by voluntarily concentrating on the positive aspects.
Back-to-back thoughts that engage a person are known as racing thoughts. These thoughts can be positive, negative, or neutral. In all cases, racing thoughts are harmful to you. These interfere with your daily life activities by impairing concentration, focus, and critical thinking leading to health conditions such as anxiety and insomnia. Racing thoughts can also be a result of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, ADHD, OCD, and depression.
The role of self-awareness to prevent emotions take control of the mind
Have you ever felt guilty after reacting instantly to a situation or a condition? It signifies that you have weakened self-control and your emotions control your actions. While your emotions and feelings affect your behavior, you can still learn to control your actions.
Self-awareness is the key to self-love. You can not love yourself till you strive to know what is good and bad for your well-being. It is a vital step towards personality development and growth as it gives you a deeper insight into who you are and allows you to make necessary changes. Self-awareness can help you take charge of your emotions, not entirely, but to some extent.
Some benefits of self-awareness include,
Higher emotional intelligence
Your thoughts are the seeds of your emotions. These thoughts come into your mind when you feel something that gives rise to these emotions. Emotions are more profound than feelings as they can occur consciously or subconsciously. It can also cause various physical changes to your brain (discussed further in this article).
Self-awareness will assist you in controlling your emotions by reacting in a better way to different situations. You will also be able to comprehend and express yourself better. It will help you understand other people’s opinions, making you live a fluid and flexible life.
Enhanced social skills
Living without good these essential social skills will hinder success and growth. These skills are vital for interacting with other people at different phases of life. Without these skills, you will push yourself toward the dark emotions of stress and depression.
Self-awareness boosts confidence and happiness levels, improving your personal and work life. It gives rise to better communication skills, problem-solving approaches, and leadership skills, all essential for better personality development. Social skills can improve your relationships and decision-making skills that are core to better feelings and emotions.
A positive approach to life
When you know how your mind and body react to different situations, you can respond to challenges more efficiently. The improved confidence and happiness will give you a better outlook on life.
Dig deeper into who you are to find your purpose, passion, and motivation in life. These will give you strength while you navigate your way through various roadblocks in life.
How to be more self-aware?
After reading about the immense advantages of self-awareness, you might wonder how to instill it in your life. So here are some ways you can recognize your emotions and be more conscious about yourself,
Knowing your likes and dislikes
At times when you go shopping, you might be confused about liking or disliking a particular dress. This confusion might be because of a lack of self-awareness. You should know if you are happy at your current workplace or like or dislike something.
Some people do not bother much about what they wear or eat, considering it troublesome, but you should be clear about your liking or disliking as your choices greatly determine who you are.
Having strong opinions on various matters such as politics, family matters, or global issues also determines self-awareness. So, keep yourself updated on these matters to share a mindful review or opinion on these issues.
Your genuine friends and family are your biggest cheerleaders who are always there to help you navigate life. You can request feedback about your personality or ask them what they think about you. Their feedback can help you observe your strengths and to work on your weaknesses. You can also take help from your colleagues and managers in this regard.
Relaxing and meditating
Doing mindful practices like yoga and breathing exercises can also increase your self-awareness. You will be able to untangle through the shackles of your emotions and find peace in life.
Planning and aiming for your goal
Making plans and writing your goals is also very helpful in increasing self-awareness. Knowing your passions and exactly what you want from life assists in identifying emotions effectively.
Taking personality tests
These online self-awareness tests are another way to boost your knowledge about yourself. Personality tests help identify your strengths and weaknesses that you can consider while experiencing various emotions. These tests also give a better insight into your life and might find areas that require improvement.
There are many personality quizzes available on the website, here on BuzzFeed, for instance.
It is impossible to entirely control your emotions, but you can learn to react accordingly. Learning more about your brain and how it reacts to stressful situations can help to overcome negative thoughts better. Know yourself better and continue defeating negative emotions taking a toll on your mental well-being. Sometimes an escape from problems is only by understanding them better.