How to Have Emotional Stability

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH

Emotional stability requires balancing the demands of lifeEmotional stability stems from attitude. Without the right attitude it is extremely difficult, almost impossible, to have any kind of control on your emotions. Having control over your emotions is the first step to emotional stability. Unless you can subject your emotions to a voluntary control, an individual will always be dictated by his or her emotions and not the other way around.

Emotions are a combination of various attributes of man. It is rooted in how our mind functions and what we are thinking. There are psychological aspects and physical elements as well. Many people might not consider physical aspects to be integral to emotions but they are. Various hormonal secretions, chemical imbalances and physical problems can lead to emotional instability. Thus a combination of everything we know, including the outside world, would play a role in emotional stability. From attitude towards our loved ones, to our desires, aspirations, and fate; everything can contribute to improve or worsen our emotions.

People from all walks of life will struggle with emotional instability at one point or another. However, when negative emotions persist for a long time, they can make you feel depressed, cause low self-confidence, and affect your quality of life and wellbeing.
Some of the factors that can negatively affect your emotional stability include

  • Anxiety
  • Strained relationships
  • Breakups
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Loneliness
  • Feeling dejected
  • An uncooperative workplace environment
  • Trauma
  • A serious illness
  • A financial crisis

Having emotional stability is essential to leading a happy successful life. Emotional instability can dramatically affect your quality of life leaving you feeling stressed out and depressed. It can also give rise to various health issues including mood disorders, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety. Certain medications can help relax your nerves and minimize mood swings, however, prolonged use can cause unwanted side effects may that end up adding to your stress levels. The most important thing to understand is that taking control of your emotions rests solely in your own hands. Resorting to practical solutions can help beat emotional instability and can significantly improve your quality of life.

Two Rules for Emotional Stability

Fighting emotional instability can be daunting and painful. While there are numerous ways to have emotional stability, two simple rules can take you a long way. The two rules are: acceptance of inevitability and improve what can be improved. These may look like simple philosophies, but when put into larger context of a lifetime, everything can be brought down to these basic philosophies of life.

We all know that there are things which are inevitable. Not everything is under human control but every man and woman in the world has an urge to control at least a few things in their lives. The only people who cannot be put into this classification are the people who have managed to renounce worldly pleasures. Acceptance of inevitability is certainly the start, but that is not what one must do to have emotional stability. If you cannot have a person in your life and it is inevitable, one must let that person go. If you cannot buy a bigger home due to financial liabilities then one must accept it. Trying to challenge the inevitable is a futile exercise.

Likewise, one must improve what can be improved. Most of the time, the emotional instabilities are born out of frustration of trying to get something right and not getting it right. If it cannot be improved or if something is beyond conciliation, reconciliation, or progress; then it is a deadlock and one must not try and invest energy to revive it. Removing triggers that negatively affect your emotions is a great way to build and maintain a positive attitude. Yoga and breathing exercises, physical workouts, relaxing massages, changing your perspective, establishing good social bonds, eating a nutritious diet, spending time with loved ones, getting adequate sleep, and pursuing your hobbies can all help build emotional stability.

Emotional Stability and the NEM Response

The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) system is the body’s automatic response to combat stress. This system utilizes two main parts, comprised of the neuroendocrine and metabolic response components. These two portions of the NEM are separate, yet undeniably linked; dysregulation among any part will inevitably set off a cascading response to all systems and organs.

Accept emotional stabilityThe neuroendocrine segment – comprised of the heart, brain, adrenals, thyroid, GI tract, and autonomic nervous system – is initiated when the body tries to defend itself against stress via activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is crucial to how our body takes and responds to stress. It is the intake area where the brain receives messages – including stress – and the place of origin for neurotransmitters and hormones. The neurotransmitters – or chemical messengers – along with the hormones are sent to the targeted organ to perform their function.

The most important organ outside this central nervous system control center are the adrenal glands, a pair of walnut-shaped glands located above your kidneys. The adrenals function to synthesize more than fifty hormones to assist in our battle with stress; the most important of these is cortisol. Without a properly functioning HPA axis and suitable cortisol synthesization, the body will not be able to handle even the smallest amount of stress. Chronic or excessive stress therefore leads to AFS, with each of its four stages and progressions.

If you allow emotional instability to take over your life, you will constantly be dealing with excess stress that will increase your risk of developing adrenal fatigue. During stressful situations, the HPA axis signals your adrenal glands to secrete the anti-stress hormone cortisol to help deal with the immediate stressor. However, constant stress caused by various factors, including emotional instability, can exert additional pressure on your adrenals due to increased cortisol demands. Over time, your adrenals can become overburdened and will no longer be able to secrete adequate amounts of cortisol. This, in turn, can reduce your body’s natural stress-fighting abilities, leading to adrenal fatigue.

When you frequently experience extreme fatigue along with other symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, brain fog, difficulty waking up, low energy levels, constipation, stubborn weight gain, low concentration levels, and cravings for salty and fatty foods, you may be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). Minimizing stress is pertinent to your successful recovery from adrenal fatigue.

Each day you may be exposed to a variety of stressors which increases your chances of developing AFS. While some stress in life is inevitable, certain stressors can be avoided or controlled. For instance, emotional stability can significantly lower your stress levels and will go a long way in preventing health issues including AFS. Emotional stability can be achieved by developing the right attitude, staying strong, evaluating whether things can be improved, working with a positive attitude on things that can be improved using practical solutions, and adhering to your beliefs.

Recognizing that some things are outside of our control and working to improve the things in our lives with a realistic approach can go a long way in preventing emotional instabilities. If we can begin to realize that our feelings are in the realm of our control, then we can decrease negative thoughts and therefore prevent at least some activation of stress responses. Maintaining emotional stability can decrease our stress and contribute to AFS recovery.

© Copyright 2013 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Eating a nutrient-dense diet can help boost your mental health which, in turn, can promote emotional stability. Foods such as whole grains, chia seeds, lentils, leafy green vegetables, berries, and Brazil nuts can help support brain health and promote positive emotions.

Emotional stability
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