New Research Says Managing Emotions Could Play An Important Role In Protecting The Brain
It's no secret that negative emotions aren't exactly fun, but according to new research published in the journal Nature1, they could have even more of an impact on our health than we previously thought. Here's what the research found, plus some helpful tips for learning how to manage your own emotions.
Studying the connection between emotions and neurodegenerative diseases.
For this study, Swiss researchers wanted to take a closer look at the link between negative emotions, anxiety, and depression, and the onset of neurodegenerative diseases and dementia. Namely, they wanted to understand what exactly happens in the brain when people go through emotional distress.
To do so, they observed brain activity in both young and older participants as they were being confronted with other people's psychological suffering. Their findings indicated that particularly in older adults, neural connections were "excessively modified" by negative emotions, especially in the regions of the brain associated with emotion management and autobiographical memory.
As the study authors write, "These results indicate that a better management of these emotions—through meditation for example— could help limit neurodegeneration."
What to do about it.
Unfortunately, there's no shortage of stressors or suffering in this world—but the good news is, the study authors believe managing negative emotions that subsequently come up could have protective benefits for the brain.
They recommend meditation, for one thing, which has a long-standing reputation for easing stress, improving concentration and mindfulness, and yes, working through emotions. And even if you don't meditate, mindfulness can still be incorporated throughout your day, helping you to identify and feel your emotions so you can work through them.
Working with a mental health professional who can guide you in emotional management can also be beneficial if you're just getting started.
And if you want any additional help with managing your emotions for the sake of your brain, it wouldn't be a bad idea to incorporate targeted botanicals into your routine. Ingredients like CBD, lavender, and ashwagandha are research-backed and have been shown to help support feelings of calm and a balanced mental state. Don't know where to start? Check out this roundup of our favorite supplements for stress, all backed by a nutrition Ph.D.
For the sake our physical and mental health, learning how to manage emotions is proving to become more and more important in this day and age. While we may not be able to stop bad things from happening, we can control how we respond to them, and how we deal with the emotions that arise.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.