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August 15, 2013 at 12:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

Bad Moods: Linking Temper to Frustrating Ailments

By Jeany Miller More Blogs by This Author

Headaches, mosquito bites, backaches, and toothaches. They all have something in common – a trait that seems to impossibly link them together – aside from the obvious nuisance they pose. These ailments crop up when they are least wanted. Nobody ever wants to deal with the pain of a backache or bothersome itch of a mosquito bite. But when a day is going especially bad - or when a week has seemed exceptionally long - these ailments appear to crop up suddenly and out of nowhere. In other words, sickness befalls us when we feel least humorous.

Could this be mere coincidence, or do moods attract unwanted circumstances?

It’s unlikely that tempers beckon to sickness in the way women wave to friends. This would mean that every moment of frustration or sadness is a moment in which sickness will likely descend. Health care providers might argue this is true, because stress lowers a person’s immunity and increases susceptibility to inflammation. But the real mechanism at work seems to be mind over matter, in which emotions rule mental and physical well-being.

Studies show that both memory and creativity are heightened during moments of sadness because that is when humans are most sensitive. That same sensitivity doesn’t exist during happiness because that emotion yields such euphoria – you might even say giddiness. Happiness also paints the scenery in full color and adds a sheen to life that can be nearly blinding.

Living in this state is exhilarating but also temporary, because it’s hard to absorb the moment and truly be in it. 

When considering this, it’s no wonder that ailments aren’t noticed during times of content. The misery of a headache is no match for a vacation or news of a promotion. All that’s present is the sense of happiness, which does not permit room for pain.

In contrast, times of melancholy turn life from living color to black and white. The glow of pleasure dissipates even as the world slows to a screeching halt. Into this void of despair creep bothersome ailments that cause even more upset. The headache that had no power when happiness prevailed is now the only thing that matters, just as the toothache has an iron-clad grip on the body. Even the mosquito bite itches infuriatingly and seems to have miraculously spread from just the ankle to all parts of the body.

Being sad is not the end of the world. It is human nature that emotions come and go in a constantly evolving circle.

Just as pure, unadulterated happiness does not last, so too does sadness eventually leave. It is impossible to sustain an ongoing state of either (except in the case of clinical depression, which is not the subject of this discussion), and it is the simple fluctuation of moods that allows us to be human. We respond one way to one circumstance and another to a different circumstance. That is the natural cycle of life.

It can therefore be safely assumed that mosquito bites and muscle aches don’t magically disappear with a good mood. This would give too much credit to unseen cosmic forces. Instead, these ailments become more pronounced when our mental states are less than perfect. Maybe life intends it this way, so the mind and body are in perfect sync and disappointing sickness or pain does not impede on happiness. Or maybe we control our own physical well-being more than we realize, meaning our bodies respond to our moods. If that’s the case, each of us should put on a smile and think lots of happy thoughts.

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