Strategies for improving your emotional health

September 10, 2018 Joe Brady

New research is validating an idea long held in traditional Chinese medicine that negative emotions can affect health. You can alsolearn to transform the emotions into something positive so that our response to stress can make you stronger. 

Studies have shown stress from lack of control at work or from life events creates susceptibility to cardiovascular disease. Exam stress increases susceptibility to viral infection and animal studies show that emotional distress can affect immune response. Smoking, drinking, and the consumption of high-fat foods may simply be to attempt for people to self-medicate themselves to relieve the stress of modern life. Modern research is demonstrating that there are more wholesome ways to deal with stress, indeed there are techniques to transform stress in ways that make us stronger and better able to deal with the modern world we have created.

Modern Research and Transforming the Emotions

Epidemiological studies have shown that social and emotional support can protect against premature mortality, prevent illness, and aid recovery. 

In a new video from A new video from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative health Dr. Bruce McEwen of the Rockefeller University and Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison discuss how key components in how we deal with stress affect our ability to profit and grow stronger in the face of the stress of modern life.

Having a sense of purpose in your life and acting to further that purpose is an important part of emotional well-being. As with many meditations in traditional Chinese medicine cultivating positive emotions that facilitate interactions among people, such as appreciation, gratitude, kindness, and compassion. Go a long way to helping us use stress to grow stronger instead of being overwhelmed.

Watch the Video

Transforming Stress into Vitality: Healing Sounds Meditation

The resonant frequency of the nervous system is 8 Hertz. Known as alpha waves, this frequency is a marker of a meditative state. When the mind is disturbed by emotions, excessive thinking and stress, brain waves speed up to 30 or so hertz, separating the mind and body. Attributed to Sun Si-Miao of the 7th century they are included in his book Beiji Qian Jin Yao Fang (“Essential Formulas for Emergencies [Worth] a Thousand Pieces of Gold”) the healing sounds are designed to act as a sort of tuning fork. Like tuning a piano they help entrain the brain into a meditative state where it has access to the autonomic nervous system and the healing capacity of the body.

Psychoacoustic Sounds – Certain sounds in nature and certain instruments can be used to tune the brain to alpha waves and have been shown to induce a meditative state.

Nature Sounds Waterfalls, Babbling Brooks, Crickets in a summer cornfield, ocean sounds, rain Forrest sounds and many other sounds in nature can induce alpha states in people, that is probably why people find these sounds particularly soothing.

Musical Instruments Tingshaws, singing bowls, wind gongs, didgeridoos, bullroarers, and many other instruments can be used as a tuning fork to induce meditative states. That is why they are used at monasteries as an aid to meditation.

The healing sounds can be used in conjunction with any Qi Gong exercises and even practiced during rounds of the Tai Chi Chuan forms. Using singing bowls or sounds of nature can amplify the effect until a powerful vibration is set up. 

Healing Sounds in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Element Organs Sound

Earth  Spleen/Stomach Who Whoooo……

Metal  Lung/Large Intestine Sssss Tsss…….

Water  Kidney/Bladder Churee Chhoorrreeee… or mmm…… or wwwww

Wood  Liver/ Gall Bladder SH Shhh…..

Fire   Heart/ Small Intestine Haww Aaaww……

Healing the Emotions, Transforming Stress into vitality

Emotional Associations When the mind is suffering from a particular negative emotion, the feeling can be transformed into its positive counterpart by intoning the healing sound for a period of time.

 Element Instinctive Response … Conscious Choice


  Metal  Grief … COURAGE

  Water  Fear … GENTLENESS (HOPE)

  Wood  Anger … KINDNESS

  Fire  Excess Joy, & hate … LOVE 

Emotional Wellness Toolkit

The National Institutes of health has recently put out an Emotional wellness toolkit containing a variety of techniques for transforming negative emotions into positive forces that strengthen our reactions to the stresses around us. 

“How you react to your experiences and feelings can change over time. Emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times. 

Research has shown these six strategies to be most effective:

  1. Brighten your outlook
  2. Reduce unnecessary stress
  3. Sleep on it and getting a good nights sleep
  4. Coping with Loss
  5. Strengthen your social life
  6. Mindfulness meditation (like the healing sounds meditation)

Click on the link below for checklists on how to improve your health in each area. Click on the images to read articles about each topic. You can also print the checklists separately or all together to share with others or as a reminder to yourself.

Implications for Society at Large

One study examined the relationship between income inequality and responses to the question:

“Do you think that most people would try to take advantage of you if they got the chance?” 

The response of communities to these questions predicted age-adjusted mortality rates better than income inequality. 

Income inequality is not just a fact of life. It could be argued that they are a manifestation of people taking advantage of each other, and that is what causes premature mortality—through the emotional distress it generates.

Solutions to apparently intractable public health problems like inequalities in health and unhealthy lifestyles may, therefore, lie in research into emotional wellbeing. 

Emotional wellbeing and its relation to health

Physical disease may well result from emotional distress

Sarah Stewart-Brown, Director

BMJ. 1998 Dec 12; 317(7173): 1608–1609.

PMCID: PMC1114432

PMID: 9848897