Emotional balance: what are emotions and why do they happen?

In 1884, the psychologist William James was the first person to ask himself what is emotion? (Adolphs, 2020). Even since, more than a century has passed and we don’t have an answer yet. But something clear is that emotions exist and impact us, mainly in certain life stages like menopause, where emotional balance is important.

If you want to know more, we will discuss it below! First, let’s check out some information about how we understand emotions nowadays (Herrando, 2021; Reddy, 2014):

  • We can understand emotions as exciting sensations that can be negative or positive.
  • As we feel and understand emotions will depend on our brain status and the environment where we are.
  • That explains, for example, how a joke may be hilarious to us one day, but in another moment when we are under pressure and stress, the same joke can be annoying.

Following these ideas, a lot of scientists believe that a group of basic emotions exists, such as (Ortony, 2021; UWA Online, 2019):

  • Sadness: deep sensation of hopelessness and shame, we may even cry or frown.
  • Happiness: a pleasant status where we feel joy, satisfaction or fun.
  • Fear: an answer to unknown things. We are worried and in an alert mood.
  • Anger: we may feel this emotion as a hard frustration or even respond in a hostile and aggressive manner.
  • Surprise is a short status that happens during unexpected events.
  • Displeasure: it happens when we feel a strong sensation of repulsion or disgust.

Every day we can go through the different basic emotions and may even feel others that are more complex.

Today we explain what influences these changes and how to achieve emotional balance during menopause.

Which factors impact our emotions and make them change?

As we mentioned above, emotions can appear and change depending on the presence of many internal factors and the external environment. Here are some examples:

  • Environmental aspects: weather changes (cold, hot, rain), uncomfortable places (such as a small or noisy office), busy environments etc.
  • Internal aspects: being hungry, experiencing stress, feeling pain, and going through hormonal alterations such as menopause.

Emotional changes, hormones, and menopause

During this life stage, the levels of hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) decreases. When that happens, unpleasant symptoms can appear like hot flushes, sleeping troubles or fatigue.

Furthermore, the hormone's diminution changes our brain functioning.

All of these predispose the emotional state and provoke emotions such as anger, sadness, or displeasure in normal day-to-day situations.

Therefore, achieving emotional balance and emotional resilience is key during this time. Some of advantages are (Süss, 2021):

  • Menopause symptoms (like hot flushes) are less common.
  • Fewer stress levels and depressive sensations.
  • Improve self-esteem and auto-perception (how we see and appreciate ourselves).
  • In general terms, it enhances a woman’s quality of life.

Emotional balance: tips to achieve it

The key to emotional balance is not repressing it but promoting your overall well-being of the body, mind, and our environment. Helpful tips to achieve emotional stability are (Johnson, 2021):

  • Don’t leave your social life in the past. Meet your friends and family. Reach out to them for support if you need it.
  • Eat a balanced diet that contains different food groups with many nutrients.
  • Make sure your foods contain vegetables and different types of grains, avoiding fats and seasonings (Afridi, 2017).
  • Take calcium and other supplements, such as D, C and E vitamins.
  • Exercise benefits contribute to emotional balance. It strengthens the bones and can help to decrease the risk of diseases like diabetes mellitus (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2021).
  • Among the most suggested exercises are aerobic activities, which include walking, swimming and cycling.
  • You should practice at least 150 minutes per week of these exercises (WHO, 2021)
  • Good rest is highly important for emotional stability. Practising sleep hygiene can help you to avoid sleep disorders (NIH, 2021)

Now that you know the benefits and advantages of emotional balance, we encourage you to incorporate these tips into your routine to enable you to have a healthy life during the menopause.

References

Adolphs, R., Mlodinow, L., & Barrett, L. F. (2019). What is an emotion?. Current biology: CB, 29(20), R1060–R1064. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.008

Afridi, I. (2017). Psychological and Social Aspects of Menopause. A Multidisciplinary Look at Menopause. 10.5772/intechopen.69078

Herrando, C., & Constantinides, E. (2021). Emotional Contagion: A Brief Overview and Future Directions. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 712606. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.712606

Johnson, T. (2021). Menopause Emotions, depression, moodiness, and more. WebMD. Retrieved from: https://www.webmd.com/menopause/guide/emotional-roller-coaster

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021). Fitness tips for menopause: Staying active. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/fitness-tips-for-menopause/art-20044602

NIH. (2021). Sleep problems and menopause: What can I do? National Institute on Aging. Retrieved from: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/sleep-problems-and-menopause-what-can-i-do

OMS. (2020). Actividad Física. World Health Organization. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/physical-activity

Ortony, A. (2021). Are All “Basic Emotions” Emotions? A Problem for the (Basic) Emotions Construct. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 174569162098541. doi:10.1177/1745691620985415

Reddy, R. P., Korde, S. P., Kanungo, S., Thamodharan, A., Rajeswaran, J., Bharath, R. D., Upadhya, N., Panda, R., & Rao, S. L. (2014). Neural Correlates of Emotion: Acquisition versus Innate View Point. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 36(4), 385–391. https://doi.org/10.4103/0253-7176.140720

Süss, H., Willi, J., Grub, J., & Ehlert, U. (2021). Psychosocial factors promoting resilience during the menopausal transition. Archives of women's mental health, 24(2), 231–241. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-020-01055-7

UWA Online. (2019). Our basic emotions infographic: List of human emotions. The University of West Alabama. Retrieved from: https://online.uwa.edu/infographics/basic-emotions/


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