Have you ever considered how communication affects your health? Think about how many conversations you have every day— from one-word exchanges to hour-long talks. When communication breaks down— even if it’s momentary— your heart rate speeds up. Next, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels rise. And research shows that stress causes or exacerbates more than 90 percent of all illness. Under prolonged stress, people become susceptible to ailments such as headaches, digestive issues, diabetes, and heart disease.
A clear example of how communication is linked to your health is through your emotions.
Doctor Neha: Hi. Welcome to Talk Rx with Doctor Neha. Today I have a special guest, Suzette, which is one of the people who was in one of my talks. I offered that if anyone in the audience had a question and would like to come on live on Talk Rx that they could join me. Welcome Suzette.
Suzette: Thank you. Good morning. Nice to be here.
Doctor Neha: You said this is something you’ve never done before so it feels a little awkward.
Stan Mackey* was a physician who had joined the hospital team a few years earlier. His introverted nature and matter-of-fact answers rubbed a few of the nurses and physicians the wrong way. He didn’t seem to notice the wake he sometimes left in his path. Personally, I thought he was one of the smartest physicians I knew. I loved consulting with him because he was a human encyclopedia of the latest trials and research and his mannerisms reminded me of one of my favorite professors.
I get questions every day about communication and how to communicate more effectively with the important (and sometimes not so important) people in our lives.
Here are some of the questions I receive most often:
My sister-in-law and I butt heads at every family dinner and it’s driving me crazy. She makes such underhanded and passive-aggressive comments and I don’t know how to handle it. I leave feeling infuriated. What should I say the next time she does it?
My boss never talks to me, just at me. How can I let him know without losing my job?
Dr. Manny Alvarez: It’s no secret that how you handle stress has a big impact on your health; however, what if the key to having an optimal health is in how you communicate during those stressful times? My guest today says her patients’ inability to communicate was literally making them sick, Dr. Neha Sangwan is the author of Talk RX: Five Steps to Honest Conversations That Create Connections, Health & Happiness.
Communication is the key to good health. It is indeed. Tell me, how does communication directly affect anybody’s health?
We’re moving at lightning speed. We’re maxed out, overcommitted, and exhausted. It’s no wonder that one in eight Americans ages 18 and older suffers from an anxiety disorder, and over the last decade, the rates of anti-anxiety and insomnia medication use have skyrocketed.
Anxiety is rooted in a fear of what might happen in the future. I mean think about it—there are so many good things to worry about. They usually start with the words what if followed by some sort of catastrophic thinking:
Dr. Neha: I have an amazing guest with us here today. Her name’s Lori. Hi, Lori. Tell me what’s on your mind.
Lori: Recently, my husband and I filed for divorce. It’s been coming for a while. I have found that telling people one-on-one has not been simple. Most of my friends have experienced the sadness. What is difficult is how to set expectations since our normal sense of social behaviors will be changing and it may or may not meet the expectations of our family and friends depending on where they are in processing this change in our relationship.
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