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  • Writer's pictureDezerrae Sanchez

What happens when we start to actually feel our emotions?

looking out at an ocean shoreline from a cave with a large rock formation in front

It's Wednesday! Midweek is here, and we are making it through.

I wanted to briefly share some information about how our bodies and emotions are linked and how we can address both to help us heal. The connection between the body and emotions is an intricate and complex relationship that has been studied for centuries. Many people understand that emotions can have a significant impact on the body, but the connection goes both ways. The body also has a profound effect on emotions, and understanding this relationship can lead to a more balanced and healthier life.

The first thing to understand is that emotions are not just in the mind, but they are also felt in the body. When you experience an emotion, such as fear, anger, or happiness, your body reacts in a specific way. For example, fear can cause your heart to race, your palms to sweat, and your muscles to tense up. Happiness can cause a feeling of lightness, and anger can cause a feeling of tightness and tension.

This physical reaction to emotions is due to the release of chemicals and hormones in the body. When you experience an emotion, your brain sends signals to different parts of the body, releasing hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, and dopamine. These chemicals affect different parts of the body, causing the physical sensations that are associated with emotions.

While emotions can have a profound effect on the body, the opposite is also true. The body can also affect emotions. For example, when you feel stressed or anxious, your body can become tense, and you may experience physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach pain. These physical symptoms can then lead to further emotional distress, creating a cycle of stress and anxiety.

However, the connection between the body and emotions is not just limited to negative emotions. Positive physical experiences can also have a positive effect on emotions. Exercise, stretching, and other body work, for example, has been shown to release endorphins, which can help improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

Another way in which the body can affect emotions is through posture. Studies have shown that standing up straight and adopting a confident posture can help increase feelings of confidence and reduce feelings of anxiety. Ever heard of the Superman pose? Stand in front of the mirror, strike Superman's iconic pose of chest out, hands on hips, and look yourself straight in the eye. Tell yourself you are going to rock the day. On the other hand, slouching and adopting a closed posture can make you feel more anxious and less confident. While curling up within ourselves may feel good in the moment, it can create and perpetuate low mood and isolation.

Breathing is another area where the body and emotions are connected. Deep breathing exercises have been shown to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. By taking slow, deep breaths, you can help calm the body and reduce the release of stress hormones. Square breathing comes into play to help regulate mood, body, and emotions. Take a breath slowly through your nose and count to 4. Hold that breath in to the count of 4. Blow that breath out like you are blowing out a candle to the count of 4. Wait to the count of 4 before starting again. Check out the video below to walk through square breathing.

The connection between the body and emotions is also important when it comes to mental health. Research has shown that trauma and stress can be stored in the body, leading to physical symptoms such as chronic pain and tension. Therapies such as yoga and massage can help release these stored emotions, leading to improved mental and physical health. Address and processing trauma can help increase relaxation and calmness throughout your body as well.

In addition to physical therapies, there are also a variety of mental and emotional techniques that can help improve the connection between the body and emotions. Mindfulness, for example, can help you become more aware of the physical sensations associated with emotions. By focusing on the sensations in your body, you can better understand the connection between your emotions and physical sensations. Let's notice those thoughts, notice those feelings and sensations, label those feelings, and try to be mindful of the present situation.

Finally, it's important to understand that the connection between the body and emotions is not just limited to individual experiences. Social interactions can also have a profound effect on the body and emotions. For example, studies have shown that holding hands with a loved one, receiving a hug from a friend, or even loving on our pets can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

What is one way you have noticed your emotions affecting your physical body? What is one way you would like to address the two and begin to experience positive change?


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