Listening to your body

I am one of these people whose emotions manifest somewhere in their bodies, almost instantaneously! Particularly anxiety or worry will be felt in my stomach usually as a swirling emotion and sadness/grief in my chest or head area. The other part of my body that carries my emotions is my lower back- not all of my back pain is emotionally connected, but when I am feeling down or having relationship issues, my lower back will often hurt.

I have learned to use this as a guidance system to what is going on inside of me and to bring things into awareness that I was out of touch about and then take care of the emotions in some way. For me taking care of worry or anxiety is doing soothing self talk and exercise. I am amazed that even a 5 minute walk with almost always reduce any anxiety I feel. When I am sad or feeling down, what helps me is to journal and to connect with others, and then I usually feel the physical sensations subside.

With the individuals I have seen in therapy, I have had a front row seat in seeing how our emotions manifest in our bodies from fainting, vomiting, heart palpitations, tingly sensations, headaches, movement problems to high blood pressure influenced by stress.

I do believe in a balanced approach to physical pain/problems that may have an emotional component. First and foremost, any medical causes have to be ruled out/ruled in! Then we can look at the mind/body connection and how our emotions may be influencing the physical.
A quick way to see if your bodily sensations are emotionally connected is to:

  • Scan your body in your mind. This can be quick, but notice what sensations are at each part, if any.
  • Describe the sensation, what does it feel like.
  • Ask yourself if this sensation is connected to anything in your life.
  • If an emotion/situation does get identified in this process, take some steps to listen to it and address it (talking, exercising, journaling, positive self talk, etc).