How Emotions Affect Our Body

Understanding how emotions affect our body so that we can feel our emotions deeply instead of denying them will bring us health and healing!

A lot of people may deny that emotions affect their body. Are you one of them?

'There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.' ~ Maya Angelou

When you are happy and in a positive frame of mind, your body also responds positively and brings you health and healing. When all is well in your life, and you perceive that you are happy, your heart rate slows, your breath becomes deeper and more even, and your blood pressure goes down.

At the opposite end, when you perceive something as negative, or painful or even unsafe, your body responds in the exact opposite manner. Your breathing becomes shallow and rapid, and your heart rate and blood pressure both go up, as you get ready to fight or to run away.

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While it is next to impossible to live a life without any stressful emotions, you can recognize what is happening in your body as a response to your perceptions of what is going on around you. 

You cannot turn off what you label as "negative" because that turns off your emotional engine altogether! If you numb yourself to negative emotions, you also destroy the ability to really feel what is good and happy, and "positive!"

We all need to feel the richness and fullness that all of our experiences bring. We easily embrace the warm feelings of love toward the innocents: the helpless infant as we hold it in our arms, and the little puppy tumbling about. We all experience real joy and happiness when we gaze at a spectacular sunrise, or majestic peaks. We respond positively to music that inspires us. I know of no one who avoids these "positive" and happy emotions!

Flip the coin and no one wants to deeply feel their "negative" emotions that bring them pain. We immediately try to avoid or dismiss strongly negative emotions. Why is that so?

Is it that we have not been taught an appropriate method for emotional release or that we believe that we do not have an appropriate outlet for our emotions? Is it because strong and negative emotions bring us pain and painful memories? Is it because our healthcare providers have not taught us how emotions affect our body?

I am suggesting a new way to look at your ‘negative’ emotions. I am suggesting that you feel them deeply versus denying them! You might think I am a nut, right? Maybe so. But I hope to show you how emotions affect your body. I hope to convince you that emotional release is a necessary thing for your health.

Reflections and MossReflections and Moss

Emotional release is paramount to your health

All of us have suppressed our emotions at one time or another. In fact, most of us develop life-long habits of emotional suppression. We do not realize how emotions affect our body.

Our parents, or socialization has required us to behave in certain ways. We all know the consequences of expressing raw emotions in certain situations. None of us would be able to retain our relationships, in love, in work or anywhere if we expressed every strong emotion we felt!

It is appropriate and healthy to curtail our emotions in the situations that would get us fired, or destroy our relationships and so forth.

The very emotions that we suppress in our adult situations all too often are expressed later as we take them out on our children. Because of our authority over our children, it is all too easy to do. And since all of us were children once, we have been the objects of adult emotions.

In order to be loved, as children, we learn the ways of adults very quickly. If, as children, we show emotions that our parents are not equipped to handle or the emotions that they are trying to suppress, we get beaten, disciplined or ignored or have love withdrawn from us.

We learn quickly that “big boys don’t cry,” or “be brave for mama,” or “get over it,” or “don’t touch yourself there,” or “you ask too many questions,’ or “you talk too much,” etc. If this doesn’t sound familiar, you can probably write your own.

Since our parents learned how to suppress their emotions, most often they are totally unable to handle these same emotions. Is it a surprise that parents are unable to handle their children’s emotions?

As a result we all learn quickly from our role models to suppress our emotions as well. This is denying that you have the emotions, looking the other direction as if they did not exist. When we do this we take no thought to how emotions affect our body!

All of this is done at a subconscious level – we do not think as to how exactly it is that emotions affect our body, it just happens.

Feel it and Heal it!

But your emotions need an outlet. They always come out one way or another, because they are part of who you are. You may believe that you have suppressed them, but instead your body has absorbed them, and is trying to grab your attention by expressing these emotions for you in symptoms, injuries and/or dis-ease. This is how emotions really affect your body.

Instead of feeling your emotions, you deny them. It is your mind that denies the emotions existence. The denial merely buries them deeper into your body and into your soul.

If we are our cells, and all our experiences of life are stored in our cells including our emotions, what is it that you wish to keep there forever? Negative, denied emotions?

The body does not know the difference between a thought, an emotion, a hormone, a biochemical or a molecule of any type. They are all sublimely intertwined!

Negative, strong emotions, or negative ‘energy’ however you wish to label it will remain inside your body-mind-soul and become body-mind-soul issues if you do not deal with them.

Dis-ease, pain, injury and all manner of negative energy will manifest itself in your cells, in your body. This is how emotions affect your body!

Some people are able to release their emotional energy through physical activity. That is why ‘movement therapy’ (See Intuitive Movement) is so important in our lives for emotional release.

These folks are able to feel the energy through movement and heal it by releasing it this way. They may not understand how emotions affect their body, but they do know that they feel much better if they exercise.

Meditation or Contemplative Prayer is also of extreme importance. If we use physical activity in a meditative fashion, we can really accomplish two things at once. For those of us who’s contact with ourselves is so limited, those of us who have difficulty stilling our minds, physical activity may be the only way we can access our body-mind-soul. However you connect with yourself, it is important to just take the time to do it!

Guided meditations can also help you and I am particularly fond of body meditations done in a restorative yoga fashion. The practice of opening your body trains you to open your heart, mind and soul as well!

Conscious Breathing or focusing on the neutral breath, is a very effective tool to help you come back into the present moment. Breathing deeply allows for the quick dissipation of muscular tension.

Vermillion Peak, San Juan Mountains, ColoradoVermillion Peak, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Whichever method we choose, even if it is just hitting the bed or a punching bag with our fists, we need to find a way to release our strong emotions and heal them. We need to feel them fully, release them and heal them. We need to "feel it and heal it!"

Otherwise, the emotions affect our body in a negative fashion as they build up within us.

Emotions are Information Only!

In order to lead happy, joyous and healthy lives, we must claim our emotions, accept them without judgment and learn how to fully feel them. Only in doing this can we truly release them so they cannot block our energy, and do not build up in our bodies.

Emotions are neither wrong nor right. They are neither bad nor good! They just are. We must learn to attach no judgments to our feelings. Emotions are information only. They let us know our inner condition, our inner desires, our true selves. This is a very important concept to understand if we are to understand how emotions affect our body.

So how do we attach no judgment to our feelings? First, we need to be aware we have emotions. Most of us know we have them - we are just unaware of the extent that we deny them and suppress them, or pretend that they don’t exist. We don't understand how emotions affect our body. We learned from our parents that strong emotions are unacceptable so we hide them.

Our emotions also may really frighten us, because to be consciously aware of them might require that we do something about them. The actions required to abate the emotions might be unacceptable to us. These emotions, if conscious, might nudge us to look for other employment or another relationship.

We can still experience our emotions deeply, release them and let them go. We don’t have to store them up. We can understand how these emotions affect us and our body. We can learn to change our response to our emotions, when we cannot change the situation that elicited the emotion.

We will never control the external world. We can only change ourselves and how we respond to the situation. We need to learn to detach from situations that raise our emotions by learning to recognize the emotion, feel it briefly but fully, and then letting it go. When I feel my ire rise, I have learned to take a deep breath and say to myself, “feel it and heal it!”

Staying aware of our emotions is paramount. If we fail to do this and fail to learn to respond in healthy ways, then our emotions affect our body in negative ways.

The 90-second Cure!

When you become stressed, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. This is how emotions affect your body.

I have read that cortisol or the stress hormone that is activated in our brains in response to emotional situations lasts a mere 90 seconds in our bodies, after the brain releases it.

If the emotion persists beyond 90 seconds it is because we choose to hold it and make it last! Now there is power! We can use this information to learn how emotions affect our body! Even though we cannot control our chemical response to the trigger, we can choose what happens next!

Bridge over Creek in a Forest on the way to Vermillion PeaBridge on the Trail to Vermillion Peak

If you can just wait out the 90 seconds, by feeling the emotion fully and deeply, and then release it we could change our stress patterns.

I suggest breathing deeply, at least 10 times, saying to yourself, “feel it and heal it!” and count to 10 and hopefully 90 seconds will have passed! Passing the time of the 90 seconds while staying conscious of your breath is extremely beneficial!

If you need to clench your fists, or beat yourself on the leg first, to help you fully feel the emotion, just do it! Hopefully you aren’t in a meeting at the time! But if you are, you can close your eyes, imagine the fire burning in your heart, and then douse it with water, and watch the smoke dissipate as you say to yourself, “feel it and heal it!”

This will prevent any future build-up in your bodily storage of emotions and pain. Your releasing thoughts will create the physical health, the physical matter for health. Remember the line: “Thought creates matter.” The body knows no difference between your thoughts (emotions) and the stress hormone you released.

Follow up the release by saying positive affirmations after you feel it and heal it! You will be surprised at the difference it makes in your life. Replacing the negative emotions with positive emotions will heal your body, because positive emotions affect our body in positive ways.

How to Heal our Bodily Stored Pain

Since we now know how emotions affect our body, what do we do about the physical pain that is already stored up in our bodies from our past emotions?

This is where the body exercises through intuitive movement like yoga and foam rolling come in. The process for releasing physical pain is the same as the process for releasing emotional pain, except now the body is the manifestation of our stored emotional pain.

The body is now our key to find what our Body Window is trying to say to us, to tell us where our body-mind-soul issues are. After you have done your body scan and have become aware of where your particular body issues lie, you can begin to listen to your Body Window.

When you are in your intuitive movement, in a stretch or applying pressure to the muscle, when you reach the edge where the pain comes, try to stay with the pain. As you breathe in and stay in the moment, you are really feeling the pain.

Make sure the pain you feel is just mild, just at the edge. If you do it right, the pain should ease with the combined deep breathing and stretch or pressure. If you want to and are ready to go deeper, move deeper or apply just a little more pressure and repeat the process. Slowly and with meditative breath, the muscle will release and you will be left with a feeling of peace.

Just Go With the Flow

Don’t worry if you don’t feel any emotions during this process. Since you now know how emotions affect your body, trust that your body will remember that your mind listened and was aware and your body will feel better.

The process of fully feeling and releasing this embodied emotional pain may take time and practice. If you continue to work on this, and don’t give up, you will reap physical and emotional rewards. You may discover insights about yourself you did not know were there.

If you are truly seeking, you will surely find! The messages are there waiting in your body, waiting until you are ready to hear them! Practice this body awareness technique and listen through your Body Window, to here your body and its message to you.

Just keep the practice quiet and reflective. Set aside time to do your intuitive movement when you will not be disturbed, and set a timer if needed to decrease your worry about time constraints.

I believe that a minimum of 30-40 minutes is necessary to really truly work an area. You will find that the more you do this, the more time you will want to take for your health and happiness. The practice will become addictive.

All of the benefits of feeling it and healing it will come to us because we now know how emotions affect our body!

Just feel it and heal it!

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