Emotions are an integral part of our human experience, and they can have a profound effect on our physical and mental health. When we experience emotions like anger, sadness, or anxiety, our bodies respond by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can cause physical reactions such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and muscle tension. These physical responses can be helpful in some situations, such as when we need to react quickly to a potential threat, but they can also have negative effects on our bodies if we store them in our body, experience them chronically or to an extreme degree.
Stored emotions can cause problems in a few different ways. When we experience emotions, our bodies release hormones and chemicals that can cause physical sensations like muscle tension, increased heart rate, and shallow breathing. If we don't fully process and express these emotions, they can become "stored" in our bodies, leading to chronic tension, pain, and other physical symptoms.
For example, if you experience chronic stress or anxiety, you may notice that you carry tension in your neck and shoulders, leading to headaches or neck pain. This tension can become chronic if you don't address the underlying emotional causes of your stress or anxiety.
Additionally, stored emotions can impact our immune system and overall health.
Studies have shown that chronic stress and negative emotions can increase inflammation in the body, which can lead to a range of health problems including chronic pain, digestive issues, and even heart disease.
Finally, stored emotions can impact our mental health and well-being, leading to symptoms like depression, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. When we don't process and express our emotions, they can build up over time, leading to a sense of emotional numbness or disconnection from ourselves and others.
Our emotions are not just a mental experience; they can also manifest physically in our bodies.
People drew maps of body locations where they feel basic emotions (top row) and more complex ones (bottom row). Hot colours show regions that people say are stimulated during the emotion. Cool colours indicate deactivated areas. Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa
One of the challenges with emotions is that they can sometimes be difficult to express or even identify. We may feel a sense of shame or embarrassment about certain emotions, we may not know how to work through our emotions, which can cause us to suppress them or hide them from others. This can be especially true for emotions like sadness, fear, or vulnerability, which can be seen as signs of weakness in some cultures or social contexts.
However, suppressing or denying our emotions can have negative consequences for our mental and physical health.
Studies have shown that people who suppress their emotions are more likely to experience chronic stress, depression, and anxiety, and may have a higher risk of developing physical health problems like heart disease and chronic pain.
Our emotions can have a significant impact on our physical well-being, and sometimes, these emotions may be hidden or buried deep within our bodies.
All those colorful old expressions“cold feet,” “butterflies in the stomach,” “chill up my spine”are just a handful of the embodied emotions mapped by neuroscientist Lauri Nummenmaa and co-authors Riitta Hari, Enrico Glerean, and Jari K. Hietanen.
One way to address hidden emotions is to engage in practices that help us become more aware of our emotions and express them in a healthy way. This might involve practices like journaling, meditation, or therapy, which can help us identify and explore our feelings in a safe and supportive environment. It can also be helpful to build a support network of trusted friends, family members, or professionals who we can talk to about our emotions without fear of judgment or rejection.
Sometimes, we may be aware of the emotions we are feeling, but at other times, they may be hidden or buried deep within us. By learning how to identify and process these hidden emotions, we can improve our overall health and well-being.
Here are some tips on how to find hidden emotions in your body:
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. By tuning in to your body and paying attention to how it feels, you may be able to identify hidden emotions that are manifesting physically.
Body Scanning: Take a few minutes to scan your body from head to toe, paying attention to any areas of tension, discomfort, or pain. These physical sensations may be an indication of underlying emotional stress or trauma.
Breathwork: Focused breathing exercises can help you become more aware of your body and its sensations. By taking deep, slow breaths and directing your attention inward, you may be able to uncover hidden emotions that are impacting your physical well-being.
Movement and Exercise: Physical activity can help release pent-up emotions and tension in the body. Engaging in regular exercise or movement practices like walking, yoga or dance can help you access and process hidden emotions. For strong emotions like anger, jumping up and down, working out in a body of water, even throwing large rocks can do wonders in getting it out.
Journaling: Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be a powerful tool for uncovering hidden emotions. As you journal, pay attention to any physical sensations or changes in your body that may indicate underlying emotional stress.
Finding hidden emotions in our bodies can be a powerful tool for personal growth and healing. Whether through mindfulness practices, body scanning, breathwork, movement, or journaling, it's important to tune into our bodies and pay attention to any physical sensations that may be an indication of underlying emotional stress. By taking the time to uncover and process these hidden emotions, we can improve our mental, emotional, and physical well-being, and create a more fulfilling and satisfying life. Sometimes uncovering hidden emotions can be a complex process, and it's okay to seek professional support if needed. A therapist or counselor can help guide you through the process of identifying and processing hidden emotions, allowing you to move forward with greater clarity and self-awareness.
Emotions are a natural and important part of our human experience, and it's important to acknowledge and express them in a healthy way. While it can be challenging to confront hidden emotions, doing so can have significant benefits for our mental and physical health, and can help us lead more fulfilling and authentic lives.
Kristina Le Claire is a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in helping people find their inner light. Her Hypnotherapy and Clinical Practice are designed to empower, showing that anyone can change their life path, regardless of circumstances and to understand that the key in changing their lives is to believe anything is possible. If you'd like help to find + release the emotions you have hidden in your body, contact The Good Light Hypnosis