Lets explore emotions and the impact they have on your physical body.
Unresolved emotions and emotional traumas are often stored within the physical body. Throughout our lives we develop pain and problems as a result of the build up of emotions in our tissues.
One way that we suppress our feelings is by tensing our bodies.
Think about it - when you are stressed, or in emotional pain, is there an area of your body that you tend to notice that experience most? Where do you hold the stress and tension in your body? When you're holding back tears, are your shoulders and chest tight? How about your neck and throat?
Starting to sound familiar?
We often overlook the roll our emotions play in the physical pain and the build up that accumulates in our bodies. We've all heard that it's important that we feel our feelings. But what does that really mean?
It means that when we can experience our emotions fully by paying attention to our thoughts, feelings and our felt sense (in the body) to develop emotional awareness and emotional release. When we deny, suppress or hold back our emotions - they find a home, in the tissue of our bodies.
Check out the list below to support your understanding of where your emotions may be stored, and how they may be showing up in your body from head to toe:
The head houses our mental and reasoning abilities, and our psychological skills of evaluating our beliefs, attitudes and experiences - what we know, what we believe to be true, facts, fears, personal experiences, and memories that are continually active and present here.
Fears that may activate headaches include - an unwillingness to look within and excavate your fears, fear of the truth, fear of judgement, fear of having to rely on others, fear of discipline, fear of ones shadow side.
If you are experiencing tension in your head, consider ..
What is this headache trying to tell me?
What fears do I need to confront and tend to?
What stories am I holding onto?
What needs to be released from my mind?
The neck is the connector, the part of the body that separates our head and the rest of our body. Often times, we spend a whole lot of time up in our head and remain disconnected or cut off from our body. This can place a strain on our neck, and can keep us from being fully integrated - mind and body.
Fears may also be present in relation to perceived danger - following a significant loss and the impact of grief, you may begin to hold tension in your neck due to feeling unsafe in the world as the neck is a vulnerable area of your physical body. The neck is also the physical placement of the throat chakra which is the energetic space of our voice and self-expression.
If you are experiencing tension in your neck, consider ..
Do I feel safe and free to express myself?
In what ways am I holding back my full and truthful expression?
What fears are present?
Am I sensing any physical danger?
What do I need in order to feel safe?
You’ve probably heard the saying “it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders” - there is a reason people say this, and it quite literally might feel like that. When we are feeling weighted down by the stressors of life, we tend to accumulate and hold these feelings in our shoulders.
Shoulder tension is often related to life burdens and responsibilities. If you are holding a lot, or caring for others often, you may notice tension in your shoulders as a result.
If you are experiencing shoulder tension, consider ..
How much weight am I carrying around?
Am I carrying any burdens that aren’t mine?
Am I taking on weight for other people?
What would it be like to off load and put down the weight?
TENSION IN THE UPPER BACK
The upper back is the back side of your heart. When you are navigating painful emotional experiences such as grief, sorrow and sadness, the upper back is often impacted as a result of the emotional strain on the heart. Unexpressed and unreleased sadness tends to build up within the upper back region. It may also carry the residual tension from the shoulders as well. Fears and anxieties are often stored here.
If you are experiencing tension in your upper back, consider ..
Hows my heart?
How can I tend to my heart space today?
When was the last time I allowed myself to freely express my sadness?
What fears and anxieties am I holding onto right now?
TENSION IN THE LOWER BACK
The low back carries a lot of weight, if you are noticing pain or tension in this area of your body, it may be an indication that you are feeling unsupported - either from yourself or others.
In the book The Body Heals itself, author Emily Francis refers to the sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of the spine) as the sacred bone. She notes that it can hold a great amount of fear - particularly fears of financial insecurity, fears of moving forward in life, and the fears associated with loss of people and moving on/forward without them.
If you are experiencing tension in your lower back, consider ..
Where have I been bending over backward in my life?
Who has my back?
Does my money or finances need my attention?
Am I noticing fears about my next chapter?
What is ending and who am I leaving behind?
TENSION IN THE STOMACH & DIGESTION
Digestive issues are highly common following a loss. Tension or issues in the stomach are often connected to our inability to process our emotions fully.
You may feel “sick to your stomach”, and the reality is that you belly and digestive system may be tied up in knots, and shut down due to the intense out pour of emotions and hormones that are exceeded to support the emotional process.
If you are experiencing tension in your stomach and/or digestion, consider ..
What emotions need my attention right now?
In what ways can I soothe my belly?
How can I express and/or release my emotions?
You’ve heard the saying, “they're a pain in my butt” right? Anger, frustrations, and even rage can be stored in the glutes. When you find yourself frustrated by another, check in with yourself, are you holding tension in this area of your body?
If you are experiencing tension in your glutes, consider ..
In what areas of my life do I notice anger surfacing?
Am I holding onto any anger, resentment or frustration?
How can I safely release and express my anger/frustration?
Our legs are our ticket out of dangerous and uncomfortable situations, we are biologically designed to run in the face of danger. During times of loss, our fight-or-flight system may be highly activated because the worst has just happened and we are now on high alert. Fear and discomfort can be stored in the inner thighs, to remind us that we are not feeling safe and may need to take off at any time.
If you are experiencing tension in your inner thighs, consider ..
What dangerous or uncomfortable situations have you found yourself in recently?
What fears are presenting?
What needs to be put in place to increase you sense of safety and security?
Seek out ways to calm and soothe the nervous system
The busier we are, the quicker we need to move throughout life. Frustrations, impatience and a hurried attitude can be stored in our legs and outer tights. Its almost as if we can't move fast enough and our legs are the vehicle to get us where we need to be.
If you are experiencing tension in your outer thighs, consider ..
How might you allow yourself to slow down?
What frustrations and/or timelines are preventing you from allowing yourself to pump the breaks and slow down?
Can you give yourself permission to take things a little slower today?
As humans, we are deeply emotional beings. Our emotions are one of the key ways we connect with one another and interact with the world around us. When we are in balance, our emotions are relative to what is happening around us - we respond to our environment and experiences. When we are unable to express our emotions, this creates an imbalance within us (as seen above).
There are various ways of releasing emotional tension and moving our emotions out of our bodies rather than storing them inside (where over time they wreck havoc on our entire system).
Visit 10 Ways to Heal Trapped Emotions to learn more about how to release trapped emotions and tension stored in the body.
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3 Effective Ways to Release Emotions from the Body
About the Author:
Hayley Yarish is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), Compassionate Bereavement Care Provider, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, Reiki and Energy Practitioner. She specializes in supporting individuals who are navigating loss and grief of any kind. Her own experiences with grief and loss have cracked her heart wide open and led her to doing this sacred work in the world.
Specific areas of focus: death of a loved one (recent or past), life changing transitions, relationship transitions and break ups, pregnancy loss, grief around family planning, and supporting entrepreneurs through the grief that comes with growth.
To learn more about Hayley or to book a session with her, click here.