How Emotions Affect the Body
by Aniela Pojar
BA Comm., BA Counselling, Postgrad. Dip. Expressive Therapies
Over the last few decades the field of Mind / Body Medicine has made remarkable contributions that enable us to look at health in a more integrated way, meaning we are beginning to move away from “treating” symptoms in isolation and increasingly become more knowledgeable of the intrinsic connections between our cognitive processes (thoughts), perceptions, immune system, emotions, and neurobiology.
The article below shows a very interesting piece of research where a group of scientists have created visual maps for 14 different emotions. In other words we can now see how certain emotions look like in our body and which body parts show an increase/or decrease of activity based on a particularly felt emotion.
The best way I can think of to describe what emotions are is, very simply put, that they are information. Information that – in order for us to remain healthy – we need to absorb and use in some way.
What does that entail? A few things:
- To become aware of a particular emotion.
- To experience it, which very much requires us I believe to tune our attention into our bodies and the physical sensations that are that emotion.
- To understand it: what this is about for you.
This is not about dwelling on any particular feeling, it is about allowing it full expression, about receiving if you wish the “information” that it carries.
Conversely, not engaging in this process can create all sorts of complications. A lot of research based evidence exists on the correlations between our emotions and physical health (which are in fact not separate at all), ie: prolonged periods of stress lower immune system functionality, heightened anxiety increases the risk of heart disease, those suffering from depression will often experience chest pains or show a decreased appetite and so on and so forth.
Until next time: be well!