By Michelle Wilson, wellness program manager
Emotions and our bodies: making the connection
This month at La Clinica we are focusing on our emotional health and well-being. Our emotional well-being is based on our ability to understand and express our feelings in a healthy, balanced way. It includes our daily internal state and the ways we emotionally process things that happen in our lives.
So, what does this have to do with our bodies? It turns out, our feelings have a big impact on how our bodies feel. When we experience anxiety or fear, our brains send our bodies signals to get us ready to run from danger. This may mean that our lower back feels tighter, our breathing gets shallower, or we feel a nervous tightening in our stomach. This is important if we meet a bear in the woods, but if we aren’t facing actual physical danger, these feelings are a sign that something feels dangerous or concerning. If we are facing something that will take time to heal or change, the feelings can stay in our bodies a long time and cause physical problems.
So, what can we do?
First, if you notice your body giving you signals of emotional stress, take the time to think about what is causing it. Pay attention to the signs your body sends. This is information that can help point you in the right direction in whatever situation you are facing.
Get support from others. Talk to people you trust to help you deal with whatever you are facing. Ask for support so you can make decisions and take steps in a positive direction.
Take care of your body and your feelings. Take warm baths. Rest when you need to. Eat healthy food. Spend time in nature. When life feels challenging and our feelings are churning, we often skip the healthy habits we create for ourselves, but this is the most important time to stick to them. Take walks or get other forms of exercise, give your body what it needs, and pamper yourself when you are feeling lots of stress or anxiety.
Remember that joy and gratitude will help your body and your emotions. When we feel joy, even for a few minutes, it helps to change the chemicals running through our bodies, which supports our health. When we focus our thoughts on what we appreciate instead of the challenges we are facing, our bodies relax and we feel stronger and more able to handle what’s happening.
As we continue to go through challenges related to the pandemic, fires, and other changes happening in our world, we all have a right and a responsibility to take care of our emotions. This will help our bodies be healthier, too.
Tip: If you don’t already write in a journal, consider starting one. Find a notebook or a journal with a cover that draws your eye or decorate one yourself. Write notes on how you feel each day, draw, copy lines from books you’ve read that inspire you, or use it as a way to process whatever is happening in your life. This is a gift you can give yourself every day or as often as you can create the time to open the cover of your journal.