Why Should I Care About My Emotions?
Think about your daily life and how your day goes, from the moment you wake to the moment you go to sleep. Now think about how much your average day is impacted by emotions.
You may feel embarrassed or anxious when your boss is short with you in a meeting. You might get angry or surprised when cut off in traffic. You may feel peaceful or joyful as you laugh with friends at dinner. There is almost no area in our life that escapes the influence of emotions. They impact our physical, psychological, sexual, relational and spiritual health in many ways.
When you start to feel an emotion, the emotion first shows up in your body through sensations. Your heart might begin to race when scared, or your eyes may be filled with tears when sad, or a weight may sit in your stomach when feeling guilty. The physical sensations can range from pleasant to uncomfortable, or even in some cases painful. A lot of people tend to be okay with the energy or lightness we receive from happiness in our body, but want to avoid the heaviness or emptiness that can come from sadness. If you never check in with the sensations or signals your body is trying to send to you, it can lead to some unwanted consequences.
We have found that our physical health is intricately intertwined with our emotional health. An example would be an emotion, such as anxiety or anger, in which both are connected to hormones of cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are known for getting the body to respond quickly, like in times of danger when they increase our heart rate, restrict our breathing, and tighten our muscles. If we never address the emotions of anger or anxiety it can stress our body due to the constant drip of stress hormones leading to headaches, muscle aches, stomach issues, heart issues, etc. Other areas of life can be affected as well as these emotions affect our relationships and choices at work, at home, and beyond. The longer emotions go unchecked the more intense the impact can be in our lives.
It is not all bad though, we have found a positive impact on our emotions throughout life as well. Looking back at the stress hormones we know that a short duration of them like on a roller coaster or while taking a test can lead to improved mood, growth in confidence, and improved breathing. We also know emotions like sadness, while they may not feel great in our bodies, can lead to a deeper relational connection and increase empathy. Emotions are how we experience life, if we did not have the uncomfortable feelings we would never understand or experience the amazingly pleasurable ones. When we find a balance in our life we can find health and more peace.
How Do I Start to Care About My Emotions?
So now we know how important it is to know our emotions, here is how we start the journey to understanding them.
First things first, we need to build a relationship with our body. We need to slow down and listen to what it is communicating. It is not as difficult or as strange as it sounds. Look over the feelings wheel linked and the list of sensation words. We can set aside time each day and quickly note how our body feels.
Check in from the top of your head to the bottom of your toes. Check in with your face, neck, shoulders, arms, legs, stomach, chest, pelvis, and feet.
Write down what you feel and then check the feelings wheel to see what those sensations in your body are pointing to. Maybe your heart is racing which may be anxiety or maybe your body feels heavy which could be sadness.
Once we have the sensations we can more easily name the emotion. Once we can give our emotions a name and space to exist the more we can learn how to respond to them and manage them.
Feelings Wheel: https://feelingswheel.com/
Physical Sensations List: https://www.hilaryjacobshendel.com/putting-words-on-emotions-and-sensation
written by Catherine Johnson, PLPC
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