What have emotions got to do with symptoms?


Emotions connect us with our intuition, they guide us toward safety and pleasure while helping us avoid danger.

Emotions are not the same as thoughts; instead, they’re felt in our bodies. Many people feel their emotions in certain places in the body.

For example, fear might be felt as butterflies in the stomach. Joy might be felt as a pleasant, energizing warmth. Sadness can feel empty or heavy. Shame can feel like a contraction in the body’s core.

Basic emotions are felt in the body because they go along with measurable changes in bodily functions. For example, when the breathing rate is slow and regular, we tend to feel happy and calm. If breathing is slow and irregular, we tend to feel sad.

Emotional Patterns

Emotions are complex, and each person’s emotional patterns vary, but understanding and working with our emotions can have a big impact on symptoms.


Here are some emotional patterns that can maintain physical symptoms:


    1. Difficulty Accepting or Expressing Emotions:

      If you try to reject emotions by pushing them down, they can cause more problems like tension, bodily stress or pain. When emotions are accepted and allowed, they move through the body without causing lasting distress.

    2. Unrecognized Emotions:

      Some people might have trouble telling when bodily sensations are emotional. For example, many people get the sensation of ‘heart-ache’ when they are grieving. If you don’t recognize you feel sad, you might interpret this feeling as a painful stomach ache.

    3. Drowning Out Feelings:

      The body has unconcious ways of blocking out uncomfortable feelings.  For example, we can dissociate or the brain generates pain, so we dont have to feel intense difficult emotions.

    4. Intense Emotions

      Strong negative emotions amplify physical sensations. When you have emotions that are intense and sudden, this can go along with unpredictable, difficult to manage, symptoms.

Therapist Tip Sticker

Transforming emotions through the body

If you find that your emotions get on top of you, one way to break the cycle is to notice what your bodily response is, and intentionally do the opposite. 

For example, when you feel sad, instead of withdrawing into yourself, you can choose stetch your arms behind you, open your chest, look up, and breath evenly. 

Practicing this way, you can become curious about how your different emotions effect you physically and learn how to transform them through the body.