Listening to my body

Several years ago I had a therapist who would always ask, “Where do you feel that in your body?”  I found it very annoying and disruptive to my train of thought in a session.  At the time I was having a hard time acknowledging that I have any feelings – yes, I was brand new to this whole emotional awareness thing.  Once I acknowledged the feelings, I was working on being able to really identify them and put that into words.  And my therapist expected me to make all of those leaps and figure out where in my body the feelings were?  Fat chance, lady.  We broke up after a few months, with very little fanfare.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself thinking of that therapist – more than a bit grudgingly.

I’ve gotten better at identifying my feelings and understanding more about them.  I’ve learned more about mind-body connections.  And for the past few mornings, within the first minute or two of waking up, I’ve realized that there is a heaviness in my gut (for lack of a better word).  I recognize that this is linked to anxiety and stress about this week.  The details of my stressors aren’t worth listing here, except to note that my parents and my sister are coming to visit over the Easter weekend.  Enough said?

I get it now that my body is giving me clues about my mental state.  This morning I tried to do deep breathing before I even got out of bed, but had only limited success in relaxing.  Instead, as the kids bounded in, I got up and jumped headlong into my day with all of the triggers just waiting for me.

I know there must be a better way, but I haven’t yet gotten to that chapter in the Anxiety User Manual.

That brings me to my question:  Where do you feel your feelings, especially the “negative” ones like anxiety?  And what do you do when you recognize that they’re there?

I’m thinking that I need to add another set of tools to my toolbox.

 

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11 thoughts on “Listening to my body

  1. I use this a lot – I like to joke that my superpower is psychosomaticism! My body often tells me things I may not otherwise be aware of. An “easy” example is how my toes go numb 10 minutes before the end of each therapy session – because I never want to leave at the end. A “more difficult” example would be how we were talking about something in therapy yesterday, and I got what I call my “clear as a bell” feeling in my heart, which means that my mind/body thinks we’ve just been talking about something especially truthful.

    If you’re looking for something to add to your toolkit, I’d highly recommend this skill! It works really well for me.

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    • Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. That’s amazing that you feel your toes go numb in connection with the end of your sessions. It makes me wonder what my poor body has been trying to tell me for years but I haven’t been listening! 🙂 I suppose now is better than never as far as starting to listen and really pay attention.

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      • Ah! I see I had already read and commented on this post! (Extreme stress mucks with my memory.) The other good thing about the mind-body connection is when you can use it the other way – use your body to send soothing messages to your mind. Yes, this is a real thing, not just something I made up 🙂 So if you’re feeling very anxious, deliberately half smiling (twitching the smile muscles at the sides of your lips) will help calm you – it’s a vagus nerve thing; just don’t grin, because that uses similar muscles to a grimace, which can send the wrong message entirely. Also, if you’re very tense, relaxing your jaw and shoulders and fists can do wonders for your overall stress levels. I’ve written “you” here and I really should have written “me”! I’d be curious to know whether any of these work for you.
        xx DB

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  2. I really believe in the mind-body connection. I was a slow learner too. 😉 It took me becoming completely unable to use my nose, being unable to go half a minute without a Kleenex in hand, and breaking out into my worst psoriasis yet before I finally broke down. I wasn’t getting the memos! That’s why I’m so cautious now when I get sick.
    My favourite part of the mind-body connection is that sometimes you can help the mind by doing something for the body. I think I find it easier to be nicer to my body. In any case, one thing that helped me was massage therapy. Being able to tackle the deep knots, to release them and get my body working better really helped me mentally and emotionally. Definitely a great tool. 🙂 xx

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  3. Thanks for reading! I like your idea that it’s easier to be nicer to your body. And thanks for the suggestion of massage therapy. I’ve never been a massage person but maybe now would be a good time to give it a try. Thanks!

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