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An Unwell Body: When you Don’t Speak, your Body Does. (Series 2, part 1)

Updated: Feb 17

Emotions are also physiological processes!

As you may know, there is an inseparable connection between our minds and our bodies. Our emotions are not necessarily isolated experiences in our minds; in fact, emotions are full-blown physiological occurrences manifested in our physical bodies.

The times when we learned that our feelings are in ‘our heads’ have certainly been long gone! There is no escape from the science revealing that our emotions influence our entire physiological system, including our body’s biochemical processes, nervous system, and brain function. In short, emotions have an immense impact on all functions in your body. Let me give you a couple of simple examples to illustrate the body’s work when we simply feel.

When you laugh, feel happy or joyful, your body creates a sequence of physiological processes including a release of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin, your muscles ease tension and your body becomes able to digest, rest and restore. Furthermore, your cognitive capacity will function bright and sharp.

On the contrary, when you feel angry, stressed, or worried, your body reacts by producing levels of the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol, increasing your heart rate and tension in your muscles. These emotions slow down your body’s ability to digest, and your cognitive capacity becomes hindered.

It is not only our mind working so hard when we feel. The physical part of ourselves never stays behind, it quickly joins the feeling experience, and it does it with an even larger ‘performance’!

Suppressing emotions is physiologically even bigger hard work!

I agree, that allowing feelings such as anger, frustration, or fear to the surface is not a very nice experience, but sadly, it is a necessary one to keep ourselves healthy.

It would be wonderful if there was a magic formula to delete these unpleasant feelings when they struck, but no surprise here, there isn’t one.

The only way to ‘get rid of’ challenging feelings is by allowing them to manifest fully, confronting them, voicing, or writing them out.


You may attempt to ‘help’ yourself to escape your painful experience by suppressing challenging emotions, but by doing so, your body’s stress response largely increases, and your body begins to work extremely hard to respond to this mind-body conflict. Your feelings want to be heard, and so does your body!

Have you ever tried to put a lid on a streaming fountain of water? This is how I visualise attempting to put a lid on emotions. Equally to the fountain of water, emotions will always push themselves through while you exhaust yourself suppressing them.

In my therapeutic practice, I often hear confessions such as: “I tried to bury my emotions in the hope that they will eventually go”, or “I bottled my feelings so deep, I forgot they existed, but then I got unwell”.

Unnoticed, suppressed, or held-back emotions do not allow your body to complete its natural physiological response. Instead, they cause your body to become stuck in a stress loop of ‘unfinished business’.

In other words, you cannot bury emotions when they are alive, you may push them down for a short while, but sooner or later they will come back unannounced, bigger, and stronger, and they will take your exhausted body down too.

‘Emotionally unfinished business’ is harmful to your body!

Emotional unfinished business lingers and lingers, slowly affecting your energy, your gut, joints, muscles, heart, breathing, sleeping, eating, alertness, restlessness, your endocrine system, immune system, and the list goes on.

Expressing and neutralising your emotions, on the other hand, can offer significant health benefits to your body, your mind, and your personal growth. Do not try to stop the ‘fountain’, you will not succeed; instead, you will exhaust your mind and your body will get unwell.


Join me next time to discover 'Why talking therapies can heal'. 

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