Your body reflects your emotions, so loosen up

Here's how you can react physically to cope when the mental pressures of the world start to weigh on you


Faith WoodRobert, as a hyperactive child, was constantly told to stop fidgeting. When he felt the urge to fidget, he remembered his mother’s disapproval and clenched his fists and held his arms rigidly at his sides.

He spent so much of his life clenching his fists and holding himself rigidly that he appeared stiff and lifeless. His energy was so restricted by his body that he couldn’t let it out.

Many respected forms of therapy are based on the theory that your body is a map of your emotions. By noticing how your body reacts, you can begin to alter how and when negative emotions show up in your life.

When we talk negatively about politics, the economy or anything else that adds stress to our lives, a correlating movement in the body happens. The longer we hang onto these angry emotions, the harder it is to feel enthusiastic and respond with vibrant physical energy in all the other areas of our life. We become hostages to those worries and frustrations.

Do you remember being told as a kid not to make faces because it would get stuck like that? There’s perhaps more truth to that than we thought.

Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and realized you’ve been frowning for a long time?

If you start by being aware of what you’re putting out there, you can begin to change it.

Your body is like a museum of all your past emotions.

As a baby, you were loose, vulnerable, open, relaxed, ready for action, mobile and able to reach out in all directions. Energy flowed naturally and you had a gentle rhythm that was effortless.

When something makes us feel good, we open to it inside and out. Our posture expands, our limbs separate and we smile. When we meet unpleasant emotions, we contract: muscles clench, breath is held and the body tenses up. We arm ourselves to resist or defend against something that might not even be truly affecting us.

You’ve heard of self-fulfilling prophesies. Is it possible that you’re inviting in negativity simply because you’ve been holding that physicality in your body?

What if you decided to alter that rigidity by loosening up a bit?

As you begin to work on the bits of your body that are stuck, you’ll also find yourself releasing links to the emotions that made you get like that in the first place.

Sometimes just thinking about what that would be like is enough to shift your body.

So pause to consider how your body feels when your day is filled with opportunities. When you feel rewarded and secure in your life and business. When people and circumstances combine to bring you utter joy or playfulness.

If you can’t imagine that ever happening, then here’s an exercise to start you on the path to influencing a more beneficial state of mind:

  • Stand with your feet apart and your buttocks loose and unclenched.
  • Feel your feet firmly planted and keep your head balanced on the top of your neck.
  • Imagine you have a golden string at the top of your head that draws you upwards.
  • Let your shoulders droop and your arms hang down.
  • As you breathe in, feel your chest rising.
  • Rock and sway from your hips.
  • Lift your arms to your sides and stretch them as far as you can.
  • Move your shoulders back and forth in circles and relax and smile, genuinely.

Doesn’t that feel better than complaining about all the injustice in the world?

Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. 

body, emotions

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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