Can physical symptoms and habitual behavioural responses be due to repressed emotions?Heidi Hadley
I am sure you have experienced stress and anxiety over the years and noticed a link between your emotions and the physiological effects on you. This is not a coincidence. In today’s blog I am going to discuss why symptoms and behavioural responses can be due to repressed emotions.
Many doctors will tell you that over their years in clinical practice they notice many patients exhibiting physical problems due to repressed emotions.
So how exactly would we define repressed emotions? Well, repressed emotion often describes feelings or desires, especially those that could be considered shameful or distressing. When an emotion is repressed, you hold it inside so you don’t have to show how you feel. Sometimes you aren’t consciously aware that you are doing it. Sometimes we could be quite surprised who is suppressing their emotions because on the surface they appear happy, but deep down their SOMA (mind and body) are responding very differently to what we see. If you are an empath or experienced with working the different types of individuals and personalities, you can often identify certain traits or characteristics of that person.
It has been estimated that around 80% of visits to a primary care health professional are due to SYMPTOMS caused by stress or emotional problems. So people are treating the symptoms but not getting to the ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM.
We cannot remove feelings of hurt, sadness, anger, fear or feeling of worthlessness by keeping busy, pushing it to the back of our mind or hoping it goes away. As I have discussed in previous blogs, such as last week’s blog entitled “Do you REACT or RESPOND to stressful situations?” (https://totalsomatics.com/do-you-react-or-respond-to-stressful-situations/) our brain’s limbic system goes into action. This area of the brain helps us to cope with stressful situations to help us thrive and survive. The Limbic system sends out chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol to help deal with stressful events. As I mentioned in my last blog “Do you REACT or RESPOND to stressful situations?” (https://totalsomatics.com/do-you-react-or-respond-to-stressful-situations/) the cortisol and adrenaline surge are brilliant to help us escape or fight and defend ourself in stressful situations. But if we live in this cycle of cortisol and adrenaline surging through our body 24/7, it is extremely unhealthy and long term it leads to the immune system becoming suppressed, resulting in one having a vulnerability to infection.
Cortisol is good in small doses but excessive exposure to it leads to an increase in inflammation and autoimmune conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Adrenaline causes an increase in our heart rate, rapid breathing and high blood pressure. The excess levels of cortisone and adrenaline bathe the muscles. This leads to muscle fibres becoming irritable and too excitable which then results in muscle spasms, cramps and tension.
Even is we think we have “moved on” or “taken our mind off it” we haven’t. Our soma (mind and body) will continue to store this emotion in physiological responses UNTIL WE DEAL WITH THEM. The central nervous system, including areas of the brain associated with stress, anxiety and trauma are still humming along in the background causing repressed emotion to be held in our tissues.
What can we do to deal with these issues?
Research and studies performed at UCLA by Matthew Lieberman and colleagues reveal that when people verbalise their emotions it has a profound effect on the limbic system. It reduces the effects of the fight or flight response. This means adrenaline and cortisol production reduce and in turn so do physical symptoms.
Not everybody feels comfortable talking about their feelings. This can be a cultural issue too. But there are other ways we can release emotion. We may be the type of person who keeps a journal and likes to write their feelings in this way. We may enjoy expressing our emotions through art and art therapy. Some individuals love music and singing, they find their emotional release this way. Some find hiking and mindfulness in beautiful environments the emotional release they have needed to start opening the floodgates.
I have personally found Somatics and EMDR has helped with my emotional stress from years ago. That is how I discovered Somatics, to help slow me down and deal with nervous anxiety. I have always worked at full throttle because I have tried to ‘push away’ hurt and pain from years of bullying and my first marriage which was a very unhealthy environment of control, manipulation and emotional abuse.
In order to help others, I felt it very important to deal with my own issues first. This was the best decision I could have made. It was only when I started practising Somatic movement sequences that it helped dramatically to relax my central nervous system, release long held protective muscular tightness and increase and improve the quality of my breathing. I then noticed that certain situations would trigger physiological responses, such as a situation where someone would present passive aggressive behaviour towards me. I then became aware that there was ‘a switch in my head’ which would ‘flick on’ when this happened. It would cause anxiety and fear to well up inside. So I decided to try EMDR, thanks to the advice of one of my Somatics mentors Martha Peterson. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. It is used for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is not hypnosis and is very different in its approach.
I worked for 10 weeks with a Clinical Psychologist and she used the procedure to basically reduce the effects the Limbic system has on my SOMA (mind and body) and change how I recall distressing events by taking the emotion away and “re-filing” it in my hippocampus, an area of the brain which deals with sequential events and experiences. As a result I have been able to recall events in an objective manner without feelings of anxiety. From test results my adrenal activity has reduced, this was an area of concern because my adrenaline was always working over time. I have found that with a combination of EMDR and regular Somatic movement, my chronic neck pain has disappeared. I remember the neck pain was triggered during a very dark and sad time in my life. It is liberating and empowering to know that using techniques such as Somatics and EMDR I have been able to take control of my health and well being. Like everything, I have to continue on a daily basis practising Somatics to help keep my SOMA (mind and body) centred so that I have a greater influence over my body rather than my subconscious mind and old habitual behaviours taking control of me. I have learnt to slow down, take time to care for my SOMATIC health and enjoy life at a pace which means I stand back, enjoy the sunsets and yet can still be productive without wearing myself out with nervous anxiety.
So in conclusion I ask you, Why is your physical symptom showing up? Can you see a link with stress and emotion which may go back many years? The answer is different for everybody. My approach with EMDR suited me. It may suit you or you may prefer other ways to release stress and emotion which we have pushed down. We are all different. One thing I can say which works for everybody is Somatics. Once we learn to teach our mind and body to slow down, we start to notice how we move, sit, stand, behave and also how much we have to focus on slowing down the massive amount of information which floods our mind and can wear us out physically and emotionally.
Allow me to teach you Mindfulness with Total Somatics with my online programs. I can teach you techniques to release long held muscle tension in your body, reduce pain and improve posture. I will also teach you about Mindfulness and Mindset. I have provided instructional and informative videos which you can watch at your leisure and at your pace in the comfort of your own home.
Join me at www.TotalSomatics.com and start taking back control of your health and well being.
Heidi Hadley xx