5 Ways Your Body Carries Stress And How To Relieve It

August 4, 2023

Most people who experience negative and unwanted emotions try to push them away. You may experience fear, sadness, hurt and irritation throughout your life, but instead of acknowledging these emotions, you might ignore and deny them.

Storing unwanted feelings can result in aches and pains. This is not always the case, but there are bodily reactions to stress. These emotions can manifest their way into areas of the body and create tension.

a close up of a woman caressing a side of her face with her hand

How Your Emotions Get Stuck

Research supports the idea that mental and emotional well-being impacts physical health. An excellent example is being afraid and having your fight-flight or freeze response kick in. Your body generates a physical reaction due to fear.

We are constantly taking in information, which is processed in our autonomic nervous system. It sends signals to activate emotions. Your feelings come from what your nervous system tells you.

If you do not allow your body to express your feelings, your emotions may get trapped. The higher the emotional intensity, the more likely it is to become stuck, resulting in muscle tension, pain or other bodily irritation.

Stress Areas and Relieving It

Inevitable tensions can arise in areas of the body depending on the emotion stored. These are common areas where your feelings get trapped and ways to relieve them.

1. Fear: Stomach and Intestines

Fear can result in a sick-to-your-stomach response. The stomach and intestines tend to tense up when you’re afraid. The more you repress your emotions, the more physical reactions you manifest.

Consider what can be done when experiencing fears. You can acknowledge your concerns and talk to a trusted loved one. The more you express your worries, the less emotion will be held by the body.

2. Anger: Lower Back

Anger or frustration can result in lower back pain. Overall, back pain is one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor or miss time at work. You may feel tension or strain throughout your daily life due to these unwanted feelings.

You can learn to constructively deal with the frustrations and conflicts you have with others at that moment. This way, the feelings will not ruminate and cause problems later. Although it may sound simple, it is not. Learning to harness anger and express boundaries will improve your quality of life while relieving tension.

3. Burden and Responsibility: Neck and Shoulders

You might experience shoulder and neck pain when suffering from too many life responsibilities. You may take on too many things you cannot deal with and feel overly burdened. If you refuse to ask others for help, these feelings can cause neck and shoulder tightness.

There are ways you can treat neck pain and shoulder tension. You might need to go to a doctor for a brace or find a massage therapist to release the pressure. Some people even cry when getting massages due to the pressure release. You can also ask for support from those around you to take some stress off your shoulders, literally and metaphorically.

4. Hurt: Heart and Chest

You may experience unexplained chest pains. The discomfort could lead you to get medical checkups with no reasons being found. Ignoring hurt from a broken heart by not mourning relationships or losses could create pent-up heart and chest issues.

Turning to therapy and talking through feelings of hurt could release chest pains. Even crying may help your body feel like you are not ignoring your feelings. Heart and chest pain can disappear after releasing tension.

5. Anxiety: Breathing Issues

Overwhelming feelings of anxiety can lead to panic attacks. You can feel like you’re gasping for air or suffocating when you feel anxious. These symptoms can appear when you repress sadness. Holding on to hurt can build up internally and restricting tears and holding your breath has the same effects on the body.

Allow yourself to cry and express your feelings. Avoiding current emotions with distractions can cause internal stress on your body.

Face Your Feelings

Your body can hold onto stress in many ways. Depending on what you deal with daily, you can have one or more of these stresses in your body. Be sure to tune into your emotions to work through them. You may just feel mentally and physically better.

Also by Mia: How To Detox Your Entire Body Through Yoga—Nervous, Digestive Systems & More

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Photo: Angelica Echeverry via Unsplash

Mia Barnes is a freelance writer who specializes in nutrition, wellness and fitness. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, an online healthy living publication. Follow Mia and Body+Mind on Twitter @bodymindmag!


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