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Lower Stress by Recognizing Your Emotions

Lower Stress by Recognizing Your Emotions

When Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) begins twitching at the mention of Inspector Jacques Clouseau in 1964's Shot in the Dark, his body language tells you what’s going on with his emotions (rage, anger, fear) -- even as he declares he’s just fine and nothing is going to upset him. 

Related: How Body Language Affects your Relationships

True, there are times when you’re aware that you’re emotionally upset and know it’s making you feel bad physically. But sometimes it’s hard to admit what’s going on in your head. For instance, today you may be sick to your stomach and decide you’re too ill to go to work. You miss that your symptoms are a result of that fight you had yesterday with a coworker.  

In such situations, your body is tapping you on the shoulder and saying, “Hey, if you pay attention to how your body is acting—and why, you’ll know a little more about your emotional state of affairs.” Consciously acknowledging your emotions is a powerful way to de-stress and improve your mood, relationships, and reduce body-wide inflammation (a trigger for everything from dementia to heart attack).

To help folks have a clearer understanding of their emotions, Finnish researchers recently mapped the relationship between physical sensations and emotions. They found most people feel anger in the head, chest, arms and hands and disgust always gets you in the gut. On the positive side, love is felt throughout your whole body, except the legs (guess you’re not going anywhere); and hyped-up sensations all over the body are clues to happiness.   

Related: The Science Behind Happiness

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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