When we experience pain or discomfort, over time we create and attach emotions to those sensations. Your physical experience might be a cramp in your tummy, but the emotional story might be one of fear (“what is this pain – have I got cancer?”), uncertainty (“why am I the only one who gets this pain”), frustration (“I can’t do anything because of this pain”), sadness (“why me???”), guilt (“I’m always messing up our plans because I’m sick”) and so whilst we experience a physical sensation, the thing that can actually be most overwhelming may be the emotion attached to the pain – particularly in chronic pain.
What the emotion story does, if it is similar to any of those examples, is signal sympathetic dominance which in turn drives the body away from a healing state. Being in a sympathetic nervous system state is a signal to the body that the primary focus is on survival and so it reprioritises and puts things like digestion, reproduction, healing onto the back burner to instead deal with the imminent threat.
When you’re tired, emotional, have an upset tummy, joint pain, brain fog, poor digestion or any symptoms that stop you from feeling ideal (you know the ones), the best kind of workout to do is a WORKOUT FOR YOUR EMOTIONS.
What does that mean?
It is easy for most of us to externalise – do the ‘things’ that are ‘doing’ things, like change your diet, take supplements, go to the gym, create a healthy sleep routine, make bone broth etc. They’re all of the external ‘doing’ things. Let’s call all of that ‘out there’ instead of ‘in here’. Do you know what I mean?
With that in mind, by contrast, a workout for the mind/emotions is the stopping, listening and reflecting. It is also the ‘energy building’ activities that are ‘in here’ like:
- Mindfulness (meditation, quiet time, daydreaming, gardening)
- Reflection (journalling, counselling)
- Energy building (qi gong, tai chi, yoga, pilates, slow walks, nature, napping, reading, earthing)
- Growth (tapping – EFT, creating a positive morning or evening routine, self exploration around thoughts and beliefs, counselling, reading)
- Often these are much harder practices to bring in, but let me promise you, when you create habits out of them, you will be more able to process and possibly rewire the emotion story that has been created, and if we’re honest, the emotion story can be more crippling than the physical pain at times.
The best way to incorporate one of these practices is to start slowly – as little as 5 minutes per day. The secret is to be consistent. As Jabe says, you wouldn’t go to the gym once a month for 6 hours and see the same results as going 3 times a week for 30 minutes a time. You need to regularly flex those muscles and lift the weights, and when it comes to rewiring the brain, you need to be regularly cutting the new path.
I encourage you to investigate – what is your emotion story? What comes up for you when you experience your pain? How have these emotions sculpted who you are today and what would you like your story to be?
Notice what your emotion story is – and then be prepared to question it, work through it and possibly release it.
If you would like to practice gratitude and journalling, click on this link for an easy guide.