The Emotional Body and Physical Body Connection
Let’s talk about emotions and how they show up in your life. In the past week, how many times did you notice yourself wanting to get off your phone, to stop scrolling but you stayed glued to the couch or the bed for several minutes more? Did you ever feel stuck at your desk with “one more thing to do”? Or, perhaps you walked into or out of a meeting at work (or home) that left you feeling tired and in need of a nap?
Our physical bodies and our emotions are always talking. Truly, one influences the other in real and deep ways. For example, when your emotional body is experiencing stress, avoidance, or anxiety, it can begin to manifest or settle in your physical body as a “stuck” sensation.
What about your teen? What have you noticed about their body when you (or they) bring up a “serious topic”? You’ve likely seen them cross their arms, look down towards the ground, or walk away. Have you ever noticed your teen’s shift to low energy after engaging in a text exchange with a friend?
Again, the connection between emotions and the body is strong and can happen rapidly. We all have patterns or typical ways that we get stuck in our emotions.
What we do in or to our physical body, impacts our emotional state. So, if you regularly practice self-care or stay dedicated to certain ways of eating or moving your body in ways that feel supportive, you are simultaneously loving on your emotional body.
When You (Or Your Teen) Are Facing Big Emotions
As a Life Coach for Teens and Parents, I support teens in developing their voice, self-awareness, and sense of empowerment. I support parents of teens in maintaining self-care, trust, and communication. During sessions, both online and in-person, I observe body language. I notice when my client has changed postures and become more closed or begins offering less eye contact.
It’s okay to let these emotions settle in a bit. It’s okay– and necessary– for you as parents to feel big emotions, and the same goes for your teens. Truly feeling your emotions, breathing into them, giving them a name, and considering “What do I need to feel safe/comfortable/loved/supported?” is a practice that will transform your relationship to inevitable, challenging sensations.
However, we sometimes get stuck in the big emotions. Sometimes, we forget to breathe or stop short of naming the emotion. And even if we do these steps, it can still feel impossible to move the body, or maybe it’s just the last thing we “feel like doing.”
When I face big, heavy emotions, I frequently feel confused about whether or not moving will help or hurt; my tendency is to protect myself by hiding out and avoiding the world, cuddling up under a blanket and a book (or more likely my phone in all honesty). My pattern is to settle into being stuck.
However, I’ve come to learn that movement, or shifting the energy in my physical body, is the best form of care when I’ve reached this type of heaviness. It is also a go-to strategy I teach all of the children and teens I work with. I use movement “breaks” with clients during sessions, but I also directly teach and open conversation about how they will use these strategies outside of the session.
Movement Can Heal
Movement and the tools I share today are meant to be a reusable, adaptable menu of ideas for you, as the parent, to choose from and experiment with in your own process. Furthermore, these tools are here for you to teach and share with your children and teens.
You may be wondering when to use movement? The answer is ANYTIME! Movement can help keep the emotional energy flowing so that big emotions, tension, and conflict don’t get stuck in our bodies. Here are a few situations in which I’ve seen movement shift energy and big emotions:
- During a family conflict;
- When you feel stuck at your desk, on the couch;
- As you observe your child’s or teen’s body getting stuck or tense;
- During a tough or intense family meeting;
- On a snow day, rainy day, or a stuck-inside day;
- After a long, busy day;
- During a road trip– at a roadside stop;
- When you can’t stop scrolling on your phone or device;
- Before or after a big social situation or high-energy event;
30 Ways to Move* Through “Stuck” Emotions:
*All of the mindful movement ideas below can be done solo or with others depending on the situation and your needs (or your teen’s needs). This list is meant to be accessible to people of varying physical abilities and preferences.
- Take a walk or a run.
- Do something with your hands like coloring, knitting, or a puzzle.
- Practice yoga.
- Cook or clean.
- Bounce, shake, or jump on a trampoline
- Give yourself a hug and do a quick self-massage.
- Hula hoop (with or without a hoop!).
- Sing and/or perform karaoke.
- Go to the park to swing.
- Practice breath work, such as balloon breathing.
- Shoot hoops or play a sport.
- Spend time playing with a family pet.
- Drum, play an instrument, or create rhythms with safe and sturdy household objects.
- Stretch your body in any way that feels soothing or healing.
- Roll down a hill.
- Lay in a park or yard or hammock and look up at the clouds.
- Meet a friend for coffee or tea.
- Take a bike ride or go for a swim.
- Pick up trash in your neighborhood or in a community space.
- Give yourself a hug and/or give someone you love a hug.
- Play a card or board game.
- Create (and play) a scavenger hunt.
- Do jumping jacks.
- Paint, color, draw or create art.
- Work in a garden.
- Write on the sidewalk with chalk.
- Play wall ball or catch.
- Take several shoulder and neck rolls.
- Do lunges, squats, or other exercises that energize you.
If you or teen are struck in big emotions and your family is ready for support, let’s chat. I’d love to help you explore the heaviness, develop strategies for moving through it compassionately, and consider systems of support during this interesting time in life!