Self Development

Emotions and the body

Why “Emotions and the Body”? Why “Mens Sana in Corpore Sano”? Well, simply because I battled hypochondria and anxiety ever since I was 12 years old and I am very well aware of how closely interlinked are our emotions and body. Our body is similar to a digestive system for our emotions. Everything we feel is being filtered by our bodies. Unfortunately, the unreleased and unprocessed emotions leave a trace and get stuck in certain areas of our bodies sending us signals occasionally. The signals are not there to hurt us. They are simply there as an early warning sign that there are certain emotions that we need to notice and basically feel…

I know a lot about bodily pains and the horrific body reactions to extreme anxiety. Somatic symptoms are some of the most confusing and alarming things to experience. When you get into this stage, the body and the emotions are so closely interlinked that they both need attendance. It is not easy to process everything when you have ignored it for so long.

When you don’t know any more if it’s in your head or in your body, you need to take it one step at a time. Your body and emotions have lost faith in your attendance and your reaction to satisfy their immediate needs. Ignored emotions and a body which served as a Pandora ’s Box for too long are similar to an erupting volcano that can never go back to its initial state until everything comes out.

So, how do you handle this running lava of emotions? The first step is to take the time and distinguish which is what. You need to get back in touch with your emotions and rebuild the lost connection with yourself and your body. For this, I found a very useful exercise which can map out your emotions and draw extremely valid conclusions about your body aches.

Sit down on the floor and trace your body shape with a marker. Afterwards, choose 5 emotions which you feel most intensely. Choose a color for each emotions. Before starting to draw and color in, identify each one of those emotions in your body. For example, when you feel angry, in what part of your body do you feel it most? Is it in the heart, as it starts to pound faster and faster, is it in your face as you feel it getting flashier and flashier? Is it in your fists? In your stomach? Where do you feel your anxiety? Your sadness? Your disappointment? Every emotion is felt somewhere in your body. Go look for it! Draw the map of your emotions, localize them with the right color, texture and density. Draw it as you feel it! Then, step away. Take a look at what you drew. Do your pains reflect your emotions? Does your aching body give you an indication of what it feels and how it feels it?

I shared with you in this post my body map. I chose red for anger and anxiety, black for sadness and brown for disappointment. I think it’s easy to see which is where. A picture is worth a thousand words. That’s why art and art therapy does the talking for you.

I hope you’ll find this exercise as useful as I found it. This should at least give you some indication of how things are felt and where. In order to relax the body, don’t hesitate to take a look again at the relaxing techniques I wrote about a while back.

Photo credits: Anamaria Olaru



  • Eleanor February 5, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I just did this exercise as I have had a lot of stress recently and my body seems to be a bit all over the place.

    It was interesting to think about what emotion is felt in which part of the body.

    Funnily enough, the part which is causing me some troubles (for you women out there) was not on my drawing.

    I guess the body reacts to the stresses of life and of the mind in unexpected and odd ways.

    Looking forward to more articles! 🙂

    • anamaria February 7, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Hey Eleanor! Thank you for doing the exercise and for taking a step towards recognizing and locating the emotions in your body. May I strongly suggest, that for this exercise to be effective, to actually trace your body on a big sheet of paper. It works much better when you do this because you can see your actual body shape and you can connect with it more. Also, working on something that it’s bigger in size gives you the possibility to extend your art work on a bigger space, thus giving you the possibility to explore all body sensations without space restrictions.

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