By Refuge Intern, Rachel Bollinger
We all have felt it. That moment just before you lose it. Your body tightens. Your stomach turns. Your eyes start to fill with tears. Maybe you can even feel the heat starting to rise to your face, and then your ears. You know it’s coming, and yet, have no idea of what you can do to make it stop. Many of you have probably felt like you just have to deal with it. You are an adult and you need to act like an adult, therefore, there is no room for acting out how you want to. That would just be unprofessional. What if though, there was another way to reduce the stress you are feeling in that moment so you are able to act and think rationally, and regulate your emotions back to normal.
Research shows that if you can move your body then you can avoid losing your mind. Dan Siegel states, in his book The Whole-Brain Child, “Research has shown that bodily movement directly affects brain chemistry… when we change our physical state through movement or relaxation we can change our emotional state” (P.57). Now I know most of you are probably focusing on the body movement portion of that quote and thinking that there is no way you could start to do jumping jacks every time you felt this way, and your right. However, there are other ways that are much more discrete that you would be able to use and no one would know. For instance, quick, shallow breaths are correlated with anxiety. However, if you take much slower deeper breaths, you’ll likely feel calmer. Or in times of stress try smiling for one minute straight, and it can make you feel happier. Or if you have the time and means to, going for a quick walk can make you feel more relaxed and at ease (Siegel, 2012, P.58).
This sounds too good to be true, I know, but let me tell you why this actually works. Dan Siegel (2012) states, “The body is full of information that it sends to the brain. In fact a lot of emotion we feel actually begins in the body…the flow of energy and information from the body up into our brain stem, into our limbic region, and then up into the cortex, changes our bodily states, our emotional states, and our thoughts (p.59). What this means is that our body is able to determine and feel what we are feeling before we can even recognize that’s what we are feeling. Our body communicates to our brain that we are sad, anxious, happy, mad, and so on. Those feelings all start in our body and work their way up to our brain. So if we want to change our feelings, why not let our body do the work? By doing this our body will communicate to our brain to calm down and relax therefore making us feel calmer and more relaxed.
So the next time you feel yourself about to lose it, remember to use your body to take back control of your brain. Take a walk, take some deep breaths, or smile until you can’t smile anymore, and your brain will get the hint. Just remember, either move it or lose it.
For more information please visit us at www.therefugecenter.org or call us at 615.591.5262.