Soothing Intense Emotions Using Your Own Body

(I have celiac disease, so I address this issue through a celiac lens, but the emotion-soothing techniques can work for anyone.)

Common emotions that celiacs experience as we adhere to a strictly gluten-free diet include anger, resentment, sadness, desperation, frustration, fear, and exasperation, just to name a few. These are difficult emotions to live with.

Fortunately, there are some simple tricks we can use to lessen the intensity of these emotions as we experience them.

A powerful emotion-soothing method that leading psychologists and spiritual leaders recommend is to simply hold our body in soothing, calm, or open postures.

When the body posture is soothing, calm, or open, negative emotion is not supported, because the body and the emotions work together.

Let’s look at a few examples of how to use the body to calm the emotions.

EXAMPLE 1: You’re at a succulent wedding buffet and there’s nothing for you to eat but a cherry tomato. You can feel the anger rising in you. Tune in to your body. Turn the palms of your hands so they face upward. This is called willing hands, and it’s your body’s way of saying “I gracefully accept this reality.” This diffuses your anger, helping you to be calm and capable of dealing with the situation.

EXAMPLE 2: Protecting yourself from cross-contamination, you say “No” to a piece of cake your friend made specially for you. You feel terrible about it. Step back, tune in to your emotional suffering, and tune in to your body. Open up your posture – chest up, heart high, shoulders back, arms open, head back. This is your body’s way of saying, “I’m open to this experience! I can handle it! Life is good!” This diffuses your negativity and invites happiness into the situation.

EXAMPLE 3: Your co-workers have just voted to hold the company dinner at “The Gluten Glutton – All Gluten, All the Time!” even though they know you can’t eat there. You feel hurt and upset. Tune in to your emotions, and tune in to your body. Give yourself a soothing embrace, like in the pictures below. Your body feels the hug of your own arms saying, “I love and support you.” This gives you the strength you need to recover and handle the situation.

As celiacs, we face a lot of emotionally upsetting situations. Knowing how to calm our emotions with our own bodies can be a big help.

by Sherry Scheideman, MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor

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