Self-Awareness of What Your Emotions Can Do to Your Body

By Cody Frank

Overexertion is not the only method that causes muscle pain. Stress can trigger it as well because the reaction is “fight or flight.” Which increases muscle tension because of the demand and pressure of stress. The sympathetic nervous system releases noradrenaline that triggers muscle to tense up in preparation for action. In response to danger or threat, the tense muscles are ready to act quickly. Noradrenaline gives you increased strength during an emergency. If no action is made to restore, your muscle tension may remain.

Your thoughts and emotions can also create stress. Such as: I am not enough. I let them down. I’m too late. I can’t stop thinking. We have all had those negative thoughts go through our heads. Everyone has had moments of anxiety, stress, fear, and anger. Check the emotional body map below to see if there is any correlation in your tense body parts:


Photo via Wellness Profiles.

In addition, stress produces carelessness with your attention to your body’s signals. This increases the chance you will move in ways that will strain your muscles more.

The skeletal muscular system stands for more than 40 percent of your body weight. It is made up of more than 400 separate muscles. Muscles can develop spasms, become overly fatigued or injured. Your muscle fibers are made to tense and then relax in cycles. If a muscle under sustained tension does not relax eventually pain and spasm will occur. Sustained tension from emotional stress, poor posture or repetitive movements do not allow a relaxed phase to occur.

A way to decrease tension is to overcome breath holding habits. One method is to participate in classes that have a component of breath awareness and control training: Yoga, Tai Chi, or Meditation. These classes have the effect of activating the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system replaces effortful breathing with relaxed breathing. This reduces pain, anxiety, an depression. These classes will help you control those negative thoughts as well. No need to beat yourself up or concentrate on things you cannot control. It’s easier said than done but your muscles and you will thank yourself for it. Stay aware Flygyal, there may be more behind that headache or muscle cramp than overexertion.

Thank you to Stress Directions, Psychology Today, and Wellness Profiles for the above information.

Cover photo via The Artwork of Douglas Schneider.