Mindfulness of emotions can reduce stress of those emotions

Did you know that just being aware of your emotions reduces the stress they have on you? And did you know that suppression of emotions can actually make us feel them more intensely? There was a  scientific study conducted by James Gross and Robert W. Levenson where by they had people watch a movie of a finger amputation.  Some of the people were told to appraise (note) their feelings and some were told to suppress (outwardly not react to) what was coming up.  The data showed that the people who suppressed their feelings had more intense stress responses (heart rate increase, and skin temperature changes) than the ones who were allowed to pay attention and note them.  Hopefully, we can take from this study that one way to mitigate the stress they have on us is to first note them, realize that they are coming up.

To do this you have to practice being mindful of your emotions.  Sit and watch emotions arise, note where you feel them.  Try not to put a judgement on them.  All this is mindfulness practice.  Our bodies have a lot of information to give us and we need to take note.  And it seems by taking note we are also reducing stress.

Try this, the next time you feel an emotion rising (anger, fear, disgust, sadness, happiness, etc) see if you can check out where in the body you feel it.  It may be subtle.  But, think about it, you wouldn’t know you were having an emotion if your body didn’t react to tell you so.  Spend some time becoming aware of where ( chest, arms, gut, etc) and how (tightness, heat, numbness, etc.) your body expresses that emotions. Research seems to say that the more you do of this the less stress you’ll have.  🙂