How Repressed Emotions Impact Our Physical Health

Have you found yourself feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, but can’t figure out what’s at the root of it? Or maybe you’re dealing with chronic fatigue or an upset stomach and nothing seems to help? It’s possible that what’s causing your problems are actually repressed emotions. In this episode, I’m speaking with Integrative Health Pharmacist Kari Coody about how repressed emotions impact our physical health and what we can do to process our feelings in a healthy way.

Today we’re going to be talking about how repressed emotions impact our physical health. It’s a lot of what I talk about in my new book. I dedicate an entire chapter in my book, on understanding emotions and feelings and the critical role that those play in our healing journey. (Whether it’s physical or emotional, or spiritual healing journey.)


What are repressed emotions

Repressed emotions, to me are just emotions that we tend to shove down. I’m definitely a stuffer rather than just a let it all out type of person or I used to be. I’ve realized how bad that for my mental health as well for our physical and for my mental.

Sometimes emotions are complicated, and it’s just easier to put them in the little box and deal with them later. And, and even when I think back to childhood and to you know, earlier in my life, a lot of times I’d simply just can’t remember because I have stuffed those feelings and emotions and thoughts in a box.

When we have repressed emotions and don’t feel them it puts our body in fight or flight mode. And there’s so many different things that come along with that and fight or flight is something that it’s a natural process for our body to be in. But it’s we should be in that state and then out of that state why we should not live in that state. But physically but when we replay repress these emotions, we’re subconsciously putting ourselves in that fight or flight mode and to speak about it from a physical standpoint, your body cannot heal. Your body is very smart. Our body our God made our body to survive. That is what happens when you have repressed emotions.

Fight or flight response

Fight or flight is the word actually says what it is preparing your body to do and that means to run away from something a threat to you know. If you’re being chased by a tiger like that’s actually what your fight or flight system is supposed to be able to help your body to do. But a few so a few ways that you would know that you’re in that is the sweaty palms. It is the increased heart rate. Maye it’s sweating. It could even be like a headache because you have, you’re just kind of ramped up. So I think we can all we all have these symptoms and sort of cues. It’snot a good thing that it does that because then we just, we’re used to it, which is not a good thing.

I think what happens is, when we get a headache when we have an upset stomach, or you know, you just feel like your stomach’s like woozy or uneasy, that also can be a symptom of fight or flight. I think when we start to say, well, that’s normal, I just have a headache, because that’s normal. And a lot of things are common, but we kind of idolize them as normal, which then once we normalize it, we no longer question it. And a lot of that can even go back to stress, like what you were saying. So stress can actually cause headaches, it can cause fatigue.

Stress can be a huge culprit of a lot of chronic illnesses, especially if we like you said, I’ve lived in fight or flight for years like I did, where I had a lot of physical symptoms after I finally felt safe, you know, safe emotionally and physically. So why don’t you like kind of talk a little bit about the stress response? And what that really does look like and what things can look normal versus stress as well?

How Repressed Emotions Impact Our Physical Health

Stress response

So there are different types of stressors on our body. So there is work life emotional stress, and that’s kind of where the repressed emotions would fall. Exercise is a stress to our body. Also, digestive issues can be a huge stressor to our body, which is actually a cycle because stress can cause digestive issues, but digestive issues cause stress on our body.

So as far as what stress is doing to your body over a period of time, so every time that you are in a stressful situation, your body releases something called cortisol. And that’s the stress hormone. Cortisol is meant to get your body ready to go run to go, you know, do whatever it needs to do to get away from the thread. And so it can increase your blood sugar, it stops the production of hormones. Because you can either be in fight or flight, or you can be in what’s called rest and digest.

So those are, you can’t be digesting food when you’re in fight or flight very well at all. And I know that our bodies can adapt, but that’s just not what it’s meant to do in that state. Because again, it is it’s putting all its energy toward going to fight this. Yeah, this threat. When you think about being a woman stress is very hard on your body as a woman. Your hormones really don’t have much of a chance to be balanced whenever you are in this fight or flight stage. There’s this whole pathway that gets that really just gets forgotten about. Let’s say whenever you are in that fight or flight because it’s wanting to your body’s wanting to produce more cortisol.

I think sometimes with repressed emotions, it’s like we want something to change, but we’re not really ready to go dig and kind of deal with these things that we’ve stuffed away.

Our body is something we need to be kind to. And when we’re trying to just beat it up and make it do what we want it to do. It’s not designed to work like that, right? God wants us to rest. But he also wants us to honor our bodies with movement and with good food and to laugh and to be with people and to get off our phones, right? All of these things really do make a big difference. But sometimes we overlook them, because we’re looking for a quick fix. And there is no quick fix, all of these things really play a part in trying to decrease that stress on our life and on our body.

Dealing with stress

When we have these with unmet expectations, or a situation that didn’t go as planned. This can cause stress in your life instantly. You know, you had this work project and something happened and it just didn’t go the way you thought it was supposed to go stress. You know, it’s kind of this unmet expectation this, you know, something that happened that you couldn’t you felt like you couldn’t control. And really, that comes with its own set of emotions and its own set of then feelings and beliefs that we would carry about that. Yeah.

Which then when we think about stress, we think about the tight shoulders, which I get actually a lot like, I that’s what I carry it, you know, or we get the headache. And so, you know, in a world that kind of idolizes busy and stress it’s hard to fine rest.

Feeling physical symptoms of repressed emotions

How would you kind of rework that so that they can get back to working through those emotions, you know, if somebody comes to you, and they’re having all these symptoms, and you get to the point where you’re like, Okay, this could be something deeper, how can you kind of maybe help them work backwards to get to that root?

I have found writing it down is very important because, or, you know, again, you have to know about you and what’s going to help you the most, but a lot of times I have, so many thoughts appear, like I need to get them out. And I would say most people are like that. So whether it’s journaling, or there’s talking with someone else, or maybe it’s a combination of both just trying to get off your chest, what you feel is heavy. I love to write it down. I love to just breathe.

When we’re in the fight or flight mode, we don’t breathe deeply. And so just to get out to help me get out of that. I find that just taking a few moments and tell you some really deep breaths helped me to get out of that stressful mode. Now, of course, when when I’m working or when I’m doing things, it’s okay to be in that mode. But you have to get out. Like I know, when I finished my work day, I’ve got to get out of that mode, before I go into big with my kids are just going to be this one long string of just me being in stress mode.

And I also love to just lay back and breathe and deep, whether that’s standing or sitting or lying. There are physical symptoms that will shift whenever you do take those really deep breaths.

Healing from our emotions

But it is true that I don’t think, you know, Jesus would want you walking around as this numb person. Trying to just fill up everybody’s cup when you have nothing in yours, especially not even spending time with him. Because you’re trying to make everybody else happy. And you say, Well, I’m so busy, I can’t have time with you. But I’m trying to do all these things for you. And you know, works are not the point. So what do you want to encourage and leave women with?

I just want to encourage them with, you know, it’s okay to look different from the way the world looks. I know that it might not be easy to really take time for yourself.

As Christians, I believe that we should look different, we should try to be closer to Jesus. And whenever we really seek to get rid of some of these repressed emotions, I feel like we’re getting closer and closer to him because we’re just opening up we’re opening up our heart. We’re leaning into what he’s calling you to do, right? He wants us to be free. He wants us. And so that takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight. But it is something that you have to be committed to and consistent with. And again, it’s going to look different than maybe the world says it should But, again, I think that it should.

Our goal is to please Jesus. You have to care for yourself first before you can care for others.

There are many ways to process your repressed emotions such as writing down your thoughts and emotions, deep breathing exercises, or listening to Christian music. Find what works for you and take a moment to yourself.

It’s okay to look different than the rest of the world. As Christians, we should reflect Christ. It’s not easy to take time for yourself, but when we work through these emotions, we look more like Him. He wants us to be free. It’ll take time. Stay committed and consistent.

Kari Coody is a Christian, wife, mom, Integrative Health Pharmacist, a Blue Diamond leader with doTERRA essential oils. She is also a co-host of Take the Upgrade Podcast. Helping women prioritize their health is a real passion after seeing how broken the healthcare system is. She lives by the learn, apply, teach method and loves providing the tools, resources and sharing with others how to “live it out” in their own lives. Kari’s greatest role is being a wife to BJ and mom to Edy and Cooper.

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