Millions of women are tired, achy and sick due to invisible emotional wounds, says integrative physician Elson Haas, M.D., author of Ultimate Immunity (buy on Amazon, $16). “When we resist or block our emotions, they get ‘stuck’ in our muscles. These ‘trapped’ emotions can cause physical problems, even if we think we’re over the trauma that caused them.”
“Trapped emotions are a form of stress, which weakens our ability to fight off infections,” Dr. Haas explains. A study in Psychosomatic Medicine found subjects who scored highest for negative emotions were three times more likely to succumb to a virus than those with a sunnier outlook.
Symptoms remain until emotions are physically released. “Resolution happens by stopping and listening to our inner conflicts,” says Dr. Haas. “We need to recognize issues and emotions we’re blocking so we can release them.”
A mind/body technique called tapping coaxes the release of trapped emotions. “Tapping affects the brain’s stress center and the memory center,” explains psychologist Peta Stapleton, Ph.D., author of The Science Behind Tapping (Buy on Amazon, $22.49). “It helps you feel calm, which allows memories that cause distress to surface so you can release them.” The payoff: In one study, tapping lowered anxiety by 40 percent and pain by 57 percent.
Try a foam roller massage. “Emotions and memories are held in the cells all over the body as well as in the brain,” says Stapleton. “If your tightness or pain is due to an emotional trauma, foam rolling will help the emotions emerge so you can set them free.” To do: Place a foam roller on the floor and lie or sit on it so your tight area is over the roller. Slowly roll back and forth over the area with light pressure for two minutes a day.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.