Emotions and Physical Pain

The Incredible Way Your Emotions Are Causing You Physical Pain


By Phil Mutz

Life can sometimes be an emotional roller coaster.

Some days you’re up and some days you’re down. But I was shocked to discover that the emotions you feel and the thoughts you think can have a direct impact on your physical health.

According to Dr. Susanne Babbel, a psychologist specializing in trauma and depression writes in Psychology Today, “Studies have shown that chronic pain might not only be caused by physical injury but also by stress and emotional issues.”

She goes on, “Often, physical pain functions to warn a person that there is still emotional work to be done.”

I have never stopped to think that maybe my sore back might be the result of something going on elsewhere in my life.

It’s pretty great to know that I might actually have some control over my pain levels. Dr. Murray Grossan of the Grossan Institute writes, “The first thing about healing an illness is to stop the stress and anxiety chemicals that impair normal healing.”

We spoke to some experts in order to find out more about the relationship between emotions and pain in specific areas of the body. Scroll through until you find the pain you’ve been experiencing to see what emotions might be causing the pain! We’ve even included some advice on how you can dump those emotions and get your body feeling pain free.

Special thanks to Maya Borenstein of Little Things for these amazing images.

Pain In Your HEAD


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

Doctor Christina Peterson writes that “stress and emotional triggers are common migraine triggers.” Your headaches may just be the result of taking on too much in your day-to-day life. Unnecessary stress can be the cause of that thumping in your skull. Taking time out to relax today may be the best solution. Maybe even head to a spa for the day to let all that unwanted tension disappear.

Pain In Your NECK


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

According to Lori D’Ascenzo, Reiki practitioner and expert in kinesiology, “Your neck is where you hold guilt and self-recrimination.” Pain in your neck may mean you are having trouble forgiving yourself and that you are judging yourself too harshly. Now might be a great time to make a list of all the things you love about yourself. If you are feeling guilty about something you’ve done to someone else, now would be the perfect time to apologize and clear the air. Loving yourself and finding forgiveness may be the actual keys to this pain in the neck.



Maya Borenstein for Little Things

Professional kinesiologist Ros Kitson believes that, “Our shoulders are where we carry our burdens. We talk about ‘shouldering a problem’ and this is exactly what we’re doing when our shoulders tense up and cause us pain.” This may be the perfect time to let the problem solving fall to someone else for a change. If you are taking on more than your fair share of the burden at work, it may just be time to let your co-worker know you need a little help.



Maya Borenstein for Little Things

According to self-help author and life coach Ronda Degaust, “The upper back has to do with feeling the lack of emotional support. You may feel unloved or you may be holding back your love from someone else.” This would probably be a great time to reach out to loved ones and strengthen those relationships. If you’re single, it might even be a good time to jump head first into the dating scene. A little bit of love may just go a long way with that upper back pain.



Maya Borenstein for Little Things

Dr. Mark W. Tong, who has a doctorate in natural healing, tells Little Things, “Money and financial [issues] can be tied to back pain.” Similar to the lack of emotional support causing upper back pain, the lack of financial support may be putting unnecessary strain on your lower back. This may be a good time to ask for that overdue raise at work. You might even want to reevaluate your spending habits so you aren’t putting stress on yourself when the bills arrive each month.

Pain In Your ELBOWS


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

Dr. Alan Fogel writes in Psychology Today, “All emotions have a motor component.” When it comes to elbow pain, the soreness may have more to do with your own resistance to change than it does to bumping your funny bone. Stiffness in the elbow may mean you are being too stubborn or “stiff” in your daily life. This might be the perfect time to compromise with your partner over an ongoing argument. Maybe try out that new coffee place your friend has been suggesting. Change and compromise may just be your new best friends.

Keep reading to find out how other pains might affect you — especially if you have any powers in the lower half of your body.

Pain In Your HANDS


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

According to Lori D’Ascenzo, Reiki practitioner and expert in kinesiology, “Hands reach out to others.  Are you stifling your need to reach out and connect with others?” An inability to connect with others may be the cause of that palm pain. Working on making new friends might be your best path moving forward. Maybe it’s time to make an effort to meet the new neighbors. Maybe have lunch with a co-worker rather than dining alone. Connections may just be the key.

Pain In Your HIPS


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

Self-help guru and founder of Beyond Affirmations Barbara Clark writes, “Fear of movement can manifest as stiffness or pain in the hips – fear of moving into our future or of a change in the direction of our lives.” Your sore hips may just be a sign that you are resistant to moving forward or making major decisions. This may be the time to open that new business you’ve been thinking about — or maybe write that book that you’ve always wanted to write. Moving forward may be the key to releasing you from hip pain.

Pain In Your KNEES


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

Pain In Your CALVES


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

Dr. Laura Perry writes on her blog, “Trigger points in the calf muscles are also very likely to become activated by stress or emotional tension.” In this case specifically, jealousy and resentment may be causing the emotional tension behind your calf pain. This might be a good time to let go of old grudges and jealousies. Jealousy may be causing your sore calves, but it is also likely keeping you from appreciating what you have. Let it go!

Pain In Your ANKLES


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

In her book My “Plane” Truth, author Jill Douglas writes, “Ankles represent the ability to receive pleasure.” Self-help guru Kathy Hadley writes the exact same thing verbatim. For some reason you may be resisting the more pleasurable aspects of life and this may be the cause of your chronic ankle pain. Now might be a good time to indulge yourself a little more. Maybe give your sweet tooth a treat and pick up some dark chocolate. You may even want to spice up your romantic life a bit. Pleasure may finally defeat pain!

Pain In Your FEET


Maya Borenstein for Little Things

Dr. Adaobi Anyeji, a California-based clinical psychologist, told Little Things, “When one is depressed, they often have negative self talk that contributes to… bodily discomfort and exacerbates already present physical conditions.” Too much negativity and not enough joy may be what is causing that chronic foot pain. Aside from literally kicking up your feet to give them a break, you may want to try letting go of those negative feelings you are holding onto. Enjoy the little things. Maybe you can look for joy in your new baby niece or nephew. You might want to find joy with a new pet or in a new hobby. A more joyful life may soon take the place of a more painful life.

From: littlethings.com




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