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Letting go of carry-on baggage

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

It's tough being around loud, pushy people who
voice every emotion they feel when they feel
it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, and
easier to be around, are quiet people who don't
complain and keep their feelings to themselves.
As it turns out, your body begins suffering
physical symptoms when you hold unresolved
emotional feelings inside. Research supports that
the more the emotional baggage is felt internally,
the worse it is for the body. Nowhere is this
demonstrated as clearly as heart disease or with
emotional issues, such as depression and anxiety.
Women's bodies suffer from emotions held in.
According to experts in mind/body medicine,
our emotions affect our bodies because they
are linked to our bodies via our immune,
endocrine and central nervous systems. Just as
a broken heart affects our heart and can lead to
death, what we feel affects our body and how
effectively it works.

Getting to the Root of Pain

For women, emotions such as unresolved
grief or anger at a partner can cause intestinal
problems and headaches as easily as they can
cause chronic pelvic pain, and many other bodily
issues. Holding in emotions weakens your body's
immune system, which makes it tougher to ward
off colds and infections; when you do get sick,
you have a more difficult time getting well.
Observing a list of body functions affected
when women (or men) hold in their emotional
baggage is staggering. This is why when you
become ill it is so important to evaluate what
you are feeling, and what you have been feeling
for the past six months because some illnesses,
such as rheumatoid arthritis, may take months
to become symptomatic.

• Constipation or diarrhea, as well as
stomach pain/ulcers
• Back/neck pain
• Depression
• Insomnia
• High blood pressure
• Anxiety/depression
• Weight gain or loss (eating disorders
always have an emotional aspect)
• Sexual problems
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Fibromyalgia
• Asthma
• Cancers (for example, pancreatic cancer
may present with depression before the
patient is symptomatic with cancer)

Therapy for Full Healing

Emotional healing is very different from physical
healing. When I worked with cancer patients,
I was reminded of this fact many times. The
tumor went away, and the body healed, but the
mind lingered sometimes for years over the
experience of losing hair, a body part and/or
trust in your body.
Counseling becomes a wonderful way to release
pent up feelings so you can heal emotionally.
There are many ways you can help your loved
one or yourself unpack your emotional baggage.
Try these suggestions and practice them
frequently.

• Laugh as much as you can. Watch funny
videos.
• Cry when you need to, don't hold it in, and
just let it flow.
• Practice voicing, "I'm angry." You don't have
to do an action with it, just say it out loud
and say why.
• Mindful actions. Before you take any
medication for a headache, tummy ache,
backache, to stay awake or to fall asleep,
ask yourself what am I holding onto. Begin
jotting things down. This small action offers
huge rewards.
• Massages are a common treatment
for people who have gone through a
horrendous crisis, and they're also a
wonderful treatment for fibromyalgia and
rheumatoid arthritis. Breathe and let go
of held-in emotional pain as the therapist
works on the body part that holds the
physical pain.

Medical care has come a long way with
advancements in treating so many illnesses.
Your body is more than physical, though; there
is an emotional and soulful part, which is more
complicated to treat. Knowing yourself and
being able to express uncomfortable feelings
is healthy, not only for your mind, but for your
body and soul, as well.

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed
psychotherapist and co-author with
Janine J. Sherman of Start Talking: A
Girls' Guide for You and Your Mom
About Health, Sex, or Whatever. She
may be reached at
maryjo@maryjorapini.com.

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