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Why are my emotions hijacking my workout?

Jayne
Psychotherapist based in south west UK with a fascination in the mind and body (gut brain) connection.
Updated on ・4 min read

Why are my emotions hijacking my work out flow?

Have you ever had those days where you feel energised and a physical work out just flows? You start your work out and everything just seems much less effort than it did on previous workouts, you wonder where this boost of energy came from? You could do some extra reps and yet still feel like there would be plenty of energy left for the rest of your day.

Why do we have days like this, yet others seem a real strain to even function and perform the basic of tasks. Well of course we all read about the importance of diet, nutrition, sleep, managing healthy lifestyles, stress etc. But what about emotions? I feel our emotions are often overlooked in our western culture of ‘don’t feel your feelings’. We could probably go one step further and wonder whether we live in a culture of dis-embodiment, meaning that we are all head, and our body is just a brain taxi.

body as a brain taxi

To deny such a powerful and important resource to us is like chopping us into two pieces. If we are dis-embodied, we’re not likely to notice how our body is feeling both physically and emotionally on a daily basis, only when the physical ailment becomes powerful enough to finally get our attention.

If we are dis-embodied, (and it’s likely to be the case as we live in a culture that promotes dis-embodiment) it’s likely that we will experience confusion around depleting energy in our bodies and it may cause us to feel further frustration, this time at ourselves, for not performing well in our work out.

So, it’s important to share a little about how emotions work to link this all together, so here we go…

Our emotions are feeling states, they are crucial information for us to live well in harmony with both ourselves, others and the world around us. Many feel that when they get in touch with feelings, in particular the difficult ones such as anger or sadness, that they will be overcome by them, that they will not survive their assault.

Quite often I find that if we never learned to feel our emotions as a child, we begin to fear them. As a child we may have experienced terrible sadness but had no one to support us in that, or perhaps no one gave us permission to even feel it or express it in the first place.

So, with our wonderful genius child thinking we found a way to adapt, and possibly the only way was for us to ignore that feeling too and develop techniques to suppress it. Not learning how to feel emotions and safely grounding ourselves after doing so (regulation) can lead us down a path of denying us the richness of our bodies and creating an unhealthy fear of feeling. It deprives us of the skill to regulate ourselves!

When we do give ourselves permission to feel an emotion and to be with it without denying it, we ride the wave of emotion and our mind and body reconnect. Once passed we may feel a little tired and blurry depending on its strength, but in time we can feel better for it as the emotion has moved in flow, it has expelled helping us to regain homeostasis of the body.

This may need to be repeated several times depending on the circumstance, there is no time limit with the body/mind but it will let you know when it’s regaining a sense of flow. Sometimes it’s best to seek out a professional who can help you do this safely.

Not developing the skill to safely feel and express an emotion can also lead to a storage of survival stress within the body. So, today’s negative emotions that are spiked in response to stress within relationships, work, life events etc can leave the body grasping to find a balance within itself chemically and energetically because these new feelings are adding to the backlog of stored emotions already lodged in the body and nervous system. (survival stress).

All stored survival stress lodged in our bodies will more easily activate our fight or flight system in our present daily life. Sometimes the smallest inconveniences of today can activate our nervous system and our amygdala is hijacked. Our primitive survival part of our brain comes into action and mobilizes our bodies ready to address the threat.

Unfortunately, in our modern day living there is no lion waiting around the corner for us to run away from. We therefore can’t burn off all that adrenalin that has been pumped into our muscles ready for action. We remain static, and the adrenalin stays in our muscles and organs, tiring them and draining our system. The next day we head into the gym for our daily session after a good sleep, balanced nutrition and wonder why we are so fatigued.

fatigued

Our goal in western culture is to become reconnected with our bodies, to accept ourselves for who and what we are. To feel our bodies, our emotions and express them where it’s safe to do so. Let’s all learn how to become embodied once more, it’s an amazing piece of kit that we’re only using a small part of.

Let’s learn it’s language, how to notice it, what it’s telling us, how to soothe it, rest it when it needs to recharge and stop overriding it’s healthy needs. When the body says ‘no’, it’s time we listen. Let’s learn how to live in flow.

Discussion (1)

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amyfaithamy profile image
AmyFaith

Wow, I never considered my general emotional state when it comes to my gym time before.