So often we refer to parts of the body when we discuss emotions. You may speak of a shiver running down your spine, butterflies in your stomach, or cold feet. Researchers wanted to understand whether we feel emotions in our bodies and, if so, where?
In search of answers, a Finish research group recruited 1,000 people to participate in a study to identify body zones affected by emotions. The researchers provoked emotional reactions through video, stories, and pictures. Research subjects were given five clusters of emotions and body functions into which to sort their feelings.
The researchers compiled body maps based on the subject responses. The research shows that emotional body maps are the same across cultures.
All emotions created sensations in the head and most in the chest area. Emotions that might result in an active response showed upper limb sensation. Depression decreased the activity in the limbs, but happiness created an all-embracing feeling across the body.
What this study means for future medical or psychological interventions remains to be seen. But I have a gut feel that this study could help counselors to better understand emotions. It may also help us to better emotional self-care as we learn how to check in with our own mental health.