6 exercises to stop somatizing, explained
Some tips and activities to do on a daily basis to stop somatizing.
On many occasions, the body sends us signals that something is wrong. Our stomach hurts, we feel nausea, we have tremors... and, apparently, there is no medical problem.
But there are problems. We feel so much psychological discomfort that it has been transferred to our body in the form of physical symptoms. This is known as somatization and it is a very common phenomenon.
Since many people suffer from these symptoms, there are many who wonder what exercises to do to stop somatizing. wonder what exercises they can do to stop somatization.. Here we will see a list of some of them, very useful and easy to incorporate in our day to day.
Recommended exercises to stop somatizing and feel better.
Somatization is to convert our psychological problems into organic symptoms, that is, it is the physical expression of psychological discomfort. The mind and the body are closely related and, as hard as it may be for some people to understand, if we do not take care of our psyche our organism will be seriously damaged.
Stress, tension and any negative emotion sustained for a long time causes our immune system to be impaired, making us prone to illnesses and diseases.We are prone to illnesses and other medical problems.
When we somatize we feel stomach pains, nausea, headaches, Migraines and even vomiting. Our defenses are weakened and there are changes in hormone secretion and metabolic processes. Of course, psychological problems can cause us a lot of organic damage and that is why it is so important to learn to manage our emotions, going to a professional but also incorporating exercises to stop somatizing.
1. Recognizing negative emotions
A stomach ache or nausea are symptoms that are very easy to feel, in the sense that, when they occur, we are well aware that we are suffering from them. When they do not go away in any way and have no obvious medical cause, such as an infection or other illness, there is most likely an underlying psychological problem. It is not going to go away because we try to let time pass; what we have to do is to identify what negative emotion is behind our organic discomfort..
The help of a psychologist will never be dispensable. Seeing a mental health professional can help us a lot to introspect and see the origins of our discomfort. However, we can make some progress on our own by stopping to think about what it is that is really making us feel bad, we can make some progress on our own by stopping to think about what it is that really makes us feel this way.. Recognizing negative emotions is the first step to feeling better.
Once we have recognized the emotion, we will write it down on a piece of paper, describing everything that is related to it: our past experiences, what physical symptoms it causes us, how it appears in our mind (obsession, anxiety, fear...) and we will do something as simple as saying it out loud. We will mention it, being clear about what it is and what it is not, without ambiguities. This is the maximum time we are going to let it occupy in our lives, nothing more. Once everything is said, we will try to focus on the tasks we have to do.
It is possible that by doing this exercise we may come up with our own rational solutions to the problem. It is good that, as long as they are not harmful neither for us nor for other people, we try to apply them. Also, in case we are going to the psychologist, discuss them with him/her to see what guidelines he/she thinks we should take.. All this is the first step to reduce our somatization.
2. Take care of the physical and move
As we have said, the relationship between mind and body is close, and also bidirectional. Both if we take care of the mind and if we take care of the body we benefit both. This is why it is so important to take care of the physical and to move. By this we do not mean to boast about the physical aspect, but rather to taking care of our body by eating a healthy and rich diet, doing sports, not consuming tobacco and not abusing alcohol. and avoid, in essence, any factor that harms our body.
Although doing sport does not cure depression or anxiety as many people believe, it does reduce the symptoms of these problems, and it can also be the push to take a more optimistic view of life. In any case, doing exercise releases endorphins and other neurochemical substances that increase our psychological well-being and, consequently, reduce somatization. Any physical activity will help us to have better sleep quality and improve our immunity against diseases.
3. Breathing control
Breathing exercises are a classic in psychological practice. Controlling the way we breathe helps us to relax and keep anxiety under control.
A good controlled breathing exercise consists of putting one hand on the abdomen and the other on the chest, breathing in and holding the air for 7 seconds.After the first 8 seconds, we breathe out slowly for 8 seconds and notice how we slowly contract the abdominal muscles. This breathing cycle should be done every 10 seconds, with about 6 breaths per minute.
4. Yoga and relaxation
Another classic. It may not go well with some people, but there are many psychologists who recommend their patients to attend a yoga course or do it at home watching tutorials on the Internet. Leaving aside the esoteric part of this practice, the truth is that yoga is a good exercise to reduce anxiety and, as a positive side effect, its somatic effects.
Another alternative are the relaxation techniques, very recurrent in psychology.. Some of the most used are the Jakobson relaxation technique or body scanning. These techniques consist of paying attention to each part of the body, being aware of its sensations, position, posture, temperature and other associated aspects. There are many resources that teach these practices in depth.
5. Listening to and making music
It seems obvious, but still it is not wrong to point it out. When we listen to music that we like, the production of dopamine increases.the neurotransmitter associated with pleasurable sensations, and cortisone, the stress hormone, is reduced. Music can greatly improve our mood, whether it is our favorite music, although ambient and New Age are quite good options. If what we want is to be energetic, music with fast rhythms, such as that used in fitness sessions, is ideal.
But not only listening to it helps us to somatize less. If we know how to play an instrument, even if it is the flute they made us play at school, it is a very good way to de-stress. Creating music, being creative and enjoying it are good reducers of our psychological problems, since they cheer us up and take our attention away from all the physical symptoms associated with them.
6. Shout out
Sometimes, all we need is a good scream. We let out all the energy that we have accumulatedthat is eating us up inside. Shouting is a good option, as long as it is done in a place like a mountain, in the middle of the countryside or in a place enabled for it. The grace is to release everything that we consider to be the psychological origin of our physical discomfort, although, of course, it is not going to be fixed by magic. It would be a more "powerful" version of point 1.
By shouting we should not think that we are recommending shouting at those people we believe to be the cause of our discomfort. That is not the way to fix the problems we may have with them. By doing so, what we will generate is more tension and relational problems, which will increase our discomfort and, consequently, our somatization. Shouting should be done towards nothingness, towards a place where we want our problems to go and disappear, to leave us in peace.
- Martínez-González, L., Olvera-Villanueva, G. and Villarreal-Ríos, E. (2018). Effect of deep breathing technique on anxiety level in older adults. Nursing Journal of the Mexican Institute of Social Security, 26(2): 99-104.
- Dreeben, Samuel & Mamberg, Michelle & Salmon, Paul. (2013). The MBSR body scan in clinical practice. Mindfulness. 4. 394-401. 10.1007/s12671-013-0212-z.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)