The Role Of Body Awareness In Mental Health

May 3, 2015

The Role of Body Awareness in Mental Health

by Stephanie Simpson, LCSW


For anyone who struggles with a mental health issue, it is very common to feel helpless when symptoms of depression, anxiety, anger, or past trauma rear their ugly head. One of the predicting factors of recovery is the extent to which a person feels in control. Although the occurrence of some symptoms can be spontaneous and unavoidable, we have much control over the intensity that we experience these symptoms. A crucial tool that allows us this control is our body awareness.

Body awareness, in the context of mental health, refers to the extent to which we are mindful of the cues that our body is sending.  Amazingly, our bodies our designed with a built in alert system that signals us to us when it is starting to feel threatened—our ‘fight or flight’ response.

Depending on the nature of the mental health struggle, this can appear in many different forms. For those having trouble managing their anger, they may notice their palms sweating, or clenching their teeth. In the instance of someone facing anxiety, they may notice rapid heart palpitations, or quickened breathing. Each of these symptoms will look different for every individual. When we are able to practice being more body aware, we increase our ability to intervene early. This allows us to self-soothe, and often results in a much less intense and more tolerable symptom experience.

Becoming body aware can take practice. If you are interested in contacting a therapist to help you become in tune with your symptoms, please call Associates in Psychotherapy at (866) 220-8371 to schedule an appointment.