If you’ve ever been heartbroken and literally felt it in your chest, there may have been more to it than you thought.
A study has proved that emotions affect the body in different and distinctive ways, which are perhaps the root of such descriptions as being heavy with sadness or hot-headed with anger.
For instance, when we are angry, we are more aware of our head and arms than usual – perhaps because we are subconsciously squaring up for a fight. Sadness has the opposite effect, leaving our limbs, including arms feeling weak.
However, we are extra-aware of activity in our chest – and heart.Depression also leaves us feeling weak, while disgust is felt in the throat and digestive system.
The findings come from Finnish researchers who showed 700 volunteers films and read them stories designed to evoke particular emotions.
The men and women were then given outlines of bodies and asked to colour in the parts they felt became more active or less active.The results were the same across cultures, with love ‘felt’ right down to people’s toes and happiness suffusing the whole body with feeling.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said that such physical feelings may underpin the way we experience emotions.
The University of Turku researchers said: ‘Unravelling the subjective bodily sensations associated with human emotions may help us better understand mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.’
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