We are all aware of our senses such as sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell but you may not be familiar with the term interoception even though it has a huge effect on our health and wellbeing. Interoception can be described as another sense and it describes your brains perception of your body’s state, transmitted from receptors found on all your internal organs.
These perceptions of sensations and signals from inside the body can be both conscious and non-conscious. For example, they include the feeling of physical sensation such as our heart beating and respiration (the act of breathing), or feeling hungry or feeling full after a meal.
The interoceptive signals also relate to the autonomic nervous system – the part of the nervous system that is responsible for our bodily functions which we do not consciously control, eg our cardiovascular system, kidney, lungs and gut but also our emotions. So while we may not be aware of some of these sensations, we feel others such as tensing our muscles or feeling our heart beat faster in certain situations.
So why are we talking about introception?
Reseachers are now finding more evidence that these signals sent from internal organs to our brain have a major role to play in regulating our emotions and helping us to deal with anxiety and depression. They believe that an individuals sensitivity to interoceptive signals can determine our ability to regulate not only our physical state but also our emotions which can subsequently affect our susceptibility to conditions including anxiety and depression.
Researchers have shown that the use of mindfulness and breathing techniques are achieving good results with increasing patients ‘introspective awareness’ to help them with mental health conditions such as anxiety.
Introception and exercise
Another area of research is the awareness of introception and physical exercise which has a positive effect on our mental health.
It is believed that regular exercise may change the signals that our brain receives resulting in better physical and emotional resilience in times of stress and strain.
Strength training in particular has been shown to be beneficial for many reasons including feelings of being stronger in our ability to deal with and have more control in both physical and emotional challenges.
We can help you listen to your body’s messages
At Luck’s Yard Clinic we aim to help our patients to start listening to what their bodies tell them. Interoception simply means inner body awareness, being able to hear what they body tells you.
Tone has made a couple of short films to help explain further how interoception can relate to chiropractic treatment and how our chiropractors and therapists help you understand your body and the subtle – and not so subtle! – messages it’s sending to you.
Click here to see the films:
You can read more about Introception here: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/aug/15/the-hidden-sense-shaping-your-wellbeing-interoception
Image: pexels.com Tara Winstead