Negative perceptions and their effect on the body

The human body is a complex and fascinating entity. It has the ability to store and stash away negative perceptions and experiences at a cellular level. When we experience a negative event or emotion, our body reacts and adapts to it in a physiological manner. This can include changes in muscle tension, heart rate, and breathing patterns, as well as the release of stress hormones.

However, over time, these stored negative perceptions and experiences can lead to a variety of physical and emotional health problems. Chronic stress, for instance, can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and weakened immune function. Negative emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness can also contribute to mental health issues such as depression and chronic anxiety. And tension related to the anticipation of physical pain, as in vaginismus, can be mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting, leading to decreased social engagement, self-care, or engagement in everyday routines.

One of the ways that the body stores negative perceptions and experiences is through the development of habitual physical patterns. For example, if someone experiences chronic stress, they may develop tense muscles in their neck and shoulders, which can eventually become a habit. This tension can contribute to headaches, back pain, and other physical symptoms. For someone experiencing vaginismus, the anticipation of pain can cause chronic tension of the pelvic floor, potentially leading to more lasting bowel and bladder issues.

Moreover, negative perceptions and experiences can also be stored in the body’s fascia. Fascia is a connective tissue that surrounds muscles and organs, and it can become tight and restrictive, leading to pain and discomfort. This can have a significant impact on physical and emotional well-being. There’s a good amount of interesting research showing the fascial connection between the jaw and the pelvis. Stress-related jaw tension can lead to a shortening and constricting of this fascial connection resulting in pelvic dysfunction and pain.

Fortunately, there are ways to address the negative perceptions and experiences stored in the body. A holistic approach that focuses on both physical and psychological factors is necessary, but often elusive to find in the traditional medical model approach to health and wellness. Techniques such as mindfulness, nervous system down regulation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help individuals become more aware of their physical and emotional responses to stress and negative experiences. By developing greater self-awareness, individuals can begin to release the stored negative perceptions and experiences that are contributing to physical and emotional health problems.

Practices such as yoga and massage (even self massage) can also help release tension in the fascia and promote physical and emotional healing. Yoga provides the body with gentle movement patterns that promote optimized physical postures with breathing techniques and mindfulness. It is a highly effective way to release tension, improve flexibility and strength, and promote relaxation, although I must caution women with vaginismus to engage in yoga practices that relax, rather than contract the pelvic floor. Massage, on the other hand, is a hands-on therapy that involves the manipulation of soft tissues in the body. It can help release tension, reduce pain and inflammation, and promote relaxation. Self-massage, although a bit more difficult to perform, can provide fascial tension relief if done effectively.

For women who are dealing with vaginismus, negative perceptions and experiences can be stored in the body and impact their sexual health, relationships, and perception of self. This can be caused by physical, emotional, or psychological factors, and it can lead to significant emotional distress for both the women and her partner.

Pain-free Intimacy has developed a comprehensive Mind-Body-Sex Reset program designed to help women with vaginismus break free of negative perception patterns that have been stored in their body. The program focuses on a holistic approach that addresses both physical and psychological factors. It incorporates practices such as mindfulness, nervous system harmonization/regulation, yoga, massage, and many other researched-based techniques to help release tension and promote relaxation to achieve pain-free sex. Through this program, women can learn to develop greater self-awareness and overcome negative perceptions and experiences that are contributing to painful sex.

For more information on our comprehensive Mind-Body-Sex Reset program and how this can benefit you in your vaginismus recovery to have great, fun, pain-free sex, schedule a free consultation call.

References:

Carlson, L.E., Garland, S.N. Impact of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on sleep, mood, stress and fatigue symptoms in cancer outpatients. Int. J. Behav. Med. 12, 278–285 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327558ijbm1204_9

Schleip R, Müller DG. Training principles for fascial connective tissues: scientific foundation and suggested practical applications. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2013 Jan;17(1):103-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.06.007. Epub 2012 Jul 21. PMID: 23294691.

McEwen BS. Central effects of stress hormones in health and disease: Understanding the protective and damaging effects of stress and stress mediators. Eur J Pharmacol. 2008 Apr 7;583(2-3):174-85. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2007.11.071. Epub 2008 Jan 30. PMID: 18282566; PMCID: PMC2474765.

Turk, D. C., & Okifuji, A. (2002). Psychological factors in chronic pain: evolution and revolution. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 70(3), 678-690.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: past, present, and future. Clinical psychology: Science and practice, 10(2), 144-156.

Van der Velde, J., & Everaerd, W. (2001). The relationship between involuntary pelvic floor muscle activity, muscle awareness and experienced threat in women with and without vaginismus. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 39(4), 395–408. doi:10.1016/s0005-7967(00)00007-3

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