by Susan Farren, Founder and FRRI Instructor

Molecular neuroscientist, Lauri Nummenmaa, studied 700 volunteers in Finland, Sweden and Taiwan to identify where humans feel emotion (energy in motion) within their bodies.  After hundreds of interviews, they were able to create a “map” of where emotions are traditionally felt.

Combine this with research in Eastern medicine about energy flow, nerve channels, acupuncture and moxibustion of meridian sites and there is a very strong correlation between feelings and emotions and how they move through the human body. 

Although western science doesn’t always stand behind (or hasn’t caught up with) what is considered fact amongst some, it bears consideration when dealing with the physical and emotional stresses that impact first responders. 

Just consider for a moment how first responders are cultured (if not trained) to suppress their emotions on calls.  What a “normal” person might experience being exposed to trauma or loss (crying, screaming or any other of a host of outlets) would not be acceptable for a first responder to express while running a difficult call.  Add that to a series of back -to-back calls that are suppressed, and it would be easy to see how the energy that would normally be discharged by emotion would be stored in the tissue.

There have long been adages about “walking off” stress or “shaking it off” with good reason, suppressing emotions and stress have been linked with a host of conditions like indigestion, muscle pain, ulcers and the list goes on. 

Regardless of whether scientists, researchers and psychologists agree on exactly how the human body is affected by trauma and stress, we now know without a doubt it is.  With that knowledge, caring for our bodies and releasing the energy we are suppressing (consciously or unconsciously) could be paramount to our well-being.

So, just as taking care of the outside of our bodies is vital to our being able to do our jobs, consider how important it is to take care of the inside of our bodies as well.  Instead of just completing another call and heading back into a piece of apparatus or going back to the office or station, take a moment to release some of the stored energy.  Body weight squats, jumping jacks, wind sprints or even a full-body shake can release some of the impact of the events. 

Regardless of how you decide to safely release or discharge the energy of the experience, keep in mind that your whole being deserves to be honored and cared for.  Remember, it does us no good to serve as caregivers and protectors if we don’t take time to care for and protect ourselves.