Body reactions to emotions

Body reactions to emotions
Main Topic
Health – General
Additional Topic(s)
Health - Mental
Health - Physical
30-60 minutes
Implementation Mode
Indoor F2F
- To learn about the impact of emotions on our bodies
- To recognize the emotions of others

Desired Outcomes:
Participants will learn about different situations and observe their own emotional response, what happens in their body and what they do with a particular emotion.

Overview of Activity
It is important for a person's self-esteem, personal maturity and stability that they are able to identify, name and articulate their emotions and understand how they affect their behaviour. Emotions change physiologically in our bodies, they influence our thoughts and, if unchecked, our reactions. Physiological and bodily reactions are only partly influenced by us. But we can do more if we reflect on the situation that provoked a particular emotion, and we can choose and change our behaviour. Experiencing and expressing emotions also involves to a large extent relationships with other people. As adolescents learn to recognize and understand the links between social situations, their interpretations and emotions, they strengthen their social awareness. Expressing and managing emotions is very important for mental wellbeing.
Description of Activity
Ask participants to think of unpleasant situations they have experienced, and if they wish they can tell about the situation to the group. Then ask them to think of pleasant situations and if they wish they can say how they feel about pleasant situation. The facilitator makes sure that there is enough time for the participants to relive the situation. If necessary, during the unpleasant and pleasant situation, the facilitator performs an icebreaker.

Then the leader tell the participants that he/she is going to read out some situations and that the task of participant is to try to empathise with the situation as much as possible and to say what emotions they are experiencing and what reactions are happening in their body (e.g. sweating, strong heartbeat, shaking hands....).

Situations to read to participants:
- A classmate insulted me in front of others.
- I have to tell my parents who are expecting a good grade that I got a bad grade.
- At school, a group of students blackmail me for money.
- A boy/girl I like has invited me for ice-cream.
- My best friend started hanging out a lot with another classmate.
- I am going to move to a distant place and leave my friends behind.
- For my birthday I got what I always wanted.

After finishing with situations, we do some reflection about how they feel during this activity.
For the end we tell the participants that it is important to recognise our feelings because only then can we manage them in a way that does not harm ourselves or others.
Sources & Additional Materials
- Experiential, group work

- The workshop leader prepares a handout describing the basic emotions (e.g. anger: speaking louder, power, showing teeth, staring, clenching teeth and fists, tense body....)
- Photos of people expressing a particular emotion
Additional Notes
Adopted from:
Internal material from the 2nd year social pedagogy students in 2023.

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