Interoception, which essentially is your body’s internal awareness of self, allows us to be able to process and regulate our emotions.

Let’s think about interoception as our way to perceive our internal senses, such as our heart rate, respiratory rate, satiety, bowel movements, and bladder. It is a way for us to connect to our autonomic nervous system by a type of receptor, interoceptors, giving information to our brain.

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Our interoceptors are located in our viscera, as well as in our fascia in the free nerve endings. We have seven times more interoceptors than proprioceptors. Proprioceptors are sensory receptors located in the subcutaneous tissues. They are capable of detecting the motion and position of the body through a stimulus produced within the body. The sensory information from our interoceptors is processed in the insular cortex in the brain, where we can regulate our emotions. The insula plays a huge role in regulating homeostasis for us. It ultimately regulates our autonomic nervous system, our sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. It has a role in visceral function, immune regulation, and ultimately, our survival mechanisms.

How can you improve your interoception?

By tuning into our body. The less tuned in we are, the less resilient we become, and we lose the ability to buffer stress. One of the ways you can do this is by sitting quietly, closing your eyes if you’d like, while asking yourself these questions:

1. How are you feeling at this moment?

2. Is your heart beating fast or slow?

3. Is your breath shallow or deep?

4. Do you have to go to the bathroom?

5. Do you feel hungry?

Now take a moment to reflect on that experience. Was that something that was easy for you? Was it something that is common for you? Or did it seem foreign? This is a great way to begin to develop this internal awareness of self—to tune in to your senses and what your body is telling you.

Other ways to improve interoception

Another great way to improve interoception is through movement. As I mentioned, these interoceptors are located in our fascial tissue, and this is where we store emotions. You want to think about moving and expressing your body in various planes of movement. For example, upward rhythmical motions can evoke a sense of happiness. If you are feeling down, performing exercises like dance or animal flow can be very uplifting.

All of this will help with stimulating the fascial receptors and interoceptors, thus optimizing your internal awareness of self. Developing your interoceptive skills is a journey. It is something that with practice has been shown to improve mental and physical health, improve your association with yourself and others, and optimize your well-being. 

Hopefully, you can start this journey today if you are not already and begin to tune into your body and emotions. If this is helpful, make sure to give it a share with a friend or family member. 

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Are you in tune with your body? | INTEROCEPTION

Did you ever wonder why some people are so much more in tune with their emotions and their bodies than others? Did you ever wonder how in-tune you are with yourself?

Interoception, otherwise known as your internal awareness is also referred to as the eighth sense, one that we’re a little less familiar with. It also tells us about our autonomic function, such as respiration, digestion, our heartbeat, and even our emotions. We have visceral receptors that are constantly giving us information about our internal senses, but often times we don’t listen to them.

At the most basic level, interoception allows us to ask the question, how do I feel? Am I hungry? Am I safe? or Am I full? Am I sad? Do I have to go to the bathroom? Being in tune with what is happening inside your body is an amazing skill to have and has been shown to improve emotional regulation.

Interoception helps us to be able to manage our bodies, listen to signals, and take action. Having this greater sense of internal awareness helps us to be able to manage our emotions as well.

We often tend to stuff our emotions and push them away as if they don’t exist. When we can be in touch with our own body, emotions, feelings, and be able to learn how to express them, we can have a better quality of life. This also decreases our risk of chronic disease and illness that is associated with not being in tune with all of those things.

So you may be wondering, how can I test my interception?

A simple heart rate test: You can do this by sitting in a chair with your arms down to your side. 

Close your eyes or keep them open and without actually putting your hands on your body try to take your pulse. You want to attempt to sense your pulse, your heartbeat, for one minute.

After you record your number, then you will actually take your pulse. To do this, you will use your pointer finger and middle finger and put them on your wrist on the thumb side to feel your radial pulse. You can also use those two fingers and put them right behind your jawline to feel your carotid pulse.

You want to use very gentle pressure, and you should not need to dig in. Take your pulse for one minute and record your findings. You’ll wait two minutes, and then you repeat the test. Then, average the results of both the actual pulse and the sensed pulse.

Now to complete the following calculation:

1- ((Average heart rate – estimated heart rate)/ average heart rate) = _______

For your results: a result of .80 or higher indicates that you are very intercepted aware.

A score of .60 to .79 indicates you’re moderately self-aware.

Lastly, a result of less than .59 indicates that you have poor interoception.

Although this is not the only way to measure your self-awareness, it is a good starting point. If you find that you have poor self-awareness, that is okay. There are lots of ways that you can begin to improve your internal awareness.

Mindfulness is one of the best ways to become more in tune and aware of your emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, surroundings, and become present in your own life. Many times, we are anxious about the future or we may be depressed about the past, when in fact being present is actually a really wonderful place to be.

Hopefully, you will appreciate how important it is to develop and integrate these interoceptive skills in your life so that you can be fully present and enjoy everything life has to offer.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

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