Interoception: the hidden sense that shapes wellbeing

David Robson, ‘Interoception: the hidden sense that shapes wellbeing’,, The Guardian, Guardian News & Media Limited (15 Aug 2021)

Interoception may be less well known than the “outward facing” senses such as sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell, but it has enormous consequences for your wellbeing. Scientists have shown that our sensitivity to interoceptive signals can determine our capacity to regulate our emotions, and our subsequent susceptibility to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. (…) Importantly, these findings include promising new ways for you to “tune in” to the body and alter your perception of its interoceptive signals – techniques that may help treat a host of mental health problems. (…) Much of the processing of these signals takes place below conscious awareness: you won’t be aware of the automatic feedback between brain and body that helps to keep your blood pressure level, for instance, or the signals that help to stabilise your blood sugar levels. But many of these sensations – such as tension in your muscles, the clenching of your stomach, or the beating of your heart – should be available to the conscious mind, at least some of the time. (…) The new awareness of interoception can help us to understand why certain physical exercises can be so good for our mental health.