“Listen to your body” is one of life’s golden rules and one that we rarely pay due attention to. Yet it is there, hidden in the notebook of healthy living that we often defy in relentless pursuit of our goals. The fact remains that whatever you’re chasing, be it a refined mind or a better physique- it is your body that transports you from A to B too fulfil your targets. As long as you have a physical body it makes sense to align it with your powerful mind, heart and soul, so that the choices you make or stresses you face don’t manifest externally as physical symptoms of pain. Particularly under times of stress or unease, you may ignore these vital warning signs of physical pain. If you are self-aware however and know something’s not quite right, you’ll know it’s time to hit the pause button…read on for these 5 Physical Warning Signs of Emotional Stress!
1. Headaches and migraines
A fatigue-induced headache is something that can be remedied fairly swiftly either by taking some time to relax, drinking more water, or reaching for some conventional or alternative medicine. Headaches and migraines are more of an issue when they become frequent or last longer than 12-24 hours. Mental worry, time constraints and anger are common initiators of headaches and migraines. Rather than continually mask or deny these signs and symptoms, it would be better to appreciate the warning signs and actively seek out ways to create more calm in your environment. Gentle yoga, relaxation techniques, or listening to some soothing music should help. Consider these if you’ve been feeling ‘attacked’ or judged in some way.
2. Neck stiffness or strain
This can be a symptom of a build up of unexpressed thoughts or emotions, stubbornness and anxiety. Of course, the trigger could just be not sleeping on the right kind of pillow or how you sit at your work station -there are many types of intrinsic and extrinsic stressors that can affect your neck mobility. Most tend to hunch up the shoulders when feeling threatened or when worried, and your throat can feel constricted when you don’t say what you need to say. If gentle mobility exercises or physical adjustments (or perhaps a kneeling chair) don’t do the trick, try journaling or sharing your thoughts with a confidante, ask yourself some questions and be honest about what your heart discloses to you. Your neck is the midway-point between head and heart so perhaps inner conflicts may manifest through neck issues.
3. Shoulder tension
Modern living is challenging and you may often struggle to cope because of the loss of the value of simplicity, gratitude for the small things in life and equilibrium along the way. You may literally feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. Shoulder tension is exacerbated when you continually take on too much physically, mentally or emotionally. That ‘weight’ can act like an invisible despotic giant, so look at your commitments, are you doing too much? How can you prioritise the essentials so that it doesn’t impact your health? Learning to let go of what does not serve you and creating balance and symmetry in life is a key area that helps with shoulder tension.
4. Lower back pain
Your spine is what your entire body and skeletal system relies and rests upon to stay upright and simply move. Pain at the base of your spine is wrongly dismissed because you don’t like to be restricted. You may battle on through the smaller aches until your back potentially tears a muscle that puts you out of action for a number of weeks. If you’re suffering from lower back pain it’s a sign of possibly everything above that you’ve not prioritised it enough to rectify it. Your back is your support system. Do you feel safe and supported and are your basic needs being met? Lower back pain can be an indicator of financial struggle, physical insecurity, being in a long-term ‘survival mode’ state and a lack of emotional support.
5. Stomach aches and ulcers
Your stomach is like your second brain and there is a definite brain-gut connection. Think of ‘butterflies in your belly’! Your gastrointestinal tract is highly sensitive to emotion. You may store many fears, worries and general emotion in your stomach. Feelings of nervousness and anxiety can work up a silent storm in there, leaving you prone to bouts of digestive issues and cramps, constipation and diarrhoea. Chronic stress is a prominent factor in stomach ulcers, cancer, and other persistent gut issues. We may put these aches and pains down to negativity and destructively poor eating habits so any changes to your nutrition can help immensely. However, if the underlying cause remains then in most cases so will the symptoms, to a correlative extent.
Your psycho physiological and even spiritual wellbeing is founded upon your connection to your own source of power. Your muscles are designed to contract and relax and your joints are constructed to move; if you’re in a continual state of pain or tension then hit the pause button of life and step off the merry-go-round for a little while. Listen to your own mind and gut to get to the root cause of something that needs attention, something you probably know you’ve been resisting for some time. By listening to yourself, you’ll be surprised how quickly things can get resolved: listen…and be free! Check out this interesting article from BetterHelp on the subject of stress. Have you been emotionally challenged and found your body changed because of stress, how do you manage it? Let us know below, join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. (While you’re here, why not check out our other articles on motivation & mindset?)