Your Body: the Stress Barometer

Written for & published by In Her Shoes Foundation (April 2014)

By Melissa Doman, M.A.

Can you think back to a stressful time where you felt emotionally burnt out, but also felt like things were going a little haywire in your body too?

Whether it was an uneasy stomach, a fast heartbeat, backaches, or tingling on your scalp – these did not happen by coincidence when your life circumstances took a trip to Dramatown.

Make no mistake, when you notice painful, uncomfortable, or strange things happening to your body when you’re going through loco times – your body is trying to tell you something is awry. And guess what, there's a hard-line from your mind to your body, and it'll try to communicate that stress to you.

The mind-body connection has been proven over and over again to be quite real.

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Look at your body as a tape recorder. It makes a copy of everything that happens around you and stores it not only in your mind, but your body too. This storage, unfortunately, can often manifest as negative physical symptomology that no one enjoys experiencing. If you absorb all of your environment’s energy around you, it 'll morph into something not enjoyable if it’s not cleansed out of you. These symptoms, as uncomfortable as they are, act as a warning signals to us that not only says something isn't right, but is literally physically weighing on you too.

When we’re cerebrally distracted and there’s a lot going on, we may not even realize these physical symptoms that may be related to what’s going on around us. If that’s not a clue that we as a culture are pushed to move at the speed of light, then I don’t know what is.

Physical manifestation of emotional distress is a sign that what’s going on around you is in fact more than your brain can process, and now your body is not only compensating, but is being kept from functioning at optimum capacity.

Now, when these things happen, you have two choices.

One, you can ignore it and allow it to get worse and more uncomfortable. Two, you can recognize it, and make a stress management plan to help get those symptoms under control to move forward. The choice is ultimately yours.

While making your choice, make sure to remember that the cumulative effects of untreated physical stress will not be kind to you later in life as you get older (i.e. digestive issues, heart strain, blood pressure problems, potential of a stroke, etc.).

You get the picture and it should make your choice an easy one.

Please keep in mind that if for any reason the physical symptoms you develop are beyond a manageable level, and they begin to truly concern you, definitely reach out to a medical professional for an assessment/recommendations. The same goes for reaching out to a mental health counselor as needed.

Creating a process to help you deal with physical symptoms of stress should be made your own, so there’s no need to feel pressure to become the ideal yogi, a meditation master, or the most balanced person you know. Let's be realistic here kids. It’s best to pick a few methods that you know will help restore stillness and calm in your body if you’re experiencing rough seas in your life.

There are 5 methods in particular that are good staples in this process: mediation, mindfulness, exercise, healthy clean eating, and keeping your life drama-lite. If you do nothing else, try to consider these five ways to keep your mind and body feng shui’d.

Take two and call me in the morning. I.e.: pick and choose combos depending on the situations and you'll find yourself a tad more resilient and calm when the proverbial s**t hit's the fan.

Happy stress managing!