When you are experiencing mental or emotional stress – from working too long and too hard, after an argument with someone you love, when deadlines are approaching, when your dog has gone missing – you might notice that suddenly you have a very painful headache, that your neck and shoulders ache, that you have been grinding your teeth, that you cannot relax enough to fall asleep. You might develop a sudden and severe cold or some gastro-intestinal upset. Your skin might break out in spots. These infuriating and debilitating episodes are rarely simply coincidental. Each of us is a whole complex organism, and what affects one aspect of our being will also have an impact on the rest of our make-up.
It has now been proved that the efficiency and effectiveness of our immune system can be undermined as much by other stressful life events as by infections. Our bodies are wonderfully resilient and adaptable, but this resilience and adaptability is not infinite – if we push ourselves too hard, too far or too fast our bodies will let us know by calling a halt. Sometimes this can be quite dramatic e.g. legs giving way, a voice disappearing, severe abdominal pain – with no identifiable physical infection as the cause. The effect is that we have to stop, or at least to slow down, until this uncomfortable symptom is reduced. Our body has engineered a break from the stress-inducing situation.
Sometimes the warning is less extreme, like a headache, a queasy feeling, loss of appetite, some stiffness in joints. These are all signs that something is not quite right. If you can become aware of this warning and take steps to deal with it at this early stage, not simply by taking pills to mask the symptom but by taking stock to identify and address the cause, you will benefit. If you feel that you need help and support in this stock-taking and subsequent adjustments in your life, get in touch with Birmingham Counseling Services by calling 0121 314 9903 or via our website: www.BirminghamCounsellingServices.co.uk One of our qualified and experienced counsellors could be there with you on what might feel like a hazardous and threatening journey of exploration.
It is really important to take care of yourself, to sleep, to eat, to stop and rest. If your body is fit and healthy it will support your mental and emotional activity. Take breaks, stand up, take your eyes off the screen, loosen your shoulders, breathe deeply (outside in fresh air if possible), drink water – very small acknowledgements that your body has needs too will pay dividends in increased concentration and enthusiasm.
In a future article, “Pamper Your Senses”, you will find some quick and easy suggestions of ways of giving your body a treat.