Life is a roller coaster of emotions. You can experience happiness, sadness, fear and elation all in one day. But did you know these emotions could also be having a direct impact on your physical health?
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Physical pain is your body’s way of asking you to solve a mystery. You might wonder if your back pain is due to sitting at a computer for too long, or if your shoulder pain is due to overdoing it at the gym? These are great questions and can definitely be the cause of your physical pain. But did you also know that your physical pain could be influenced by how you feel emotionally?
There is an increasing amount of research linking our emotional and physical health. Three well-known people leading the way in this work are Louise Hay, Dr Lissa Rankin and scientist Bruce Lipton. Due to their work we now know that the physical symptoms we experience are often a direct reflection of what is going on in our unconscious mind.
So how do you know if your emotional health needs attention? Here are three examples you might be able to relate to:
1. In my work as a physiotherapist one of the most common problems I see women present with is a tight and painful shoulder. Not only that but their stories are all similar. They have a self-limiting belief that they need to be, and do, everything for everyone. They are literally ‘carrying the weight of the world on their shoulder’.
2. Another common problem that women present with is a stiff neck that prevents them turning their head to one side. These women are often dealing with someone close to them making a choice they don’t agree with. This decision has hurt them and they are finding it hard to ‘turn the other cheek’.
3. The third most common problem I see is back pain. While disc ruptures are not uncommon, most women I see present with muscle spasm. Again there is often a deep-rooted emotion playing out behind the scenes. In this scenario it is often to do with money. Their finances are restricting them from doing the things they want to do (as is their back spasm!).
So what can you do right now to start learning how to tune in, listen and understand what your body is telling you? Firstly, I would encourage you to start with a simple practice called ‘Breathe, Feel and Ask’:
Breathe – lie on your yoga mat, or your bed, and slow your breathing down until you drop in to a state of mindfulness.
Feel – then do a scan of your body and tune in to the areas that feel tight, stiff or sore. Begin at your head and move down to your toes, or start at your toes and move up.
Ask – once you are aware of the areas of your body that are tight or sore ask yourself two questions: “What is going on in my life right now that may be making me feel this way?” and “If this pain was an emotion what would it be?”
Secondly spend 10 minutes (or less!) journaling about what has come up for you. Just writing down your emotions and feelings around these two questions can help you release some of the negative energy from your body.
And thirdly, I want you to do add one simple act of self-care into each day. So often we think of self-care as hour-long bubble baths, half-day excursions to the spa or long weekends lying on the beach. While those things sound lovely they are not something that most of us can indulge in on a regular basis!
I like to think of self-care as the small things we do each day for ourselves that, done consistently over a long time, keep our energy recharged and our mind and body feeling well. Simple things like lighting a candle while having a shower, taking five minutes to have a cuddle with your dog when you get home from work, listening to your favourite podcast while cooking dinner or just going to bed 15 minutes earlier to read a chapter of your book.
Your body is clever, and in a lot more ways than you may give it credit for. It talks to you all the time, letting you know there is something you need to uncover and let go of. And if you don’t? Your body will start screaming louder until the little niggle turns into chronic pain or illness.
I encourage you to start listening to your body and what it is trying to tell you.