In times of stress and in its aftermath, the body speaks with lumps in our throats or a knot in our stomach. It speaks with headaches or a tightness in our arms. We may find ourselves stressed by certain thoughts or discomforted by difficult emotions. Any of these experiences can be a normal response to a stressful experience.
We as a people have survived so much. We are created with an ability to overcome some of the most difficult of times. At the time of high stress, we will only process the information need to survive stress, threat or harm.
Once we are back in a safe environment, the body automatically begins to reduce its primary focus from physical and external safety to safety for our mind and emotions. The body’s mission becomes coming to terms with the impact of the stressful experience. To help us toward that mission, the body will now speak with memories and emotions to help us know more about how we have been impacted by the stressful event.
The lump in our throat may be saying, “I’m sad that I didn’t get to say what I needed to say”. The tightness in our hands could be saying, “I’m still so angry”. The uneasiness in our stomach may be saying, “I don’t feel safe”. The restlessness or racing thoughts might be saying, “I don’t want to remember or feel that yet”.
Listening as the Body Speaks invites us toward a Deeper level of Wellness
Symptoms of Stress may include any of the following
- Unsettling memories or feelings
- Memories that feel like you’re reliving a stressful or disturbing experience
- Feeling disconnected from yourself and/or others
- Disturbed dreams or sleep
- Feeling distressed or disturbed emotions such as anger or sadness
- Decreased motivation
- Increased difficulty with making desired choices
As readily as we would offer care and regard to a stressed friend or family member, I hope we also offer ourselves a compassionate response of non-judgmental curiosity.
Listening to our mind and body will help us gain clarity on how to manage our stress in helpful ways. As you begin to listen, it may prove emotionally or mentally tiring to be present and listen to your body and mind express stressful thoughts and feelings. As a result, you may find yourself waiting long periods before you are ready to tune in to how your body is speaking to you. You may be working hard to assure yourself that you are okay even though you know deep down that something is still weighing you down.
There is enduring hope that the stress you feel today is not how you have to continue to feel, and there is help to support you toward functioning the way you want to. Hope and help are always available.
Ways To Cope:
- Listen to your mind and body and remain actively curious about what you hear
- Offer compassion
- Be gentle and kind
- Keep showing up to listen to your mind and body
- Pursue your needs
- Remember that it’s okay to be where you are today
- Remember that there’s hope
- Find increased strength through help
“The web of many spiders can tie up a lion” – Ethiopian Proverb