3 months ago I was both emotionally and physically drained, my health had deteriorated and I was feeling sucked of all energy. For at least 1 month prior I had been ignoring some pretty big warning signs my body had been giving me. I was emotionally a mess, completely stressed out to the point where I was having terrible disrupted sleep every night, and my face had broken out in the most painful pimples. Not only did I suddenly have these painful pimples, my forehead was covered in these weird small bumps, something I had never had before. My digestion was a nightmare, I suddenly had gas, bloating and constipation and after every meal I just didn't feel good.
I knew for quite some time how my body had manifested these physical symptoms however I was living in denial and didn't want to face the reality of the situation. It wasn't until I broke my toe that I knew that something seriously had to change. I had been arguing with my boyfriend constantly for about a week at that point and I had managed to get myself so angry about the whole situation that with full force I ran into my bed, and as it turns out broke my toe. Ouch!!
For a long time I had been feeling misunderstood, not listened to in my relationship which, as a result had created some pretty unpleasant emotions that I had not been listening to. Emotions are energy in motion, so when we are not processing the emotion and the energy behind the emotion our body will internalise this energy because the energy has to go somewhere. Many chronic illnesses have been linked to manifestations relating to emotional trauma or stress (this I will cover in another post!) I knew I had to make some changes and start seriously looking after my health, I had to come first. And so it was a really difficult and horrible decision to break up with my boyfriend. The emotional stress it had caused had far out weighed my happiness and I knew that I just couldn't put my body through so much stress anymore.
Today I want to share with you 5 ways emotional stress can impact your health. These health issues I have faced recently and could possibly be affecting you also. I am not a doctor and am sharing my experiences for education purposes only, if you are having health problems please see a health care professional who is able to help diagnose your symptoms further.
When we have an emotional whirlwind inside of us we can be caught up in our head a lot, by this I mean our minds are in overdrive and are going from one thought to another without realising we are doing so. Our sleep or lack there of can tend to be due to emotional stress because our body doesn't differentiate the difference between emotional stress and other stress. During a stress response known as "flight or fight" our body triggers the production of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. At night especially cortisol levels should be at there lowest levels, however if we are experiencing high emotional stress your body will continue production of this hormone. Our highest levels of cortisol should be found in the morning, and it is this hormone which actually helps us naturally wake up. Setting the intention to create a calming and relaxing night time ritual is imperative in reducing stress and creates an peaceful environment for us to get good nights sleep.
As mentioned being under emotional stress or overwhelm triggers the body's "flight or fight" response in your central nervous system. The release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol actually get our body prepared and fired up to deal with the threat that has caused the response in the first place. Unfortunately our body doesn't know the difference between an actual threat like a tiger chasing you, or a fight with your boyfriend. As your body is going into "flight or fight" mode the circulation of blood around your organs move closer to your extremities including your arms and legs to physically deal with the threat. This means that your digestion shuts down, contracts your digestive muscles and decreases the secretions needed for digestion to take place. So when we eat during a stressful time, our body simply isn't prepared for digestion, which causes bloating, gas, stomach cramps and even constipation or diarrhoea. I have found taking a vegetable enzyme capsule before meals works wonders during emotional or extreme stress, they are available at most health food shops and are all natural.
Research has shown a direct link between emotional stress and stress in general and the negative impact it can have on your skin. With the prolonged activation of the "flight or fight" response our body is subjected to inflammation. Inflammation is your body's mechanism for fighting cell injury in the body, which can be caused by constant stress which as a result damages our cells. Inflammation is actually our body's way of repairing cell or tissue injury however in the process does damage to the cells in order long term healing to take place. As a result our skin can be affected causing breakouts, rashes and pimples, some people even get psoriasis or ecsema as a result of chronic long term inflammation. Try drinking water with a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before meals as this will help not only with digestion but also helps restore and balance the pH levels of your skin.
My skin July 2015
My skin September 2015
Under emotional stress we may lose weight or if you're like me you may put on weight. Having a history of emotional eating I know that in recent months I was eating more than I needed to make me satisfied, as I needed a physical barrier. Basically I was using food to keep my emotions stuffed down. I suppressed a lot of my emotions and feelings with food and as a result also created a physical barrier between myself and other people to keep myself protected emotionally (hence the weight gain). Being a highly sensitive person I am sensitive to sounds, light and the environment around me, so while the weight gain was subconscious our emotional body type (more on that to come) can directly impact our weight. If you suffer from emotional eating try eating more slowly and mindfully and enjoying the experience of eating food for the sake of eating for nourishment and not trying to bottle up your emotions, I know this technique has helped me a lot in overcoming emotional eating.
Whilst there are many medical explanations to hormonal imbalances something you may not be too familiar with is emotions which can be related to hormone imbalances. On a subconscious level emotions or feelings of weakness or not being good enough can trigger endocrine responses. Holding back tears because you feel it is a sign of weakness or feelings of unworthiness can affect our health. The negative emotions trigger the stress response in our body, and hence or "flight or fight" response will be activated again, causing the body to deal with the potential threat.
Whilst emotions are not measurable in terms of intensity and are different for everyone, emotional wellbeing and our physical health have a direct correlation. When we are emotionally in tune with our bodies and allow ourselves to feel our feelings we are honouring ourselves in a way that is vital to both our emotional health but also our physical health. Establishing a beautiful self care practice is essential for keeping both your emotional health and your physical health balanced. If you are dealing with emotional stress you may also find it beneficial to get support from family or friends or even a counsellor. Communicating your feelings and emotions is also key when experiencing emotional stress.
How are you honouring your emotions? Have you ever experienced physical symptoms related to emotional stress?
Share in the comments below I would love to hear your thoughts :)
PS. If this resonates with you and if you're struggling with emotional stress why not send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how I can help you.