Psychosomatic or not? The mind talking to the body in health

Did you know where the phrase “it’s all in your head” comes from?

The back­ground of that phrase comes from the idea we can cre­ate dis­ease, or symp­toms of dis­ease, by just think­ing about it.

Psychosomatic is the concept where you have phys­ic­al symp­toms of dis­ease due to men­tal or emo­tion­al causes. What that actu­ally means is plain eng­lish is that our wor­ries, fears, sad­ness, anger can actu­ally cause phys­ic­al sen­sa­tions in our body. Pretty wild, huh?

A fab­ulous example of this is the pain of grief, as in the loss of a loved one in death or even sep­ar­a­tion such as divorce, a break­up, or sep­ar­a­tion. People report feel­ings of naus­ea and pain in the stom­ach, as well as heart pal­pit­a­tions, pan­ic attacks, changes in body tem­per­at­ure, weight loss or gain… and the list goes on. The emo­tion­al and men­tal toll of grief actu­ally wears on our body.

Obviously man­aging grief emo­tion­ally and men­tally in this instance is a high pri­or­ity. However, ignor­ing phys­ic­al pain in this instance is not actu­ally what we want to achieve, we actu­ally want to pay atten­tion to this pain in the body.

What? Why? Isn’t this pain just in our head?

Seems coun­ter­pro­duct­ive doesn’t it!

In this instance, our body is actu­ally want­ing an acknow­ledge­ment. Our body is car­ry­ing us around, and deal­ing with and exper­i­en­cing the stresses we have on a daily basis. While our mind is busy wor­ry­ing or stress­ing about our day, our body is find­ing ways for us to get through it. Shunting energy to dif­fer­ent loc­a­tions, increas­ing our appet­ite, burn­ing through stress hor­mones, and some­times it is actu­ally cry­ing out in oppos­i­tion to the con­tinu­al demands.

Here are a few chron­ic con­di­tions that are con­sist­ently related to dis­har­mony in emo­tions and body sen­sa­tions:

  • Skin con­di­tions
  • Irritable bowel syn­drome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Vaginismus
  • Menstrual cramp­ing
  • Low libido or sexu­al dys­func­tion
  • Low back pain or a slipped lumbar disk
  • Chronic head­aches and mus­cu­lar pain

Nourishment of the body in gen­er­al is very import­ant, regard­less of how the body is mani­fest­ing its pain. We can start to nour­ish the body when the mind is under trauma or stress in some very simple ways:

  1. Eat: Eat good qual­ity foods with high pro­tein, low sug­ar (carbs), good veget­ables, good fats. Eating at reg­u­lar inter­vals (every 4 hours at the most, with pro­tein-based snacks like nuts, seeds, or beans) is very sta­bil­iz­ing to blood sug­ar. The body likes to know when it will have an energy source. This is import­ant so it can be strong to bear the bur­den of your emo­tion­al and men­tal stress.
  2. Hydrate: Getting 8 glasses of water may not be enough if you are sweat­ing about a prob­lem (lit­er­ally and fig­ur­at­ively) — you might need to drink more water to accom­mod­ate. However, bal­ance is import­ant with min­er­al­iz­a­tion, and hav­ing some min­er­al water will be a good way to be sure you are also get­ting mag­nesi­um, sodi­um, and potassi­um.
  3. Stress hor­mone sup­port. Calming your stress hor­mones down is import­ant. They feed­back to your brain to tell it that they can help. Herbal medi­cines are very effect­ive in calm­ing stress hor­mones down, such as ash­wagandha, rho­diola, holy basil, licorice, and the gin­seng fam­ily and all have their strengths depend­ing on your body and body chem­istry.
  4. Anti-inflam­mat­ory sup­ports: When our bod­ies are under stress, inflam­ma­tion occurs due to the fact that the body brings atten­tion to the areas that need extra cir­cu­la­tion or immune sup­port. Over time, this inflam­ma­tion con­trib­utes to swell­ing, pain, and an inab­il­ity to heal. Fish oils (omega-3 sup­ports), curcumin, quer­cet­in, and boswell­ia are a few examples of sup­ports that help to reduce inflam­ma­tion.
  5. Gentle move­ment and exer­cise: Yoga, swim­ming, bik­ing, and walk­ing are all ways that cir­cu­la­tion is improved, which also moves lact­ic acid and pro­motes stress relief.

My next post will address how to sup­port how to calm your mind so that your body is per­mit­ted to relax.

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