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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