Guest Blogger: Sharon Sanquist, MSW
My friend Sana asked me to guest post here and I quickly knew what I wanted to write about. Also, I especially love FriendtoYourself.com so, besides being flattered I am happy to contribute.
Self-care and the body connection
Isn’t it funny that when we start to tap into something important, we begin to “see” it everywhere? The grocers, the office, at home or in the gym, there it is again. Seeing this new point of interest in so many places is because we tuned into it. The same thing can happen between our emotions and intellect with our physical selves. We can become connected to our body; listening every minute of the day, always aware and seeing our needs in any circumstance.
What happens to the body when we are stressed? Do we feel pain? When we are anxious, depressed or have other negative emotions, what happens?
Through personal experience, I have become acutely aware of what my body is telling me. For example, when highly stressed, the headaches and body aches become prominent. But what to do about them?
People tell us to relax, meditate, eat right, sleep well and get exercise. We all know these are things are good, but do we practice them? And what are the specifics? Which ones for headaches? What about sleep? We need strategies to coördinate our mind and body set up before the stressors hit. We need a sign to make changes. Signs such as pain, anxiety, depressed mood or headaches – these are our tools for listening and connecting to the rest of us. They are not separate in any way from our skin, liver, arms or toes.
My self-care lately includes these signs to make changes – listening and being aware of what affects my body and making changes quicker when needed. Being tuned in emotionally as well as intellectually, we can begin to learn what our body is saying.
Questions for readers:
- What signs have you noticed that connect the physical symptoms to your emotional self?
- How have you made changes in your life once you tuned in to what your body is telling you?
Self-Care Tip – Listen… What are your emotions and your mind saying about the rest of your body? Know your signs to make changes.
Sharon Sanquist, MSW, is a recent graduate from Fordham University at Lincoln Center. She has worked with individuals and groups in a long-term residential rehabilitation facility as well as in a community outpatient mental health agency. Sharon’s mental health therapy interest includes trauma, dissociation, LGBT, and issues surrounding chronic pain. She recently moved to Tampa, Florida and loves the warm weather and sunshine.
- The limits of mindfulness (psychologytoday.com)
- Practicing Compassion (touchedbylife.wordpress.com)
- Taking responsibility of your emotions and health (idreamofeden.wordpress.com)
- Listen to your body (personalbestbodywork.com)
Whether it’s mind or body signals we need to pay attention rather than ignore esp signs that are obviously red flags. In March of 2006 I had a 4 hour episode for 6 nights. The “episodes” included cold sweats, tight chest, inability to catch breath, heartburn, irregular heart beat, intense anxiety and pain upper left arm. I paced, I sat down. I got up, I breathed deeply. IS THERE SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE? On the 7th day Carl drove himself to the hospital. On the 9th day we had that triple bypass. Carl is very lucky for being so stupid. Emotional signals or feeling fluctuations also may be speaking to severity of emotional illness as well. Pay attention.
Thanks for commenting Carl! I’m glad that you finally got help! Sometimes we second guess or minimize what is going on with your body. You are fortunate that you DID finally get help when you did 🙂
thank u God for saving Carl
A great post, Sharon! Your working with people with chronic pain almost makes me wish I lived in Tampa! (It’s just too d*** hot in the summer there!)
Can’t tell you how many times I will ask a question about some particularl word or thing that I had never heard of, only to read the answer in the very next thing I put up, or see it on a billboard somewhere or overhear a conversation discussing it! I too have discovered that once you ask a question, you instinctively and subconsciously look for the answer, and almost always get it!
Sana – I’ve actually read all your posts, but haven’t commented lately, because everything I want to say would take up more room on your blog than the post I would be commenting on! I do tend to run on. . .and on. . . Is that some sort of disabling neurosis?
Add a great big 🙂 to the above comment!
Hi Paula, thanks! It sounds like you are very in tune with listening to the signals and watching what comes up. Chronic pain is hard to live with and casts a hue over every aspect of your life. Looking for ways to connect the body and mind are essential- such as yoga, bio-feedback, meditation, etc…Thanks for commenting!
I don’t think that there is any question that emotions – stress, anxiety, fear, saddness, depression – affect the body, and this is particularly true when one has Fibromyalgia. I have found, especially recently, that the body and the mind play on one another. The emotions cause a flare in the Fibromyalgia pain (and the other physical problems that are a part of the disease) and then the flare creates anxiety about how to deal with it. That anxiety causes disruption in sleep, exercise and even in eating, which further aggrivates the Fibromyalgia symptoms, and soon everything is out of control and depression rears it’s ugly head…which, of course, adds to the…well, you get the idea.
I wish I knew how to deal with this. I’ve had Fibromyalgia for over sixteen years. Just when I think I’ve figured out how to handle it, something else comes up and I’m off again. The problem with this disease is that every day – every hour – brings something new. I told my husband, last night, as I was experiencing yet another discomfort in a almost three-month-long nightmare of them, I ought to keep track of them just out of curiosity. And, maybe that’s a good thought. I have always avoided the journaling thing with Fibromyalgia. It’s too depressing. I thought thinking about it would just make it worse. But maybe, if I actually kept track of everything each day, I’d get a better idea of how to work with it. I have no doubt what the problem has been these last couple of months. I see the big picture. Maybe I need to hone in on the smaller one.
Hi Nancy! Thanks for commenting 🙂 Those mystifying new aches and pains take a toll don’t they? Journaling is a great way to make the connections between the body (aches & pain) and what is going on around you. You can also ask your partner/spouse to help with making some of these connections. I’ve heard many times when a partner/spouse has made a connection to what’s going on in your life and you get that aha moment.
Thank you, Sharon.
When I am stressed out I get back aches, right between the shoulder blades on the right side. I take a lot of ibuprofen to ease the pain, and it can take from a couple of days to more than a week for the pain to go away. I’ve tried stretching exercises, relaxation tapes, etc. It seems to have a mind of it own.
Hi livingvictoriosly (love your name!) Yes, this is a common area where many people hold their stress. I’m not a doctor, but from personal experience, heat works well and maybe you can practice self care by getting a massage 🙂 This works wonders!!
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