Understanding and applying stress management techniques: the remarkable connection between mind and body
Stress management is a hard task in today’s busy world, but the best starting point is to listen to your body as well as your mind.
Ever experienced a phantom pain that comes and goes? Or perhaps you mysteriously gain weight, just before a family get-together at Christmas, despite all your hard work at the gym that year. Maybe you always come down with a horrible cold every time you finish a major work project and are just about to start your holiday.
In the medical community, the mind/body connection is a hot topic of exploration, and frequently leads practitioners who are more physically and end-symptom oriented, to also consider that the root cause of a problem they’re treating may in fact be psychological stress.
Technically, these symptoms are called ‘psychosomatic’
Another technical term we use is ‘somatisation’, which is used to describe the process of psychological stress being converted into a physical symptom. Examples of common symptoms include: exhaustion, headaches, shoulder and neck pain, back pain, insomnia, stomach upsets, numbness, impotence, weight loss and gain, cough, double vision and painful menstruation – to name a few.
Painkillers may offer temporary relief and a course of treatment with a chiropractor or physiotherapist may offer temporary corrections, however, resolving the issue for life may not be possible through these methods. Stress management therapy is very often the best way forward.
Are certain people more susceptible to psychosomatic symptoms?
While every individual case needs to be treated as unique, we can say there are some commonalities between people who experience these symptoms.
From our experience, we’ve found people who persevere through stress and are high achievers in life, can experience such symptoms. Also, people who have high expectations of themselves, or who have unrelenting standards are also susceptible. People who trained themselves to feel numb to get through their childhood are very susceptible. Then there’s an entire category of people who are considered ‘emotionally avoidant’, who perhaps don’t have a strong relationship with how they themselves feel, or perhaps they escape into their mind or intellect and don’t have much of a relationship with their body. Then there are children who are trained to think of everyone else before themselves, who typically grow up to perpetually ‘over-function’ in adult relationships at the expense of their own psychological and physical wellbeing.
If you don’t hear the alarm bells ringing, your body will speak up
As an example to illustrate what’s happening here, imagine a deaf person who works in an isolated basement of a large corporation. In the event of a fire, they won’t hear the alarm bells ringing, and so, their physical body will be in danger. In a similar way, if we aren’t paying attention to our psychological health, if we refuse to make changes to situations or relationships where we frequently find ourselves upset, angry, resentful, miserable etc, then our body is in danger.
If you can hear the alarm bells ringing, observe and act on the stress that’s generated by your life, then your physical body needn’t be impacted. And if you refuse to deal with the stresses of life, your body is likely to speak to you through pain or through poor functioning. Often, your body is communicating a deep need within, to apply stress management in your career or relationships, as a better life is possible for you.
Reformulating symptoms from a psychological point of view
At the clinic, we’ve worked with many individuals, to help them map out all the possible parts of their lives that are generating recurring stress. We work with them to identify physical symptoms and discover how connections have been formed over long durations between the stresses of their daily existence and what’s going on inside their bodies. Often, mindful awareness and a deep understanding of these connections are enough to cause a release and allow for healing. However, achieving the level of awareness required isn’t an overnight job, and requires regular therapy to achieve lasting results.
Solve symptoms once and for all, by forming new relationships in your internal world
Many of our clients with psychosomatic symptoms have seen and consulted various medical experts in the past. They might have tried healing workshops and retreats, or consulted new age practitioners who will take on mysterious cases that baffle the medical community. However, these clients often quickly reach the limits of short-term solutions or remedies that only take end-symptoms into account.
When people work with one of our trained psychologists, some of whom also have medical experience, they then find themselves on a solid path that leads straight to better stress management techniques and lifelong recovery. We can help you see the habitual patterns and relational dynamics that have created life for you so far, and help you build new relationships in your internal world that will turn the proverbial ship of your life around. As it often takes a fair bit of time to turn a large ship, we support you on a journey that requires patience and when you achieve incremental daily wins over a long period of time, you’ll be able to create an internal world that generates a brighter future.
We’ve helped countless individuals resolve their psychosomatic symptoms once and for all. If you would like to discuss how we can help with your stress management, then please do contact us for a confidential chat.