man on office desk with head down / burdened with emotions

Every illness—from common cold to cancer—is linked to your emotions. Hence, true healing is possible only when the treatment also targets the underlying emotions and shifts you into a balanced state of being.

The one common reason why we are all stressed

Let’s begin by asking, “Why are you stressed?” Some of you may point to hectic work pressure; some may cite family trouble or marital problems; yet others are stressed because of the struggle between fulfilling one’s needs and controlling one’s wants. But these are all external circumstances. The underlying emotion and root cause of stress is always fear—fear of losing control over a situation or of losing out on something; fear of failing to live according to our belief systems or being unable to live up to people’s expectations.

Get a grip on the situation

To eliminate stress, you must face your fears. Start by asking yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?” Go ahead and imagine the worst. Don’t be surprised if you realise that it isn’t so bad after all and, in fact, it is something you can easily deal with. When dealing with stress and its repercussions, it’s important to peel away our layers like that of an onion. Remember that only you and your reactions are in your control, so start accepting yourself and be honest with yourself. Changing yourself and your perceptions is the key to managing stress.

When dealing with stress and its repercussions, it’s important to peel away our layers like that of an onion

Three common symptoms of stress and the underlying emotions causing them

1. Frequent colds

If you are prone to catching colds, you need to look at your day[s] or life space. You will realise that you have been trying to [physically] be in too many places at the same time or [mentally] resolve multiple situations on your own. Cold is a sign of trying to do too much too soon. All you need to do is breathe, pause and prioritise, allowing some things to unfold in time.

Why are you in such a hurry to get things done? If things spill over to the next day, will your world end? The answer is an emphatic ‘No’! Then why run? Allow yourself to slow down every now and then. Create a to-do list based on priority and not just on your [or somebody else’s] expectations. When helping other people, remember to place your wellbeing first. If your body and health cannot support you, it’s of no help to you or to the people involved. Next, ask yourself if you are taking on more than you can handle. If others are allowed to ask you for help, why can’t you do the same? Give yourself the permission to reach out to people and also to say “no” if and when required.

Remember that one of the things we subconsciously do when stressed is hold our breath. So make it a point to inhale and exhale consciously when you feel stressed.

When helping other people, remember to place your wellbeing first

2. Constant headaches

Do you suffer from chronic migraines? Does your head hurt every afternoon or towards the end of the day? To help yourself on a physical level, don’t have more than two cups of regular tea, green tea or coffee in a day. Ensure that you drink two to three litres of water and eat your meals on time. Also, make sure you aren’t drinking colas and aerated drinks every day.

Emotionally, headaches are a sign of self-criticism. How do you treat yourself when faced with stressful circumstances? How do you address or speak to yourself when placed in high-pressure situations? Being harsh on yourself or constantly judging or putting yourself down can cause severe headaches. The quest for perfectionism may be exhausting your body and mind. Avoid defeatist thoughts and words such as “I’m not capable” or “I’m not good enough”. When you tell yourself that you are incapable of doing something, is it because you genuinely don’t have the skill set or are you afraid of being judged by others?

It’s time to stop criticising yourself. Instead, approve of yourself, your thoughts and your actions. It’s time to stop being the cause of the stress you are facing.

The quest for perfectionism may be exhausting your body and mind

3. Upset stomach

The stomach is responsible for the absorption and digestion of food. A weak stomach, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome or chronic gastric trouble signals an inability to digest life. Fear is the core emotion that leads to stomach trouble.

What is going on in your life—be it on the personal front, at work, with a group of people or with an individual—that is so difficult for you to accept or handle? Be aware that an unhealthy tummy could be causing those headaches too. Hence you may not be facing a case of self-criticism, but one of being unable to adapt to change or fearing a situation or event.

It is important to introspect and isolate your fears. Ask yourself if your reaction to the said situation or people involved is a force of habit or a reflex. Is it a pattern that is repeating or a case of conflict with your conditioning and beliefs? Often, you can avoid throwing your health off kilter by being open to and accepting different perspectives. Yes, there will be times when the solution to a problem may not be as expected or desired. But it is important to face the changing reality with confidence and have faith in self.

Stress manifests itself in many other ways but physical discomfort and pain is your body’s way of speaking to you. Acknowledge the problem and while seeking medical help, find the underlying negative emotions that need to be eliminated. Know that your fear is an important defence mechanism only as long as you don’t allow it to take charge of your life, dictating every move and every choice you make.

This was first published in the January 2016 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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