What your body tells you about your state of mind.

During this Mental Health month, you are invited to do something radical for yourself – that is to listen to your body and the message that it is trying to convey to you about your mental health.

By: Hasmita Hardudh-Dass

Over the centuries the focus on the physical body continues to dominate the commercial and consumer industry, focusing on how to get the perfect body or how to use the body to sell a product, thus capitalising on people’s physical insecurities.

Because of this, our preoccupation with our body image is often superficial and it’s therefore not surprising that one misses the deeper messages that our body — more specifically body pains — conveys to us about what’s happening in the mind (psyche).

In my experience as a clinical psychologist I have found strong practical evidence to suggest that the mind and body are intimately entwined and connected. The body often gives us the first indication of what is happening in our minds.

For example, congested sinuses may indicate inner child issues.

Shoulder and neck pain may be indication of financial stress and burdens of others.

Migraines may indicate a preoccupation with thinking and lack of trust in others and our environment.

Chest pain – anxiety centered on fear of the unknown, death (one’s own or of those closest to us) or on our lack of control over a situation.

Stomach cramps may be anger towards parental figures and so forth (my clinical observations).

These symptoms manifest in small or big individualised ways and over prolonged periods, depending on the severity of the emotional stress and distress that we may be experiencing.

However, because we are so busy surviving life, we often ignore these bodily pains and continue as normal or intensify our efforts in the hope that the body will take care of itself.

We resort to quick fixes or unhealthy mechanisms to settle bodily signals without taking time to be curious about what our body is trying to tell us.

If the emotional stress or distress continues unabated the sign or symptom in the body intensifies…persistent headaches, several bouts of colds and flues, in the same year, and difficulty walking or facial numbness, etc.

If we took a moment to pay closer attention to what our body is telling us we may come to realise much sooner that we are indeed suffering not only physically but emotionally as well.

During this Mental Health month, you are invited to do something radical for yourself – that is to listen to your body and the message that it is trying to convey to you about your mental health.

Depression itself physically affects the body – we may eat too much or too little, our sleep may be disturbed thus leading to exhaustion.

These bodily affects then lead to cognitive decline, like memory, concentration or attention difficulties and we may suffer negative thinking and feelings — such as having suicidal thoughts or feeling worthless or inadequate.

Take a moment, give yourself permission to be self-caring and self-nurturing…listen to your body to understand your mind and trust in your authentic experience of this to introduce you to mindfulness or awareness of your mental health.

learning how to stop all your doing and shift over to a ‘being’ mode, learning how to make time for yourself, how to slow down and nurture calmness and self-acceptance in yourself, learning to observe what your mind is up to from moment to moment…perceiving the interconnectedness of things, these are the lessons of mindfulness” (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

Hasmita Hardudh-Dass is a Clinical Psychologist in Independent Practice.

Disclaimer:
The information shared is from my clinical observations and only offers you a surface idea of how the mind and body may be connected.  Each person is unique, and as such, your bodily signs and symptoms will be unique to you.

To seek professional help contact SADAG (The South African Group and Anxiety) on: 0800 567 567

24hr Helpline: 0800 12 13 14
SMS 31393 (and they will call you back)

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