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What is your body trying to tell you?

Written by Donna Cameron

The world of mental health can be very confusing.  You hear the words anxiety, depression and mania.  You see your friends, colleagues or maybe even yourself, go through times where even getting out of bed is a difficult task.  What does it all mean?  What happens in our bodies before we feel helpless and hopeless?  Is there a way to notice the early signs our body is giving us?  

There are many signs that your body shows you well before before the nasty symptoms kick in.  For most people, these signs are visible even up to 3 years before they have their first anxiety attack or depression episode.

The problem is that we do not know which signs to watch for and we are so busy with our daily life that they are often ignored or missed anyway.

To simplify this extremely important topic, it is important to identify your emotional organ or, as I often refer to it, your stress cup.  This is the area in your body that holds all the emotions of every event that occurs in your life - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Think of this emotional organ as being the same as your heart, lungs, or kidneys. It has a role to play and when you don’t look after it and give it the attention it requires, it overflows and this can cause its owner emotional pain.

Have you ever wondered why and how some people, can go through so much stress and trauma in their lives, and yet somehow come out the other side relatively unscathed?  Others can have a build-up of the smaller things pushing them over the edge?  Most of the time this is all related to if and when people identify these early symptoms and signs, and what they do to release their stress.

Your body has been designed to adapt to many stressors that occur in your life.  Think back to your childhood.  There was so much your body had to go through, physically, and emotionally, to be the adult you are today. These were not the ‘easy years’ by any means, and not many of us would put our hand up again to experience growing pains, hierarchy battles and schoolwork! The difference was back then, we took the time out for self-care without even realising we were doing it.

Running around with our friends or playing a sport was a physical activity that tipped out the stress of the day. Listening to your favourite music or watching a TV show without any other distractions was the much needed down time, or battery charging time, for your system. Most importantly, having a tantrum when something was not going your way, or crying when sad, was very much an important part of releasing emotions.

As we get older, the number of hours available for self-care reduces and often it comes to a grinding halt. There is that busy work schedule, relationships, and children to look after, and there just isn’t that time for you anymore.

When this occurs, the body will give you early symptoms to let you know that you’re going down a slippery slope, but because you are so busy, its easy to ignore these little taps on the shoulder. By allowing a tiny amount of time to catch these early symptoms, you can stop much emotional pain in the future. Paying attention to these early signs can help prevent anxiety and depression.  

What are the signs? (Tears Tantrums and Memory Loss)

The first sign to look out for is your own emotions exploding when you least expect it. This  will firstly come through in anger or in tears. Examples are tears coming out of the blue when you’re driving home, or anger at your loved ones when they leave that cup on the coffee table.

The second sign is your brain turning to mush.  You feel as though you can’t concentrate, have problems remembering, have little attention span and lack the ability to solve problems. You may find it difficult to access simple information and you need to write lists for the smallest tasks

Ignoring these early signs just means the body must bring out the big guns and it does this by activating anxiety, panic and depression symptoms.  This stage is your body trying to protect you, your call to action if you like. It has identified that your emotional hub or stress cup is filling up, so it pulls on the brakes.  There is no more room for any other stressors to enter so it does its best to prevent you from going out in the world.  If you do not go out, you will not be at risk of any stressors, such as traffic jams or difficult customers at work.

Unfortunately, experiencing panic attacks and hearing negative thoughts is a very scary event to go through and it is completely normal for you to start thinking there is something else wrong with you.  Sometimes there might be, but most of the time, and with the clients I have seen over the years, it is just your body telling you that it needs some care. 

What can you do? (Tears Tantrums and Memory Loss)

If everyone practiced a little more selfcare in the ways of physical and emotional release, and time out for themselves, their mental state would be happier and healthier.  

So next time you feel a little bit more frustrated than you usually would, or the tears are flowing  more frequently, take the time to stop and consider,  “what have I been doing for my mental health self-care?”. Catching these early symptoms will make all the difference to your mental health.

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