Have you ever found yourself so miserable or stressed out at work that you end up getting sick?
There's actually a word for that. Psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology is a field of medicine that deals with the physiological manifestation of psychological stress. In other words, how stress can really mess up your body. It's hard to distill an entire field of medicine (not to mention a 13-syllable word) into a single sentence, but that's it in a nutshell.
Maybe you weren't familiar with the word psychoneuroimmunoendocrinology before today (and I swear that's the last time I'll make you read it), but I'd be willing to bet that based only on your personal experience, you know a thing or two about the link between stress and health.
Am I right?
Maybe you battle debilitating exhaustion when you think about making major life changes.
Maybe your eczema flares up when you think about applying to grad school.
Maybe you get strep throat like clockwork every time the busy season rolls around and you're overloaded with too much work. Again.
Maybe your digestive system goes haywire when you think about keeping up with the Jonses at your office.
Maybe, like me, your back goes out every time you push yourself to the limit.
Complete the following sentence: I always get sick or injured when I ________.
Dude, I hear you.
Don't you think it's possible that your body is trying to tell you something? Perhaps it's time you examined the link between your mental and physical health.
Obviously (but I'm going to go ahead and say it anyway), you should see a doctor for any health related concerns. Please do that. I don't want an angry letter from some dude who thinks I'm suggesting that some deep introspection will heal a bleeding head wound.
(Please, sir, stop reading this and dial 911. Thank you. And may you have a speedy recovery.)
But seriously, think of all of the crap that is going on with your physical health, especially any recurring issues. Only you and your doctor can determine what might be causing these symptoms. But if you have an unresolved chronic issue, or recurring health issues, or multiple health issues, it's possible that some of that is rooted in some neglected stress. Don't you think?
Consider what some of your root stressors might be. They may include fear about the future, financial strain, crappy job, uncertainty, perfectionism, fear of judgment, unhappy relationship, people pleasing, overanalyzing, working too much, or any number of things.
What is your body trying to tell you?
Maybe your body knows that you need to quit your job, or start your own business, or move across the country, or leave your relationship, or have a child, or stop trying so hard to be liked, or slow the heck down, or do your MBA, or quit your MBA and go to film school instead.
Whatever personal insight you glean from your body, resist the urge to push it back down.
There's nothing more painful than realizing an uncomfortable truth and then trying to repress it. That genie won't go back in the bottle.
Now, knowing what the problem is and knowing how to fix it are two different things. Figuring out how to fix it will likely take some time. If you know exactly how to make it happen, do it. If not, that's okay.
Baby steps. The important thing is that you listen to your body and do something about it.
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