The Enemy Within – The Silent Epidemic
by Jane Keogh, Dec 14
Symptoms of stress are most likely affecting your health, even though you might not realise it. You probably blame something else for that nagging headache, your reoccurring insomnia and/or your decreased productivity at work. But the reality is that stress is likely the culprit.
Common effects of stress:
Stress affects your thoughts and feelings, your behavior and shows up as pain in the physical body. Being able to recognise common symptoms is the first step to managing them.
Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, and seriously affects quality of life.
Common effects of stress on your body
Muscle tension or pain
Common effects of stress on your mood
Lack of motivation or focus
Irritability or anger
Sadness or depression
Common effects of stress on your behaviour
Overeating or undereating
Drug or alcohol abuse
Exercising less often (no motivation)
Stress is a build up of unhelpful emotions. Emotion is generally speaking, something we tend to shy away from, and the Brits have a reputation of being unemotional and unexpressive. I know that is a huge generalisation, but there is truth in the statement.
Emotion is perceived as weakness. This is largely down to conditioning. My parents used to say things like, 'pull yourself together', and 'we keep things contained and within these four walls'.
Even from a young age, I can remember feeling frustrated that I ‘couldn’t’ or ‘shouldn’t’ express my emotional state. Instinctively I felt the need to let it all out, but was under no illusions that this was not the ‘done’ thing.
What we tend to do is bury our unhelpful emotions and hope that they will stay contained. They don’t. There are triggers in life, that set them off and the buried box of emotions seeps and generates uncomfortable feelings and sensations in and around us. And because the majority of us have no idea how to deal with them, we suppress and push the emotions away. We start to feel more and more out of sorts, often unable to explain what’s going on – we just know that something doesn’t feel right. We may notice that we have a tendency to cry, or lash out, or lack motivation, feel angry at everyone and everything, blame our life for what’s not right, and so you get the picture. It may even resonate with you.
So what’s the solution? The solution is to face these emotions full on. It’s time to open the box and let it all out. Remember the story of Pandora’s Box is a myth but is a great analogy. The thought of unleashing what’s buried deeply, layer upon layer of compounded emotion is much worse than the actuality.
Holding on to these emotions is like having an anchor and chain around your neck holding you prisoner. It’s a fact, we hate feeling overwhelmed so much that we avoid feeling at all costs. As a consequence we trap emotions and the sensation of discomfort manifests itself through emotional overwhelm and physical pain. These emotions (often undetected or unidentified) create blocks and obstacles and are known to make us ill.
There are simple techniques and methods to identify and get rid of unhelpful baggage. By doing this you will allow the mind to expand, stimulate creativity, melt away tension and become more present which will create easier relationships with self and others.
Learning to identify and feel emotional baggage is an essential life skill and vitally important for your mental and physical well-being. It will also make you emotional competent which will build real emotional resilience.