Every summer, like clockwork, the skin on my right-hand starts to peel. Not the ‘I’m going to rejuvenate into shiny, new skin’ type of peel, more like ‘I’m going to shed and look awkward.’ I might be oversharing, but it was the first clue from my body that my stress level was out of control. My dermatologist later identified the condition as a form of eczema, which started during one of the most stressful periods of my life; my divorce.
Your Body Doesn’t Lie; Listen
Stress. It’s both an internal and external monster. Not only can it wreak havoc on your thought patterns, happiness levels, and sleep, it can also translate externally. When it shows up as a problem in or on your body, I call it a wake-up call. Most of us think of a few sleepless nights, subpar levels of happiness, and constant mental chatter as ‘normal’ adult stress in our high-paced society. We can ignore these signals easily, so it’s up to our bodies to create bolder statements.
Let’s talk about hair loss, digestive issues, skin conditions, scalp dryness, heart palpitations, aches and pains, cavities, and the list goes on and on.
Listen to Your Body; Is it Screaming – WAKE UP?
If you are experiencing a prolonged period of stress, stop and take a deep breath and then do a body scan. Start with your head and work your way down to your toes. Pay special attention to your skin and mouth.
Like most divorces and life transitions, I went through a process of letting go. My process seemed to drag on since the news of my divorce was a surprise. (Although in reflection, I realize that my intuition was screaming at me for years, but let’s save that for a different post). My head was a mess, but I only started to think, ‘wow, I need to find a way to work on my stress level’ when tooth pain sent me to the dentist.
Other than a few cavities growing up from ‘sugar bugs,’ my dentist visits have always been uneventful, which of course interprets to a healthy mouth. A toothache started to alarm me early in the process of my divorce. At the time, I did not have dental insurance, so booking a dentist appointment was scary. “I think we found the problem and have solved it with a filling,” the dentist shared. After what seemed like hours of drilling, I was pain-free, or at least the novocaine said so. I went on with my routines and drove right back onto my highway of stress.
The Body Doesn’t Lie
Flash forward a month, and I was still in pain. Not trusting the last dentist’s handy work, I invested in a visit to my dad’s trusted dentist, which turned into the story of my first root canal. My wake-up call. I started to journal about the process and traced the original toothache to a period right before my ex asked for a divorce. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
After the root canal, I started to scan my body. I was experiencing hair loss, a loss of appetite (which is totally unlike me because I love food), acne, migraines, and more. My body was screaming at me. Shortly after, I started yoga, poured my heart into my journals, and slowly stepping back into life. The stress became a bit more manageable as each day passed.
Stress translates in different ways for each of us, and it can happen at any time. It doesn’t take a divorce for things to show up. A stressful day at the office or not speaking your truth can spark a reaction. The next time you are facing an affliction, take a moment and reflect on your stress level. What can you do to lower your stress? How can you walk through your pain vs. avoiding it? What is your body trying to tell you?
Be aware of let-down afflictions. After wrapping up an extremely stressful work event, a six-day migraine sent me to urgent care for my first ever IV. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “I just wrapped up that project; why am I getting this migraine now”? Often after a stressful period ends, your body may release in a way that causes more pain. Mine came in the form of a migraine. Has this ever happened to you?
The bottom line. Your body doesn’t lie; listen to it. Have you ever heard the phrase ‘gut-feeling?’ It exists because when you are in danger, or something is off, your body will talk. When you ignore it, your body will scream. What is your body trying to tell you right now? What can you do to relax? It could be as simple as acknowledging the connection or as complicated as digging more profound than the first answer that comes to mind. Listen to your body.