Pain, Sleep Issues, Emotional Reactivity: Your Body is Screaming, You Aren’t Listening


Who listens…REALLY listens to their body? Babies, that’s who. As we grow up, we’re told to be quiet, be good, don’t complain, suck it up, don’t cry – even if we are in physical, emotional or mental pain. Yet, we are still in constant communication with this amazing biochemical vessel that connects us to our world. Our communication system is working…it’s just that we often ignore it when it’s speaking to us. It’s like we’re in a building with the fire alarm going off and we just turn up our music to drown it out. Our senses are doing their work, and the messages they send often come in forms like pain, sleep issues or emotional reactivity.

                                              Young person sits in grass, head down and arms crossed.

If you’re like me, you might be dealing with chronic physical, emotional or mental pain on a fairly regular basis. How do we hear that pain? Do we hear it as a challenge? As something that has to be beaten? The enemy? A threat? Do you ever thank your pain for doing it’s job? I mean, after all, that’s why we have it. If we didn’t experience pain, it wouldn’t be able to warn us of injury or our needs that aren’t being met or what might be dangerous. Here is something that works for me; instead of arguing with the pain, telling it that it shouldn’t exist, or worse, PRETENDING it doesn’t exist, which simply makes it get LOUDER (kind of like the hungry cat) try GRATITUDE. What I do is this…I sit with the pain, and I say either out loud or inwardly, “Thank you, I hear you and I love you.” When I’m ready to release the pain, I say, “Thank you, I hear you and I love you. I don’t need this message anymore.” Every time it helps lessen the pain and often it completely goes AWAY. Why? Because the body is directly connected to the brain and they are always chatting and if you aren’t JOINING that conversation, then you are at the mercy of that pain. Next time…simply say thank you and see what happens. Of course, if it’s acute, see a professional to get help.

Sleep…ah, the ever so important and ever so elusive sleep. Whether you can’t get to sleep, you wake easily or you wake often, or maybe your schedule is so packed you forget to leave enough time for it…the fact of the matter is you need it. Some people can function on very little sleep, or even sleeping in batches – four hours here, four hours there (Thomas Edison did), and other need more. To get to sleep, try this…don’t try. Yep. That’s it. Just don’t try. Here are some suggestions about what to do: No caffeine after noon helps. Focus on a simple task before bed, like folding and putting away laundry or washing dishes. Something with a finite ending that gives you a sense of accomplishment, but not anything too strenuous like vacuuming. Don’t be on your devices (your computer or your lap top) but do something like have a hot bath (with Epsom salts) or a shower, read or meditate or even if you are really struggling, get up and walk around. If it’s nice out, get some fresh air for a few minutes. Whatever you do – resist watching TV or being on your phone or computer! The blue light from ANY screens blocks melatonin, which is the chemical that tells your body to shut down and rest. Unplug and just let your body do its job, which it will do, if you let it. Schedule all your liquid intake to end well before bedtime so your bladder isn’t the culprit waking you up. If you wake early, and feel rested, start your day. Sometimes we fight our natural sleep cycles without knowing it. Your body is actually very smart and will eventually find its rhythm.

What do your emotions have to do with your body? EVERYTHING. They are hardwired right in there. If you’re having emotional issues of reactivity or detachment or even hallucinations, one of the first things you should do is see your doctor to have your hormone, chemical, vitamin and electrolyte levels checked. Your body will ALWAYS send you messages that is it needing your help getting into balance. An imbalance of some kind will be at the heart of your concerns every single time, and sometimes it can only be fixed with medical intervention. Perhaps your body needs you to provide more of things it CRAVES like water, exercise, connection with nature, healthy foods, reflection, alone time, social time, mental activity, supportive environments, organization, positive reinforcement… and the list goes on. Without a steady of diet of those very vital ingredients your reactivity will increase, and you’ll find yourself short-tempered, easily frustrated, feeling like you’re worthless more and more frequently and you’ll feel so much less creativity, contentment, compassion and confidence.

Yes, you can learn to be an active listener when it comes to what your body is telling you. It isn’t a foreign language…you were born knowing what the signals mean and what you need. Just ask anybody with an infant whether those wee ones listen to their bodies. They do! We were all there once – we just have to be reminded how it works every now and then.