Sometimes I feel like a fraud when I write these blogs. Who am I to give advice on lowering stress and taking time for yourself when there are far too many times when I don’t even follow my own advice? This last week was one of those times…
My back, always the best indicator of my stress level, went into a mega muscle spasm that lasted for ten days. Yup, ten days of basically feeling like there was a giant Charlie horse in my back. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I was with my daughter who just happened to be having back surgery (like daughter, like mother, eh?). Because of her history of back spasms she had some muscle relaxers that helped a lot and a wonderful chiropractor who worked diligently on my back every other day. And slowly but surely the muscle spasm released.
But here’s the real issue and why I feel like a fraud…why did it get so bad in the first place? The bottom line answer, that I don’t like too much, is I didn’t pay attention to the signals my body was giving me. Instead of dealing with the stressors in my life I just put my head down and tried to barrel through them. Instead of barreling through I hit a brick wall that jammed my back up and all the energy my body has flowing through it.
Cherilynn Veland, LCSW, MSW, wrote in a recent blog that our bodies send us constant signals about how we are feeling emotionally about a situation, a request or a person. For example, if you get a strange feeling when someone asks you for a favor, you know your body is saying NO. Whenever your body reacts in a unusual way, you can be sure a stressor has popped up.
The trick is to pay attention to it. My body was giving me loud and clear signals as I felt my upper back get tighter and tighter and then move to rib cage to STOP. But I had too much on my plate (a topic for another day) to pay attention to something like a tight back.
How does your body signal there is something going on that you should be paying attention to? Does your stomach clench? Does your pulse rate increase? Does your back begin to ache? Do your neck and shoulders feel tight?
Veland suggests that we begin to pay attention to the sensations in our bodies especially when we feel upset or anxious. If you notice a constant connection, like a tight neck or an aching back, then you have a signal that your answer should be NO! Those sensations provide a red flag that tells you to pay attention.
I’m getting back on track and paying very close attention because as I learned the hard way I will be of no use to anyone if I cannot move due to inattention to my own needs.