It's a pressure like something is sitting on my chest. It weighs me down so heavily that it's exhausting to simply get up out of of chair. It creeps onto my shoulders, tightening the muscles in my neck until there's a constant ache that I repeatedly try to massage out but it's untouchable. I walk around, seemingly functioning normally in my day to day but silently carrying the invisible weight around and trying to distract myself from the pain.
This happens to me when I'm experiencing a high level of stress or ignoring my emotions. I might think I'm doing great handling something (or not handling something) but my mind and my body will quickly put me in my place and correct me. The more I try to convince myself that I am okay the more the pressure increases and the more my upper body tenses.
You would think that even being aware of this would be enough to teach me to listen to my emotions, but I'm human. I get busy, life gets hectic and my self care is usually the first to take a hit. I'm a nurturer by nature - drawn to want to care for others and a lot the time, at the expense of my own care. But I am getting better at reading the cues before it gets too bad and remind myself that I am a priority. I cannot pour from an empty cup and that no matter what might be happening, it's okay and needed for me to take some time to take care of me.
We're taught so many things in life - how to read a map, how to do our taxes, how to cook a meal -- but we are rarely taught self awareness and how to listen to our bodies. If you pay attention, your body talks to you every day. It tells you the good, the bad and the ugly. It tells you whnt it needs, what it doesn't want and it will even react if you don't do what is required. But a lot of us do not know how to see, hear or feel the signs.
When is the last time you checked in with yourself? Take a few moments to be aware and present for your body. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and start listening to your body. Start at your head and work your way down your body in your mind. Pay attention to how your muscles and joints feel and how your gut feels. It might be hard to read anything the first time you do this, but try to make it habit moving forward - check in with your body on a regular basis!
Are you aware of how your body reacts to stress and emotional unrest? Do you experience the same symptoms over and over? Let me know!