Body: How it affects Mental Health

Our bodies are the container for our organs, systems, brain, emotions and souls. If our bodies aren’t in working order, it can’t take care of things properly. For example, stomach ulcers can be painful, but it doesn’t just effect our stomachs. If we experience pain after a meal, are we going to eat properly? No, of course not. So we don’t eat as we should, causing weight loss. With weight loss, we’d also start experiencing loss of energy and tiredness. We then get a bit depressed, not wanting to socialize as much and sleeping more. You also may have increased heartburn, which can cause damage to your esophagus. It’s a trickle down effect. What started out as a treatable stomach ulcer, has now caused more problems that will each need to be treated separately. If we don’t take care of our containers, how then can our systems work properly for us?

In reality, the stomach ulcer was probably caused by something else all together; stress. If we had treated the stress first, the ulcer could have been avoided, as well as the secondary symptoms that followed. We have enormous control over our bodies. For example, our hearts work entirely on their own, we don’t need to do anything to get it to beat. However, we can effect our heartbeats with visualization techniques, making it beat slower. We also don’t need to do much to make our lungs work, but with meditation, can breathe deeper. Emotions can also be controlled. We can chose which emotions we want to focus on. Although emotions are automatic, how we chose to focus on them is what matters. If a person, place or thing, sends us into a tailspin of anger or sadness, we can chose to deal with it or avoid it. It’s important for us to listen to what our bodies are telling us, then doing what is necessary to fix them.

As a Doula (woman who assists during childbirth), I learned how stress effects our bodies during childbirth. When we are stressed, our bodies tense up. If we are tense, the pain is worse and we don’t breathe properly. If we aren’t breathing properly, we are tense. When we tense, we experience more pain. It’s a vicious cycle that all starts with stress. The same formula can be used in our daily lives. Emotion=stress=pain. If we choose which emotions to let in our lives, we can then choose how we let them effect us physically. It’s all a matter of balance.

As military families, we have tons of stressors. It’s managing that stress that is the key. There are many things we stress about; are our deployed loved ones safe? Are our children acting out because dad is gone? Who do I take the broken down car to? There are SO many things that are added to our list when they are deployed, it’s hard not to freak out. But, we can choose to lighten our load. We can’t do much about the big stuff, cars breaking down, worrying about their safety. But if we organize the small stuff, it lightens the load. Start cataloging what it is you are stressing over, write everything down. Then, on a separate piece of paper, make two columns, things I can fix and things I can’t. Is your neighbor Sally starting unnecessary drama? Then why are you friends? Is dinner a battle everyday because you have no time? Try a “cooking Sunday”, where you cook all the meats necessary for every meal for the week. Is Johnny acting up? Get one of your husbands friends to come visit once a week for some quality time. Start getting rid of the stress you CAN control.

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