How you living? I watched a very powerful inspirational video recently by minister & motivational speaker Dr Rick Rigsby that highlighted the importance of asking ourselves this important question early & often.
Life is busy & sometimes we live our day to day routine attending to the commitments of family, friends, school, work, community, etc. on autopilot. We navigate through the daily, weekly, monthly journey of life, but often times we are going through the motions not really knowing or understanding what the impact is on our life as a whole. How often do we check in with ourselves & assess how we are doing – truly doing?
Personally, professionally, mentally, physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually…where are you at in your life? How are you living? What do you think about your life? How do you feel about it? Are you largely happy or unhappy? Fulfilled or unfulfilled? Stressed or overwhelmed? Healthy or unhealthy?
There are many different aspects of our lives that make up our whole self & often times one or more of those individual components are not as great as we would like them to be. We don’t always realize the negative impact a lack of health & happiness in one or two areas of our life is having on our life as a whole.
So what can we do to cultivate greater understanding & awareness for the quality vs quantify of our lives? One answer is to pay closer attention to our physical well being as our bodies are a strong indicator of overall life wellness. Our bodies can provide a lot of information about the many different aspects of our life & health if we take the time to pay attention. Headaches, stomachaches, skin problems, high blood pressure, back pain can all be indicators that chronic unmanaged stress or fear or hurt or anger about something is negatively affecting the quality of our life.
A recent article by MindBodyGreen states “80% of visits to primary care physicians are due to symptoms ultimately caused by stress or emotional problems”. In the counseling profession that is known as a psychosomatic disorder which is physical ailments that are caused by emotional or psychological factors vs a medical illness.
It is the mind-body connection. There is an actual physiological process that our bodies go through when we are overwhelmed, stressed, or experiencing difficult emotions. When we are fearful, angry, sad or chronically worried our brain’s limbic system – which supports a variety of functions such as emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory – gets activated & sends out chemicals like adrenaline & cortisol that suppress our immune system & make us vulnerable to illness & infection. During those times our bodies are susceptible to increased inflammation, autoimmune & stomach problems, irritable bowel issues, colds & flu, higher blood pressure, sore muscles & irritable behavior.
So if you check in with yourself & notice that you haven’t been feeling particularly well & those symptoms are not otherwise accountable by a medical diagnosis, then there is a good chance that chronic stress or challenging thoughts & emotions are the cause.
The good news is there is something we can do something about it! The first step is to become aware so check in with yourself early & often to know how you are truly living & feeling. Next, take a few deep breaths & try to really understand what is going on – what are you thinking or feeling & how are you behaving? Are you having a hard time focusing or thinking about things but don’t know how to say them? Are you feeling a particular way about something but not letting others know how you feel? Ask yourself what is important to you in your life & what you would like to do to achieve your hopes & dreams.
Seek to understand what your body is trying to tell you & figure out what you would like to do about it. The only thing we have control over in life is ourselves as individuals so if we want to be happy & fulfilled then we must take personal responsibility for making that happen & work to change the direction of our lives if need be.
If you realize there are things in your life that are overwhelming or unsatisfying & don’t know how to solve those problems, then consultation with a counseling professional may be a great step in the right direction to help you make the changes that will bring you closer to the life you truly desire.
Peace & good health to all.