Notes to myself: On stress, anxiety and pain. Listen to your body.

There is one obvious way my mind tells me that I’m not in the best mental shape, and I should do something about this state — pain.

I always thought I’m a calm person in any circumstances or at least I fooled myself well enough not to recognise when I’m not. I hid my anger, stress and anxiety, and it always backfired. I didn’t understand that some of the health problems I had were caused by emotions, the internal factors rather than external.

A brain in a fight or flight state can’t heal or learn effectively.

These days I’m better at recognising when things are “off”, and I can bring the feelings right to the open and deal with them, rather than pretend everything is cool and I’m chilled like a coke in a fridge. Hiding means lying, and lying leads to unexpected consequences… We, humans, are good at lying, especially to ourselves.

Health problems and random pain of life

I used to think that some of my health problems were coming from random events like bad weather, I slept funny or maybe I’m just too old? I spent a lot of time in front of a keyboard and went to a gym every day — these two explanations were my favourite to justify any discomfort. Any excuse is good, as long as I could push the blame on something out of my control. But was it really out of my control?

Neck or shoulder pain, occasionally dull pain around wrists or intense pins and needles shooting from my fingers. Sometimes it all happened at the same time with extra lower back pain or weird sensation in my ankle or knee. What if all these warnings come from my brain rather than a sign of problems with muscles or joints? The human’s mind is a powerful device and has ways to steers our lives in unpredictable directions. Random and unjustified pain are among them, but I rarely paid attention and continued with my life, pretending nothing happened. The classic “it came out of nowhere, it will just disappear at some point”… it rarely does.

Our body reflects our mind

Our body reacts to the state of our mind. When I’m under persistent stress, I will get pain all over my body without a clear cause. All I will get from doctors is a suggestion to get some massage or go to a physiotherapist, but they only treat the symptoms, not underlining issues. After many years of fighting with my discomfort, I discovered that most of it disappeared when I took care of my mental health. It all came from the harmful and destructive emotions, and my body was only responding to anger, fear, anxiety and stress.

When your body speaks to you — listen!

Do a mental self-check and try to figure out what is really happening, where all these things are coming from, and what I can do about them. In 99% of cases, I can find what bothers me to deal with it, but it took me a while to learn how to connect with my negative emotions and name them.

Notes to myself

  • Accept things the way they are and go with the flow.
    There are other ways to deal with things you don’t like, and anger never brings the expected results. This leads me to another point…
  • Say “yes”.
    To things that you’re scared of, to novelty, to challenges. That doesn’t mean you will become The Most Agreeable Person In The World, not even close, but knowing when to pick up a fight is a skill.
  • Obstacles are challenges. Nothing is a problem.
    There are no problems in this world — only challenges and questions which always have an answer. No point to stress out…
  • Don’t worry about the future. It will come sooner or later.
    The tendency to overthink “what will happen” can be a silent killer. The future is random, and you can’t predict it. You will always suffer more in your mind than in reality.
  • Don’t overthink past events.
    They’re gone. They’re done. You should learn from your mistakes and move on. Rethinking what happened over and over again brings misery, not relief.
  • Appreciate what you’ve got.
    Enjoy what you have already achieved in your life. Recognise it. Focus on what you gained, not on what you are missing.
  • All the good things are worth waiting for, so wait.
    Whenever you give things a bit more time to sort themselves out, the results will impress you. New car better than ever imagined, a new job more interesting than expected… you name it.
  • If you are stressed, go boxing.
    Find a way to offload the emotions, don’t store them within your body. Find something that is not destructive to your health (extreme gym?) and release the energy.
  • Change the environment.
    Staying in one place narrows your vision. Change the environment, go somewhere, do something different, and you will gain perspective and new insight into life and yourself.

Highly accomplished and results-oriented professional with background in leadership, software engineering, automotive, photography and design.