Do The Emotional Math: The Impact of Stress on the Body

Think about the stress of everyday life in our society at the moment. It’s not that hard. The impact of stress touches who we are as individuals, spouses, parents, friends, children, leaders, guides, and practitioners. The impact of stress invades our thoughts, our minds, our actions, and our behaviors, and left uncared for, it will begin to manifest into physical discomfort and pain with real physical symptoms.

Do the emotional math: anxiety, stress, and fear uncared for, will manifest physically, impact judgment, increase worry, increase fearful thoughts, and further decrease homeostatic balance across all levels of the body.

Emotional Math: Stress + fear + judgment + worry = More Stress/Pain/Suffering

Practitioners of mental health and wellness take no less oath in ‘doing no harm’ in working with clients, than do nurses or doctors. At this time of tender suffering in our community and society, what would happen if mental health practitioners abandoned clients out of fear? What would happen if doctors or nurses decided to stop their work as advocates and instruments of healing? It is no different, EXCEPT, if mental health practitioners stopped offering care and support, then the toll to the community and to clients (who may already be working through anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction or grief), will further impact the stretched resources providing emergency care.

In this example, the emotional math and toll on the client may further result in panic attacks, digestive and metabolic issues, and increases in corticotropin-release stress hormones. The impact on the body shifts more and more into a negative feedback loop because the corticotropin-release hormones impact immune function, the lungs, the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, metabolic system, and endocrine and pituitary function thereby impacting hormones like insulin. This very real cascade is part of a system called the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, and when it gets imbalanced, it has a very real impact on the brain, particularly the ability to make decisions (pre-frontal cortex), the ability to remember and access memories (hippocampus), and it further floods the amygdala, activating survival mode and increasing anxiety.

Now consider this entire cascading effect of stress on the body in clients with mental health diagnoses, an increase of emotional stress without the help of practitioners, clinicians, and therapists may very well do harm to the client. They may end up in urgent care facilities or the emergency room thinking they are having respiratory dysfunction. A break and change in the level of care of clients can have a direct impact on the urgent, very stretched resources of hospital staff.

Do your own emotional math, and notice the impact of stress on your body, then, take action in a way that allows you to find stability. When you access this empowerment and mindful awareness, your body can naturally be more at ease while finding grounding, calmness, and strength in the moment….this is self-care.

Self-care is essential in maintaining clarity, balance, and function. In this state of current affairs, caring for your self (Body, Mind, Spirit) should be done every day in a way that connects and ushers in soma to each of these layers of self.