There’s no denying that the past year has been incredibly challenging and filled with losses for almost everyone across the globe. Unfortunately, the end to the pandemic is not yet in sight, and we need to find healthy ways to cope with the distress we feel for as long as we have to live with the virus.
Not many people know that our emotional pain can manifest itself in physical pain, and we might not even recognize the connection between the two. This is a phenomenon called psychosomatic pain, and here is everything you need to know about it in case you’re suffering from it and want to be able to deal with it while the pandemic rages on.
What is psychosomatic pain?
Psychosomatic pain happens when you experience different types of physical pain or discomfort, regardless of your age and health condition. You might be suffering from psychosomatic pain if any physiological disease or illness does not cause these symptoms.
These symptoms can come in the form of a knot in the stomach, sudden trembling and shaking, muscle tension, a release of adrenaline into our bloodstream, persistent headaches, an elevated heart rate, and many others.
Thankfully, there is a growing body of research on the link between our physical health and our mental and emotional health, and as we learn more about how our inner world affects our bodies, we can find ways to manage our symptoms better.
Seek medical help
Like everything else in our bodies, we can’t just assume what disease or illness we have or diagnose ourselves based on what we see on the internet. We need to seek medical help, which means seeing our doctor or primary healthcare provider. Only they can help us go through tests that can finally determine what’s been causing our physical pain or discomfort. Don’t be too quick to assume that what you’re feeling is caused by emotional or mental distress; consult with your doctor to help you eliminate other potential diseases first. The only way to get rid of surface pain permanently is by addressing the root cause of it.
However, once you’ve confirmed that you’re otherwise physically healthy and you don’t have other illnesses that may be causing the pain, then you can ask your doctor to refer you to a psychiatrist who can help you get to the core of what your body is telling you about your mental state, and what kind of medical treatment plan you will need to address it. This medical plan may include psychotherapy and medication—whatever is needed to help you manage or eliminate your symptoms. Some doctors also recommend chiropractic care, which can help directly address the stress on your body.
Learn productive coping techniques
Not all coping techniques are created equal—drinking, binge eating, promiscuity, or self-medicating may be soothing coping techniques, but they’re not healthy and productive ways to cope. If we want to care for bodies and minds the way they deserve to be cared for, we need to go the path of most resistance, which is to choose healthy coping techniques or lifestyle choices that can help protect your physical, emotional, and mental well-being:
- Find healthy ways to process your negative emotions. Finding a therapist with whom you have a good rapport is a gift, and once you find them, don’t hold back about how you’re feeling. Let out all of your emotions and allow yourself a good cry. You might be surprised at how freeing and healing it feels to finally be able to let go of all the burdens you’ve been trying to shove under the rug.
- Eat well and exercise regularly. It may sound impossible when you’re in the midst of grieving or sorrow, but hear me out: A nutritious meal and a strenuous workout are not going to solve all of our problems, but when you turn them into a habit that becomes your lifestyle, they can help contribute to your overall healing and recovery in the long-term. If this sounds intimidating, start small. Incorporate veggies into your meals, and do stretches for at least 15 minutes each day, and work your way up from there. Every progress, no matter how small, is still worth celebrating.
Your Mind and Body Are Worth It
Let 2021 be the year you let go of false narratives about your worth, and remember that you deserve to heal and recover from whatever you lost due to this pandemic. The process of healing may be excruciating, but the goal is always worth it.