When things go awry with our health, it usually doesn’t just happen without warning. Our bodies typically send out signals letting us know there’s an issue and it’s up to us to pay attention and listen. But it’s not just physical health our bodies communicate with us about, it’s mental health as well. “Messages from your body that you are experiencing acute stress or chronic stress or depression and important to know, they can help you realize that what you are feeling is very real and requires attention, possibly diagnosis and treatment,” Gail Saltz MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry The New York Presbyterian Hospital and host of the “How Can I Help?” podcast from iHeartRadio tells us. “They can also tell you that you need to develop more coping tools to manage stress and your mood to fare better in the long run and prevent future episodes. And because these conditions are not good for your health they help you work to decrease stress which is better for overall health and improves mood, also good for overall health,” she added. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who help decode what messages your body is trying to send you and why it’s important to listen. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss Already Had COVID? These Symptoms May “Never Go Away”.
Dr. Saltz says, “The mind and body are connected such that what affects our brain also affects our body. When experiencing high acute STRESS the body can tell us via noticeable symptoms experienced due to initially the release of norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter) which can cause one to feel jittery, nervous, have a rise in blood pressure, feel nauseous, even feel short of breath.Over time if stress is maintained and becomes chronic stress then the constant release of the hormone cortisol due to ongoing stress causes wear and tear on the body and a person may feel burned out, fatigued, have various unexplained aches and pains and stomach aches, headaches. Our body can also tell us when we are feeling DEPRESSED. In addition to feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness and guilt…one’s body can feel heavy, leaden, numb, movements may be slowed down or you could alternatively feel very jittery. You can have trouble sleeping, and awaken too early and be unable to return to sleep and you can lose your appetite and your sexual drive. These are messages your body is telling you that you are depressed.”
Dr. Michael Green, MD, Board Certified OB/GYN at Winona explains, “Skin changes like rashes, discoloration and new growth — should always be taken seriously. Dermal fluctuations could signify anything from an allergic reaction to a serious illness or internal infection. Often, skin changes are the first sign of diabetes, lupus or liver problems. For example, diabetics often present with dark patches on the neck, armpits or groin. Lupus, an autoimmune disease, is commonly associated with a butterfly shaped rash across the cheeks and nose. A rash or jaundice appearance could be a sign that a person’s liver is not functioning properly. Knowing this, never dismiss dermal changes as nothing. The skin is the largest organ on the body, and changes can signal a larger issue. Always talk to your doctor if you notice something’s amiss.”
Lindsay Tullis, CHC, Health Coach at Mighty Health shares, “If you find yourself often feeling hungry or wanting food, your body could be telling you that you actually need more sleep. Lack of sleep can increase ghrelin, our hunger hormone. It’s important that we listen to this signal, as it’s not always food our body is looking for.”
According to Tullis, “Fatigue can often happen after a long day, especially if it follows a restless night. But it can also signal something more serious. Chronic fatigue can be a symptom of many underlying conditions such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, or diabetes. It’s important to not only listen to how often your body is fatigued but also what may trigger your fatigue so that you can take the necessary steps to address it.”
Tullis says, “Sore muscles after a strenuous workout can feel like a burden and often take a few days to recover from. But sore muscles are our body’s way of telling us that we are making progress and getting stronger. Muscles feel sore after you put stress on and tear down the muscle fiber. The muscle fiber then will repair itself and come back stronger each time.”
“Muscle cramps are a common thing that happens to almost everyone,” Tullis emphasizes. “They can be your body’s way of telling you that you have overused that muscle in exercise, you need more electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, calcium), you are dehydrated, or that you are experiencing low blood flow. Listening to your body’s frequency, severity, and symptoms that follow (swelling, redness, or a feeling of warmth) can help you determine whether it’s your normal muscle cramp, or if you need to seek help from your physician.”
Tullis explains, “We often get that itch for something sweet or salty and immediately think it’s because we’re hungry, but it can also be your body’s way of communicating dehydration, stress, or lack of sleep. Hyper-palatable, calorie-dense foods are often used to mask an underlying emotion or condition. Next time you get a food craving, try taking a pause and listening to what your body truly needs before making an instant decision.” And to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.