When Unhappiness Manifests in the Body

TMS-mind body syndrome

Have you ever experienced a particularly stressful time in your life, and suddenly you’re breaking out worse than you ever did in 9th grade? Or maybe you’ve experienced a period of grief, and the thought of eating a full meal is incredibly unappealing to you because you’ve lost your appetite. Or perhaps your anxiety has become difficult to manage, and now your… *ahem*... regular… systems are all but regular?

These scenarios all speak to how our emotional discomforts can manifest in actual physical ailments when they’re not properly attended to. There is good news, though! We can take subtle cues from our body before our mind has any awareness of a problem, and this intuition is a powerful tool in our alcohol-free toolbox.

To better understand this phenomenon, we can look back to the mechanics of our body’s stress response. We know that when we face chronic stress or unhappiness, our bodies begin to pump out an abnormal level of cortisol into our systems. These stress hormones can wreak havoc on our bodies, causing GI upset, skin problems, and even changes in our body odor. This makes sense when we remember that our bodies were trying to alert us to mega-danger in the form of a T-Rex chasing us, but it’s mighty inconvenient that it results in pizza-face for us here in the 21st century.

But we use these cues to our advantage. Our body is still trying to warn us that something isn’t right; there is discomfort or dis-ease somewhere in the system, and we are in danger. And though it sounds modest in the face of dino-danger, unhappiness, depression, anxiety, and stress are all very real dangers for us. This is ever more prescient if we are in healing from habitual alcohol use and vulnerable to slipping back into old patterns. If these physical ailments are a result of emotional and mental health problems, we can take proactive steps to alleviate the discomfort.