This is a transcript of Live the 8Wise™ Way Podcast.
What is your Body Telling You?
Hello, everybody. Welcome. Thank you for joining me. This is episode 14 of Live the 8Wise™ Way with me, Kim Rutherford, psychotherapist, author of 8Wise™ Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind, creator of the 8Wise™ model and program and now podcast host too. Thank you very much for joining with me today.
So today we are going to be talking about signs and symptoms, today it’s all about asking yourself the question ‘what is your body telling you?’
In the last episode, I talked through all the different life transitions that we, as human beings, experience and how they have an impact on us, how they can trigger us, how they can cause us problems, how we’re not big fans of change so that obviously when we’re experiencing lots of transitions at one time, it causes us major problems. Now, if you are looking to improve your psychological wellbeing so that you are able to handle those life transitions better, then what you need to be able to do is be able to problem solve what those triggering issues are.
Now, in order to do that, you need to know what you are feeling, what you’re experiencing, so you need to be able to commit to some self-reflection and then you need to be able to identify through that self-reflection the signs and symptoms that you might be experiencing so that you can then think about “okay, this is where I’m at, this is what’s going on with me, this is why I might need to start looking after my overall wellness through 8Wise™ and the wellness spectrum so that I am able to make sure that I’m at my healthiest mentally, physically, so I can handle these transitions”.
So if you haven’t listened to the previous episode where I talked about the triggers, or if this is your first episode and you’re like “well, this sounds a little bit interesting, but I’m not really sure where we’re at” then you can go right the way back to episode one where I introduce you to the 8Wise™ model and if you haven’t got it, but you want to be able to follow along with the book, you can also go to my website www.8wise.co.uk or anywhere else that sells books and you can actually get a copy of the book. Then with each different episode, you can go through the different chapters creating your own program for wellness and wellbeing as well. Whilst you’re there, why not like, subscribe, do all the usual stuff that we ask everybody to do so that you don’t miss any of them moving forward and that way you really, really do create your own overall wellness program for life using 8Wise™, what we call Living the 8Wise™ Way.
As I said, we have these transitions in our lives. They cause us lots of challenges and when we have challenges, they can trigger us in different ways. When I meet clients for the first time and I’ll say to them “well, how stressed do you feel that you are?” and they’ll just say “overwhelmed but I don’t know if I’m really stressed” or “I don’t know. I just don’t know if I’m stressed or not. Life is just life. This is just normal life for me”. And so what that tells me is somebody isn’t necessarily in tune with their own body and their own mind to know if they are experiencing any form of signs or symptoms that might be telling them that their body is moving from a stress cycle that is easy to manage because, again, as humans we’re built for stress, so we’re built for a certain level of stress, but the way our body tells us that we’re either reaching that level or we’ve crossed over that level is through different signs and symptoms and we need to be able to stop. We need to sit with ourselves. We need to self-reflect and we need to connect with our body and with our mind so that we are able to understand if or what or how our body and mind is responding to stress and if it’s trying to tell us something. You can do this through mindfulness, you can do this through meditation, you can do this through key breathing activities, but literally what you need to do is take your focus from the external world and you need to come internally, and you need to assess yourself, looking at yourself in four different areas.
Those four different areas are your emotional signs and symptoms, your behavioural signs and symptoms, any physical signs and symptoms you may have, and also your psychological signs and symptoms.
Now, if you are thinking this is a good opportunity for you to do that self-reflection with me now listening to this podcast, then I recommend put me on pause for a second, rush off and get yourself a pen and paper, because I’m going to go through some of the signs and symptoms under each one of those four categories to give you some idea if you are experiencing higher levels of stress or what I would call dysfunctional levels of stress that can start causing you problems with regards to your overall wellness, wellbeing, and therefore impacting your mental health. So put me on pause, grab your pen and paper and then pop back.
Okay. So, as I said, there are four core categories to your signs and symptoms: emotional, behavioural, physical, and psychological. Let’s start with emotional. So this just gives you some form of guide to the types of signs, the types of symptoms that you would be feeling, whether it’s physically in your body and you can feel those things or you’re feeling in your gut is a bigger one really, when your emotions are trying to tell you something.
The first one you feel out of control, everything’s feeling overwhelmed and you’re feeling out of control. You may also be feeling a lack of motivation. Maybe you are angry, maybe you are frustrated, maybe you are feeling a lack of confidence, maybe even your self-esteem has taken a huge hit and you are feeling pretty rubbish, a lot of self-doubt, feeling like you’re not worthy of things. You might feel that you’re a little bit more irritable than normal with quite dramatic mood swings maybe. You might find that you’re really sensitive to criticism, become really defensive and find that you’re quite teary for no specific reason, just teary in general. These give you an indication of the types of signs and symptoms that you might be feeling under the emotional category. So take a moment to have a think, are any of those something that you have experienced very recently, whether in the last few days, the last couple of weeks, or even in the last few hours, even maybe in the last few minutes or right in this moment in time. They are your emotional signs and symptom.
Now I want you to have a think of your behavioural signs and symptoms. So these are the ones that even sometimes other people might notice before you do. It’s not a bad thing to think about them and self-reflect for yourself and, if you’re not sure, then also go and ask other people that are close to you in your life, because they tend to notice when the behavioural elements of your life are changing probably a bit more than you. This is things like social withdrawal. Are you stopping going out and spending time with your friends, are you saying no a lot more to social events rather than yes, are there problems within your relationships, it doesn’t just mean you’re intimate relationships, this could be with family, it could be with friends, it could be with colleagues, it could be that you’re arguing with your neighbour, but are there sudden problems in your relationships. Are you finding that you are suffering from insomnia or are very tired. To give you a little bit of insight for me, I know my stress levels are incredibly high when I am experiencing insomnia, because when my stress levels are really high, it’s almost like my brain is like a computer and it has multiple tabs and windows open at the same and I tend to find that my insomnia is asking me to go “okay, just like I need to shut the computer down sometimes when it’s going into overdrive because I’ve got too many tabs open, I need to do that with my brain” and I can talk so openly about this because I’m literally sat here now talking to you and I had insomnia last night and when I experience insomnia, I make the conscious decision to not lie there and roll around and get really frustrated with the process, I go “okay, I need to work out why” and I did that and I knew that I’ve got some holidays coming up and I had to process that. I’m not very good with having limited time to do things. I like a good pace. So I needed to process all of the things I need to do for my holiday because I’m going in lots of different places so I knew that was keeping me awake. On top of that I knew that other elements of my life were keeping me awake such as if I’m going on holiday how do I look after work, how do I look after everybody, and it was growing and growing and growing. So insomnia and feeling incredibly tired is definitely a major, big sign and symptom for me that I’ve learned to work with, I manage it and I deal with it and I allow myself to process what’s going on. So think about that for you. Is insomnia or being excessively tired a big one for you. Also are you reckless in your behaviour, have you become aggressive or angry in your behaviour, do you find that you are more nervous about things in general but you’re not really sure what it is. I had this yesterday. I felt angsty yesterday for no reason whatsoever and I, again, it was because of all of that stuff I’ve just said, which then led to my insomnia. Do you find that you’re prone to accidents a little bit more and this is because the cognitive part of your brain isn’t functioning as well as it could be. You can also be forgetful a lot more as well.
You might then suddenly be increasing your reliance on things like alcohol, smoking, caffeine, or even drugs, or you might find that you’re becoming a bit of a workaholic. You’re putting all your time, you’re putting all of your effort into work a lot more, but you might also find that your time management isn’t as great as it normally is and that your standards of work might have dropped as well. This is why I say it’s worth you talking to other people as well so if you don’t see any of those signs and symptoms in yourself, it’s definitely worth having a chat with your friends, your family, your management team and people like that because they might be able to tell you if they’ve experienced a change in your behaviour that gives you some indication as well. So they’re the signs and symptoms that link to your behaviour.
When we’ve got emotional out the way, and we’ve got behavioural out the way, we then move towards physical. Now, physical is when your body is physically reacting to the stress that you are psychologically experiencing. This is a classic example of what affects the mind affects the body, what affects the body affects the mind. So, do you have aches and pain in random places at the moment, do you find that you are having strong muscle tension specifically in your neck, across your shoulders and maybe down your back and down your arms, do you find that you’re getting jaw lock a bit with regards to maybe also grinding your teeth in the evenings or in general. Are you finding that you are getting sick a lot more, that your immune system isn’t as strong as it. Maybe your breathing isn’t as great as it normally is and you’re finding that you’ve got a lot of shallow breathing, maybe some hyperventilation going on as well. You might feel like you’ve always got a lump in the throat or a very dry throat. Sometimes, because you’re getting those muscle tensions, those muscles can tighten really quite strongly around your nerves and that can cause things like frequent pins and needles and numbness. I know in the past, when I used to have incredible muscle tension, when I was experiencing my really worst moments with my mental health, I used to be petrified that I was having a heart attack, not just because of the palpitations, but because my arms would feel full of pins and needles all the time and tingly because the muscles were just contracting so tightly around my nervous system. Do you feel dizzy in any way, shape or form because sometimes when we’re immensely stressed what’s happening is because we go into fear, fight or flight mode, the oxygen and the fluids from around our brain are moving to different parts of our body so we can respond in our fear, fight flight processes and because of that, it can mean that we can feel a little bit dizzy, a little bit lightheaded. Then of course there’s the palpitations that we might be feeling if we’re getting a higher blood pressure, we might be getting panic attacks, we might be feeling a bit nauseous a little bit more often. When I speak to people who’ve got very high levels of stress they go “I don’t know what happens, I just wake up every morning feeling sick”. That’s because the stress has got to such an intense level that it’s happening to you physically. Feeling physically tired. Your body aches, your mind aches. Have you ever had that, that you’re so desperate for sleep, but it’s almost like your eyes can’t stay awake, your entire body can’t stay awake, but your brain is so alert still. You get that physical tiredness. You might find that there’s menstrual changes or a loss in your libido, and you might find there’s some sexual problems as well.
So these are the physical signs and symptoms that are linked to when your stress levels are reaching either your full limit or you’ve stepped over and we’re now in a dysfunctional stress cycle.
Then we’ve got the finer one, the psychological signs and symptom. So again, have a think. Do you demonstrate or are you experiencing any of these, an inability to concentrate or make simple decisions. Again, it’s because that cognitive part of the brain isn’t functioning effectively. Are you worrying excessively, are you going through negative thinking patterns and negative thinking processes, are you experiencing depression and anxiety because your mental health has gone from thriving and excelling down more towards those critical levels. Do you find that you’re having memory lapses? Maybe you’re becoming rather vague when you’re talking about things because you can’t recall information in the same way, or you don’t even want to because you’re too tired. Do you find that you are easily distracted, that you can’t focus on anything for too long and in fact, one of your favourite things is doing mind-numbing things, rather than actually having to put any thought and effort into doing anything. At the end of the day, it’s why reality TV was created. Reality TV was created for the stressed individual because it tends to provide us with something we don’t have to think about. We don’t have to put much thought into it, we don’t have to concentrate on it. I know. The real Housewives of Beverly Hills have got me through some of my most stressful moments and, I get asked this all the time when I talk about Beverly Hills women, I love Beverly Hills, I love the real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Lisa Rinna is my favourite and I feel no shame in saying that out loud. There you go, now you know, Lisa Rinna, absolutely love her. But are you finding that you can’t focus, you’re easily distracted, are you less intuitive than normal and are you less creative, are you somebody that used to come home and play the guitar and suddenly you can’t be bothered, are you somebody that used to make up lots of games to play with the kids and now you just haven’t got the energy all the time. These are telling you that you’ve got some psychological signs and symptoms that are telling you, you are moving into a dysfunctional stress cycle.
They are the emotional, behavioural, physical, psychological symptoms. It is unlikely you would ever experience anything from one of those categories alone. The likelihood is you’re going to have a plethora of different signs and symptoms from across all four categories and the only way you will know that is if you take the time to do the self-reflection, to check in with yourself and make sure that you understand what is happening to your body and your mind and your behaviour and how you feel. The reason that this is so important is because I keep saying that there is such a strong connection between our physical health and our mental health and that stress and dysfunctional stress and the type of stress that comes from experiencing all of these challenges and transitions can lead to some major physical health issues.
For example, if you are experiencing lots of headaches or feelings of despair or lack of energy, sadness maybe, you are nervous or angry, irritable. If you’ve got that trouble concentrating and you’ve got your memory problems and difficulty sleeping, that’s kind of telling you that maybe your brain has been affected and your nerves have become affected, and that’s a physical condition that’s been generated or triggered through a mental health condition. What then happens is your physical health triggers your mental health and your mental health is now triggering your physical health. With all of that faster heartbeat, it’s creating palpitations. That’s creating a blood pressure increase. That puts you at an increased risk of high cholesterol and even a heart attack. So we now know your heart, along with your brain and nerves have been affected if you go into dysfunctional stress for too long. That nausea, possible stomach aches, heartburn, weight gain, or weight loss increased or decreased appetite, that’s because your stomach has been affected through increased levels of stress.
What then also happens is through that stress, we release cortisol into our system. Too much cortisol, if it can’t get burnt off, it turns into insulin and if insulin isn’t dealt with, it turns into fat, and this is what puts us at increased risk of diabetes because the function of our pancreas has been changed due to dysfunctional stress. If we ever experience diarrhoea, constipation, and other digestive problems, even IBS, that is because our intestines are now adapting to the stress that we’re feeling, they’ve now been impacted and because when the intestines are impacted, it affects how we actually function in our body. Then on top of that, for women, we might get irregular or painful periods. We might get a reduced sexual desire. For men there might be impotence, low sperm production, and also a reduced sexual desire. That’s because that stress level has now impacted your reproductive organs as well. So what we know from this is automatically that’s going to cause some problems in other areas. Then all of that, plus you might have acne and other skin problems, muscle aches, tension, increased risk of low bone density and a weakened immune system, which makes it harder to fight off or recover from illnesses, which is why you might be getting sick a lot more often. They’re the other types of physical health conditions that are caused by this dysfunctional stress cycle.
When we look at that, we can suddenly go “okay, so now I understand that my physical wellness from the 8Wise™ perspective, my physical wellness has been impacted quite a lot from the fact that I’m highly stressed”. But these things alone now impact other areas. So now we might have emotional wellness issues from the fact that we feel ill all the time, but we don’t know what it is causing us high levels of anxiety. We might now have to adjust and adapt to these health issues, which impacts our physical wellness, again but maybe now it impacts other areas of our life, maybe we can’t go and spend time with people like we used to, maybe we can’t work the way we used to. So it affects occupational wellness, our social wellness, maybe our whole environment has to change to try and help with this whole physical health issue.
There are so many different ways that it interjects and crosses over into our wellness spectrum. Even if you think about that reproductive organ stuff, suddenly we’re now having issues in our relationships because our stress is changing the way that our body functions, which changes the way that we interact intimately with each other.
So it’s really, really important to stop, to have a think about where your stress levels are at. Understand yourself well enough to know how your stress levels are impacting your body and your mind. So emotionally, behaviourally, physically, and psychologically, and be able to read what is happening to your body and rather than you just being sick, maybe it’s as simple as you’re just stressed and if you manage the stress, you might be able to manage the health issues that might be coming with it.
To help you do this, I want to just take a minute with you to do what we call a stress test and I’m going to take a couple of minutes. So again, if you haven’t yet got yourself a pen and paper, I highly recommend you get yourself a pen and paper. All I’m going to do is I am going to read out 15 different statements and whilst I read out those 15 statements, I want you, on a piece of paper, to write 1 to 15 and then with every statement I read, I would like you to rate yourself from zero to four on how frequently you experience what I’m talking about in the statement. So 15 statements, so just write 1 to 15 down on a piece of paper and all you’re going to do is when I read out my statement to you or talk to you about this statement and give you some information about it, I just want you to rate yourself on how frequently you experience it. If you’ve never experienced it, put a zero. If you’ve rarely experienced it, put a one. If you’ve occasionally experienced it, put a two. If you frequently experience it, put a three and if you experience it very frequently, put a four.
Are you ready, have you got your pens in hand?
So number one, do you or are you experiencing feelings of sadness? So again, it is zero for never, one for rarely, two for occasionally, three for frequently, four for very frequently. Just put your answer next to the number one.
Moving on to number two, do you find you are experiencing higher levels of mood swings, are you moodier, are people telling you that you are moodier at the moment? And again, just rank yourself zero to four based on frequency.
Then for number three, what are your energy levels right now, are you experiencing very low energy? Again, zero to four, rate yourself on frequency.
Guilt is an extreme one. Are you feeling excessive levels of guilt, and this can be guilt about multiple different things in your life. It could be not getting a workload done, not responding to phone calls, not spending enough time with the kids. It could be guilt on multiple levels. Are you experiencing excessive levels of guilt? Zero never, one rarely, two occasionally, three frequently, and four very frequently.
For number five, I want you to think about how often you’re crying. Are you experiencing very teary moments or crying spells.
When you’ve done number five, you’ve got to look at number six. Do you have a lower interest in the things you usually considered to be fun. Where are you rating yourself on frequency with regards to a lower interest in things that you used to find fun.
For number seven, I want to think about your self-esteem. Do you have low self-esteem or lower self-esteem, are you regularly experiencing bouts of low self-esteem?
For number eight, I want you to think about your sex life. Have you got a decreased interest in sex in general, are you still interested in sex? In that case it’ll be a zero or a one, but if you’ve got a decreased interest level in sex, is it occasionally, is it frequently, is it very frequently? How often do you have a decreased interest in sex.
For number nine, and this might sound like a strange one, I want you to have a think about, do you have a negative sensitivity to smells and odours? I know that might sound really strange, but our senses change dramatically when we’re in high levels of stress. One of the things that changes is how we smell things. So a negative sensitivity smells or odours.
For number 10, how often are you becoming forgetful. Again, it is zero for never, one for rarely, two for occasionally, three for frequently or four for very frequently.
Now, for number 11 I wait to think about your poor concentration. How often, how frequently are you experiencing poor concentration.
For number 12 I want you to think about how often your feelings are getting hurt, are you somebody who is currently experiencing being hurt easily? So, my feelings are often or easily hurt. What is your frequency on feeling like that?
For number 13, I want to think about how often are you feeling overwhelmed by day-to-day tasks? How often are you feeling overwhelmed? From zero to four.
For number 14, I want to think about are you overly sensitive to any form of criticism more often than you have been in the past? Are you overly sensitive to criticism.
The final one, 15. Are you currently or frequently lacking confidence in your own abilities? Answer zero to four based on frequency.
So now you should have a number next to each of those other numbers. You should have 15 numbers, 1 to 15, and next to each one of those numbers, you should have either a zero, a one, a two, a three or a four. What I want you to do is I want you to just focus on those that are rated a three or a four, just circle the ones that are rated a three, or you have rated a three or a four.
If you have rated five or more of those statements, those issues as a three or a four, what this signifies is you’ve got a high likelihood that that dysfunctional stress is now affecting your brain and by that I mean when your stress levels go so high, it starts to affect that cognitive function. The blood has drained away from your brain to go to the different parts of the body that need to respond during your fear, fight, flight processing, your oxygen levels have changed dramatically. All the fluids that are normally around your brain are not there now. So normally your brain is just held like in this big bubble of fluid. With the fluids not there, what has happened is your brain has shrunk, it’s become inflamed, and there are now holes in your brain where normally fluids would fill it up to give it full capacity. This is why you’re not thinking straight. It’s why you’re getting that foggy brain. It’s why you might be getting headaches. There’s so many of those physical symptoms and psychological symptoms and then your behavioural symptoms are linked to what is happening to your brain.
Now the good news, it might sound really scary, but the good news is blood and oxygen flow away, but blood and oxygen can flow back as well. So, it’s about implementing really good self-care strategies that start to decrease your stress levels, bring you back down to manageable control on the stress levels, your body will start to function effectively again, and you will start feeling better, your brain will start working better again and before you know it you’ll be feeling back at full health. But it’s why I talked about this a few episodes ago with regards to why it’s really important to do those self-assessments with regards to 8Wise™ that are on the website www.8wise.co.uk. You can do them for free. It’s why it’s really important for you to understand what your 8Wise™ map is and where your current levels are against each of those eight core elements of the 8Wise™ model and how you can link that directly to self-care patterns, self-care activities that are unique for you and what you need in your life so you can start to improve each of those elements of your wellness spectrum, because that will help you manage this stress, which means that you will be more effective and efficient in working through that challenging life transition that you might be experiencing now.
So this was all about what is your body telling you and I’m hoping that whatever your body is telling you, you are listening to it and if it’s not great stuff, you are going to commit to making some proper changes so that you start to have a healthier body and a healthier mind for a better quality of life.
That’s the end of today’s episode. Thank you for joining me. I really appreciate it. If this has raised any questions or any queries, any issues for you, then please feel free to contact me directly. You can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the notes there’s probably going to be a link with regards to where you might be able to send me a little soundbite if you’d prefer to send me a voice note and ask questions that way, instead. Of course, your other option, don’t suffer in silence, if you want a good support group, please feel free to come and join my Facebook group, which is The 8Wise™ Wellness Cafe and I explain it’s like a cafe because I want to be a really chilled vibe to it. I want people to feel like they can come in and just get some support, talk to each other, Live the 8Wise™ Way together, building each other up, helping each other out, supporting each other as well. At the moment, what we’ve got is a challenge going on in there that will help you to start building your wellness spectrum up because every single day, I’m sharing a different activity that you can do that links directly to improving one of the 8Wise™ elements as well.
But aside from also joining the Facebook group, you can also follow me on Facebook @8WiseTherapy or @8WiseKim, you can join me on Instagram @8WiseTherapy or @8WiseKim, you can join me on LinkedIn @8WiseTherapy or come and find me personally. Again, I’m on there as Kim Rutherford. In fact, you can pretty much find me anywhere on social media, I’d love for you to come along and chat with me there. Feel free to engage, feel free to share what you do and don’t like about everything that we’re doing.
Again, if you’re wanting to access the books, then you can go to my website www.8wise.co.uk where you can buy any of the books there, but you can also get them from all the big retailers anywhere that you can basically order books. That is the basic manual, which is 8Wise™ Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind. Also, the 12-week journal, the 12 month planner and the Pocketbook of Wellness, the whole package that you need to start Living the 8Wise™ Way for better mental health and wellbeing.
Now I am really, really excited that in the coming weeks, I am going to open up the 8Wise™ Academy and the 8Wise™ Academy has been a dream of mine for a very long time. I have been doing lots of training with regards to 8Wise™ before Covid, during Covid and after Covid, and now I’m opening up the academy. So we’ve got some training coming to you, shortly actually. We’ve got the masterclass, we’ve got the discovery program and we’ve got the full in depth, 12 module program as well.
The first few courses are all going to be done very interactively via zoom, so if you want to find out more information, then please head over to my social media sites, where all of that information is going to be, you’ll be able to register, you’ll be able to get involved and you’ll be able to get some support and help Living the 8Wise™ Way forever, which is really what I want to do for you. So don’t be scared to join any of those social media groups and get more information and find out what you need.
Again, if this has been useful for you, if this has been your first episode, then please go back to episode one and listen from the beginning and get a really, really good understanding of how 8Wise™ can help you live a healthier, happier life and why not like, follow, subscribe, share. I developed 8Wise™ because from my perspective, there are too many people suffering alone waiting to get support and I knew 8Wise™ helped me resolve my mental health issues. I know it can help a lot of other people as well, but that can only happen if we get the word out there. So please, please do share it, like it, do what we have to do to get it out there so other people who might be sat at home, suffering in silence, not feeling they have anybody to talk to can join a community, can get some support tools and tips and techniques to start making their life better right now.
So, thank you for joining me. It’s been great. What is your body telling you? I hope you’re starting to know the answers to that question. My name’s Kim Rutherford, psychotherapist, author, podcast host and creator of 8Wise™ and I’ll be with you at the next episode, where we are going to be talking about understanding your emotions so that we can actually start understanding how we are responding to the things that are happening in our lives and how we might want to change that.
So, thank you for joining me for this one and I look forward to seeing you and chatting to you in the next episode. Until then, take care and bye for now. Bye.
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