stress related illness

Stress related illness

Your doctor can’t find anything wrong with you but you feel exhausted and sick all the time. Suffering from the misery caused by chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, migraine or gut problems? Find new ways to think about and to manage your health and take back control.

I’m sick but my doctor can’t find anything wrong!

Surveys from different countries throughout the Western world have shown that on average 30 to 40% of people who seek health care have illnesses with no clear cause and obvious basis in pathology. For many people such everyday illnesses do not seriously disrupt their lives, but this does not mean that they should be dismissed. For others, the effects of their illness can be truly devastating. Medically unexplained illnesses can undermine our comfort, mobility, happiness and sheer quality of life just as much as life-threatening conditions such as diabetes or renal failure.

There is a strong body of evidence that shows that these mysterious illnesses that are affecting so many people are associated by what is happening in our lives. This does not make them any less real. The problem is that modern medicine is not equipped to deal with such illnesses.

The mind body connection

Life events, difficult life situations, loneliness and the sheer stress and pressures of modern day life can affect how our bodies feel and function. Most of us get headaches after hours in a stuffy office trying to meet impossible deadlines. We can all get indigestion if we rush around so much than we forget to eat and then end up grabbing fast food and eating it on the run. Many of us retreat to the couch with a large carton of our favourite ice cream and a soppy DVD when we feel low – and then full of remorse afterwards when we feel sick! Even our bowel habits are prone to go haywire during periods of high anxiety or stress. Situations like these rarely bother us enough to visit a doctor

The difference between these everyday symptoms and the more severe illnesses that completely debilitate us is SIMPLY A MATTER OF DEGREE. They last longer and they have a more devastating effect on our lives.

Many times if we look back, we can see that a period of illness was preceded by changes in our lives which we found difficult to adjust to – whether a bereavement, the birth of a child or an accident. Loss particularly makes us prone to physical illness, from the empty nest of a child leaving home to go to college, the loss of a partner through separation or divorce or the loss of parents. Every loss is a loss of identity – that is why it can hurt so much. If it affects our sense of self-worth, it can totally knock our confidence and even small setbacks that we would have previously shrugged off, can start to affect us. Eventually we start to feel tense and anxious all the time. The body cannot withstand such sustained levels of threat without becoming ill.

How I work with stress related illness

When someone comes to me with these kinds of symptoms, the first thing I do is reassure them that I understand and believe them. What they feel is not “all in the mind”. I personally experienced several years of quite devastating levels of fatigue which was eventually diagnosed as ME or chronic fatigue. It led to me being virtually unable to work and even doing basic housework was impossible. And yet I looked well. Some days I was able to do all the things I wanted to do, others I was confined to bed which was confusing to those around me. So any work we do together will be in an atmosphere of trust, communication and relaxation. I will provide a safe space where I can help you to arrive at your own solutions that will help you to feel better.

I have since worked successfully with both groups of fibromyalgia sufferers and ME sufferers in Cork city and found that learning simple techniques such as breathing and mindfulness can really help. I also use deep relaxation techniques designed to encourage your body to start to gently heal itself. Our bodies have a restorative capacity that is better than any tonic or supplement. There is abundant scientific evidence that feelings of peace, contentment, relaxation and confidence reduce emotional tension restoring a healthy balance of hormones and reversing pathogenic processes.

Click here to learn more about Mindfulness and to access some free mindfulness meditations.

If you are interested in taking part in a mindfulness group in Cork, contact me.

For more information read these articles: Mindfulness and compassion, mindfulness and self help, mindfulness and fibromyalgia.