On Headaches and Internalizing

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Last week and even a bit into this week I’ve been suffering with a headache across the top of the left side of my head. This is pretty unusual for me. A few of the first mornings I woke up with a sharp pain which fluctuated to a dull ache. One morning I had an extreme sensation of lightheadedness as well. So much so that I wasn’t comfortable driving my daughter to Pre-K – thankfully my dad was able to bring her. She loves school so much she was about to have a temper tantrum if she would have to stay home.

I had a sense all along that the headache was related to stress. But why now? At a time when at last I feel that things have started to settle down in my life. When I’ve finally allowed myself this simple, secret pleasure of expressing myself on this new blog. And when demands of my business have evened out (knocking wood not to jinx it!) so that I can start to escape the dangerous tunnel vision and see more fully around me.

How do I know this is most likely stress-related, with a slight portion of maybe needing a new pillow? Well, as it turns out, I think it’s mostly related to the chronic tension I’ve developed in my neck and shoulders, like most of the population in our 21st century computer-working world. I’m extremely lucky to have a stepmom who is a massage therapist to help ease my knotted up issues when they crop up. And she has decided to push me the extra step to greater self-care – scheduling 3 sessions in advance for me so I am forced to honor the calendar.

But moreso than the pressure caused by non-ergonomic work space, I truly believe that this is a case of internalized stress. Our bodies and minds are connected. I don’t think anyone can dispute that. And years of living with a constant level of day-to-day stress interspersed with periods of extreme stress and emotional events cannot be erased with one week of improved clarity.

In fact, I hold the theory that just when we open the door a crack to putting our walls down and relaxing a bit, our bodies sense it. All of a sudden it’s okay. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to not be the strong one holding up the world. It’s okay to break down just a little.

Hasn’t it ever happened to you that you finally get that vacation time and you come down with a cold? It’s the weekend and you throw out your back for no apparent reason?

I think it may be our body’s way of reminding us that it’s been working overtime too. Your brain needs a break, and maybe it’s finally getting one. But your body’s been doing the heavy lifting support work all along. It needs a break too. Body and mind are one – carrying and protecting your soul.

So yes, I understand. I am not particularly thrilled with it, but I understand. It all works together to remind me once again that I, and all of us, need to take better care of ourselves – in ALL ways. And it’s a reminder too that all the stress and damage of the last few years will probably not be resolved in a week. Just as my stepmom reminds me that my hopelessly knotted muscles took years to get this way and will require ongoing time, ongoing self-care, to release.

Awareness may be the first step. Listening the second. So I will listen to my body and try to care for it better. And I will listen to my soul and continue writing and all the other things I am forging forward with on this path. I hope you will take a moment to listen too. You are worth it.

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