Holiday season body pain has arrived! What? Did I just say that body pain and the holiday season are one and the same? Yes, I did! No, I’m not off my rocker. No, I’ve not been drinking too much spiked eggnog.
Many of us who have had some difficult challenges when it comes to this time of year struggle with holiday season body pain. We may not notice it and we may not make the connection, but it is far more prevalent than society in general will admit.
If you know anything about stress and body pain, they do go together. As emotional experiences weigh hard on our mind, they create a stress response in the body of inflammation. As the inflammation builds, so does the pressure on cells and nerves. When this happens, we begin to feel it through pain in the muscles.
Holiday Season Body Pain Shows Up As…
It may be a sore back, a tight neck or painful shoulder. It could be a headache or a migraine headache. Sleep issues could show up. Emotions may be all over the place with us feeling quite emotional.
We might even feel more lethargic or depressed. Anxiety may increase. Anxiety and depression together could create a moment where we feel all alone and wanting to end life through suicide. We may want to hide and cry or we may just end up numbing ourselves with alcohol, sugar, and overstuffing our bodies with food.
As these things build up, we feel the holiday season body pain. It can get so intense that we seek out all kinds of treatments to give us a momentary release. No matter how it impacts you, if you notice it, you will most likely see how true this is.
Somatization is when we convert the emotions of our body into real-time physical dis-ease whether that is illness, disease or body pain. The holiday season is a time where this happens with intensity.
Thanksgiving and Holiday Season Body Pain
This year at Thanksgiving, I thought I was doing quite well. My emotions felt in check and I didn’t feel like the pains of the holiday season were weighing on me. I didn’t feel emotional or sad or depressed or anxious. In fact, I felt like everything was balanced. It important to note that I understand what trauma and toxic stress does to the body, so I thought I was seeing things clearly.
Then the day before Thanksgiving, while I’m thinking everything is going great, I woke up in the morning fighting a headache and body pain. Sore neck and shoulder pain were beginning to increase. I thought because I had not slept well the night before that I could blame my lack of sleep. As the day went by, I began to feel more and more pain. The intensity got so great that I just wanted to cry. I tried taking some Aleve to help reduce the pain, but it took a larger dosage of it before I started to feel the effects.
I went to bed on Thanksgiving Eve wondering what was happening. The body pain was increasing and was extremely painful. I wanted anything to make me feel less pain. I tried some bodywork and while it helped a little, the pain was still there. What was happening to me, I wondered?
Then, it dawned on me! My awareness kicked in and I realized that I was not dealing with the holiday season body pain. I began to listen to my body that I was holding in the emotion of what I felt. The triggers were there even though I could not articulate it up to that point.
Withdrew From Those I Love
I tried to focus my mind, but it was difficult and so I withdrew from those I love. I just wanted everyone to leave me alone. There was a big part of me that just wanted to hide from the world and not go out. I had already made plans to be with my husband’s family and so that kept my focus for the day. There was no way I wanted to let them down and after all, they were safe, caring people.
I tried to write something on social media and while I was met with a lot of support, I had those utopian responses of people who were not trying to understand. I wasn’t looking for answers to the holiday season body pain. My intent was to just share this part of my journey. Unfortunately, the happy feel good do nothing responses made me angry.
Then today, I got together with the ones I call my family. As I did, we were talking and I shared a personal experience with them. They shared with me how impactful that thought was because they were struggling with similar issues. By me sharing my pain (or body pain) with the holiday season, it helped them. Knowing that it helped them, I was encouraged by what they shared to me. They shared something that helped me know I wasn’t alone. Others suffered from some of the same exact thoughts and feelings.
Thanksgiving is now coming to an end and I feel the tension in my body releasing as I write this blog post. The holiday season body pain is beginning to fade. It all started with recognizing and connecting with others who were safe. Things began to improve as I shared my pain and connected with someone else in their pain.
We Somatize Our Experiences
Remember that we somatize our experiences and triggers to those moments into body pain. If we can stop and notice it and give it space to unfold, we can move through the energy that is held within our body. If we continue to ignore it and act as if it doesn’t exist, it will continue to multiply making life much more difficult. Often during these moments, we need to seek out those that understand trauma and how it impacts the body physically so we can release it. We don’t want to hold this in as it will continue to build and do great damage.
The holiday season can be very trying for many and body pain may show up, but try to see what you can learn from it. How can you shift things? What is it telling you? Seek out those who understand so they can help walk through this part of the journey with you.
One good source for how this happens is a book called, The Mind Body Prescription by Dr. John Sarno.
I’ve been doing better with the holidays until this year. Old family wounds being ripped open is sure making it a challenge. I want to go hibernate until it is over. A lot of pain to deal with. Still have my head above water, but feels like a 1000 pound weight tied to my feet.
— Don Shetterly (@mindbodythought) November 28, 2018