Is Obsessing About Physical Health Undermining Our Mental Health?

Vitamins on plate

I was a 50-year-old woman who faithfully went to the gym, occasionally practiced yoga, ate my veggies, didn’t smoke, indulged in maybe one glass of wine a week, and doggedly logged my 10 thousand steps a day. Imagine my surprise when late last year I ended up in the ER with “classic signs of female heart attack.”

After EKG’s, X-Rays, and comprehensive blood work, the doctors found nothing wrong with my heart or lungs. Pronounced physically healthy, I was instructed to see my primary physician if my terrifying symptoms (sharp pains in my chest, back, and jaw) continued.

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Having Healthy Sex after Sexual Assault

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The summer I was nineteen, I researched and wrote a travel guide to Italy, journeying from Venice to the Cinque Terre armed only with a sundress and my handy dandy Macbook.

It sounds pretty ideal, and it was—except for the constant, terrifying, enraging sexual harassment. From being groped on the train to being kissed non-consensually by hostel owners and bartenders, the summer left me tan, skinny, with killer calf muscles — and with a feeling of total disconnect from my sexuality. After months of constant, unwanted attention and physical violation, I felt that my sexuality had become a weapon used against me rather than something for my own pleasure.

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7 Self-Care Tips for When Stress Affects Your Body

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Since I was a boy, my body has been extremely sensitive and reactive to both physical and emotional stress. When my parents announced we were moving away from my hometown, my muscles tensed up so much I could barely use the bathroom for many days. Eventually I learned these health issues were a combination of a rare muscle tension condition and psychosomatic symptoms from my depressive-anxiety disorder.

Because my body usually felt like a car that had driven hundreds of thousands of miles — parts constantly requiring maintenance, always creaking, sputtering, or breaking down — I became a master of self-care. I spent hours every week making a conscious effort to heal and recuperate. This lifestyle was the only way for me to survive and function well enough to graduate from college and find employment. Whenever I neglected proper rest or pushed myself too far, new symptoms arose. Continue reading 7 Self-Care Tips for When Stress Affects Your Body