For sure it’s one of the least sexy topics to talk about at the dinner table. But this chronic, non-communicable lifestyle disease (well, that was a mouthful!) is so prominent all over the world that we cannot sweep it under the rug. Almost two-thirds of us in the workforce are living with high levels of stress and extreme fatigue(1), and 75% – 90%(2) of doctor’s visits are estimated to be because of stress-related problems.
I’ve written a bit about how stress works and what it does to us, and now I want to tell you the secrets of spotting health imbalances early. This is especially important as new research from Gallup has found that the average work week in America has increased to 47 hours(3), giving us 18% more opportunity than before (measured in time) to stress about work. Ouch!
How to spot health imbalances early
As I like to say:To hear anything, you must be silent. Click To Tweet
Signs rear their ugly heads long before a doctor is able to put a label on “what you have”. You must be in tune with your body to feel them. And that’s only possible when you let silence into your life. Irritability, anger, depression, insomnia and changes in appetite are frequently quoted stress symptoms, and those are amongst the easier ones to detect. But how about those weird sensations you may think nothing of?
Watch for these less-known signs
This list is by no means exhaustive but it gives you a good starting point to get you thinking about your health differently. Let patterns, frequency, intensity and length of time be your guides as you learn how imbalances manifest for you early on. Here we go…
Feeling of dryness not related to weather conditions, feeling of weakness, stiffness, numbness, vague pain in limbs, sense and other organs; blurry vision, ringing in the ears, sensation of thirst (often coupled with feeling of dryness in mouth), sour or astringent taste in mouth, rough/hoarse voice, tremors, goose bumps not related to external temperature, pulsation (e.g., twitching of the eye, heart palpitation), burning or heat sensation in body not related to weather, increased urination, gas, bloating or constipation.
Act now, your body will thank you
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, pause and reset. It’s your body’s way of telling you that something is going on but not enough for a doctor to put a label on it. According to Ayurveda, however, these are sings of imbalance, which trigger the disease process if we let them hang around and don’t do anything about them. For example, if your ears are ringing, turn off all electronics and rest. This stage is your best chance for stopping and reversing the process.
The manifestation and progression of imbalance to illness can be a long process. It may be years or decades before your allopathic doctor’s official diagnosis. And it varies from person to person. For some people, disease may localize in the heart, leading to cardiovascular problems; and for others, it may find a home in your intestine, causing IBS.
Let’s take heart disease as an example to see how long it could take for imbalances in our body to become a diagnosable health concerns, such as high blood pressure or hypertension. “Longitudinal studies of more than 3,000 European adults found that chronic stress for a period of several years predicts high blood pressure during 3 to 7 years of follow-up. This finding was replicated in young American adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, where impatience and time pressure at baseline predicted hypertension 15 years later. The INTERHEART study of 24,767 adults in 52 countries showed that myocardial infarction (MI) was associated with chronic psychosocial stress. In terms of MI risk, psychosocial stress was as important in magnitude as traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, including smoking, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension” (4).
I hope we can all learn to protect our hearts and health by detecting imbalances in our body and mind early, and then having the wisdom and courage to do something about them. This is my wish for everyone living in the fast lane. Because without our health, our productivity falls apart.
(1) Statista. 2015.
(2) American Institute of Stress. 2011.
(3) Washington Post. 2014.
(4) Rainforth et al., US National Library of Medicine. 2007.
Image by Kammeran Gonzalez Keola, Pexels