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Six Ways Stress Shows up Physically

We are often asked at Beachwood; how do I know when I’m experiencing stress? This is especially challenging when people have been in stressful situations for a long time. Eventually, it just feels normal to feel anxious and stressed. Luckily our bodies provide a guide to help us tune in to stress and anxiety and show us when we need support.

Dialing in to Our Physical Signals 

Stress causes physical illness and so many times when we’re anxious and stressed, we will have physical symptoms. When something is causing us stress, we hold and store those emotions in our body. People get tummy aches, and those bellyaches end up leading to chronic bowel or digestive issues.

Stress might also show up as chest pain, which oftentimes people think might even be a heart attack. We sometimes feel stress as shortness of breath or feeling like we can’t get enough air. With chronic stress, we can get so used to shallow breathing that we don’t even notice until someone says, “breathe deeply” and we gasp!

Palm Beach, FL Equine Therapy

Shaking with Stress and Noticing the Root Causes

Stress can also show up as tremors and shaking. Think of this as a signal, a way our bodies tell us that we can’t hold what we’re trying to carry emotionally. We can also see physical signs of stress in high blood pressure readings. Sometimes those gauges show that we are experiencing stress and anxiety, even when we think we are just fine.  

Oftentimes, people hold anxiety and stress in their backs and can end up with a weak spot or a place that’s over stressed. That’s where backaches or back pain can show up. We often can’t even remember doing anything physically to tweak our backs, but it hurts all the same.

Listening into Our Bodies Helps

All of these physical manifestations are signals to us about stress. This is our body telling us: we’re doing something too hard, or too big, or too much, or in a way that isn’t helpful to us.  

This can be a really surprising idea for many people; our culture promotes trying hard, trying longer, working through pain, and ignoring our physical symptoms. So, we ignore, or tune out, or numb ourselves. We can forget how to listen to our bodies when they are telling us what’s really going on.

Pikksie Wish - Beachwood Center for Wellbeing Staff

Stress Signals tell us to Change

Biologically, our stress response is designed for us to move away from what is causing us stress! It’s actually designed for us to notice that something doesn’t feel good and to STOP doing whatever it is we’re doing, or CHANGE the way we are doing it.  It is so important to pay attention to those symptoms—the tightness in our chest, our stomach pain, our tremors, our muscle aches from holding in our anxiety, our spiking blood pressure—before these natural stress signals become illnesses.  

Listening to our Anxiety Responses and Taking the Hint!

  • The stress response protects us if we listen to it. To be able to run or to fight or to survive something that feels way too big for us, we naturally hold energy in different places. 
  • A healthy stress response helps us MOVE AWAY from the issue or CHANGE how we are responding and LET GO of the energy we stored. 
  • However, when we ignore those signals, we keep holding our reaction in our bodies, which can manifest as physical illness. 
  • Sometimes we get stuck here. So, we need help learning how to process the stress in a healthy way. We also need support to strengthen our responses to stressful situations. 

Beachwood Can Help with Anxiety, Stress, Grief, Depression, Chronic Pain, and PTSD

When we hold in our anxiety and stress for so long that it becomes chronic pain and anxiety, it is time to reach out for support.  Beachwood Integrative Equine Therapy can help. 

Beachwood’s horses and IET therapists can help you to move from chronic stress reaction to healthy response. Listen to what your body is telling you and contact us today to find relief and to start healing.


Shift Perspective …. Heal with Integrative Equine Therapy as seen in Sesame Workshop’s Oscar nominated documentary Through Our Eyes HOMEFRONT on HBOMax 

Beachwood IET is located in Rhode Island and Florida. Call us at: (401) 788-9110 or email: info@beachwoodri.org

Anxiety may be contagious, but with your help, HOPE is viral. #HealWithHorses @BeachwoodRI

To support our integrative equine therapy work via Go Fund Me: https://gofund.me/6121f8cf

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