Sometimes the body holds the answers to the things we don’t know about. Our brains are very good at convincing us that we are ok, we are fine and that we are coping. How often do we tell our friends or loved ones that we are feeling ok, we even believe it ourselves to a degree? It’s easy to brush our feelings and emotions under the carpet and not deal with them, however this isn’t good for us. Our bodies are the best indicators of our health and well-being and eventually it is our symptoms that become the first warning signs that something is wrong.
I have 4 children and I am constantly checking in with them, making sure their mental health, well-being and self-esteem is healthy. I set aside time to talk to them, (they don’t always want this but they know it’s available to them and usually come to me when something is bothering them) I try to spend induvial time doing things they enjoy like cooking, baking, making up stories at bedtime, back massages and often give them healing (even if they wiggle). However unless children display visual signs of stress or anxiety, how else can you tell?
My 10 year old has shingles! Apparently it’s more common in older people, people with weaken immune systems, patients whose immune system has been suppressed with treatments such as chemotherapy or steroids or after an illness. My son hasn’t encountered any of the above, although as I continued to read my notes from the doctor it says, shingles can manifest after a period of stress.
“But I don’t feel stressed mum,” he reassures me. “Nothing is bothering me and I’m not worried.” He smiles happily as he tells me this and I believe him. The body doesn’t lie though and suddenly it dawned on me. He has experienced several traumatic events over the last 18 months. He may well think he has dealt with his emotions but his body wasn’t convinced and the first signs were his painful, itchy rash as the virus attacked the nerves around his stomach area.
Over the last 18 months, my boy has lost his beloved grandfather (my dad) and grandmother (my mother-in-law) within 3 months of each other. He has moved counties, leaving all his friends behind to join a new school and this wasn’t easy for him. There were a few ‘choice’ new friends who turned out not to be such a great choice and he has had several issues with his new teacher. Let’s just say that she doesn’t like his constant chatting (sorry, gets that from me) and this has left him knowing that he will always disappoint her. Then of course he is sitting SATs in just under 2 weeks.
My happy, cheerful, sensitive son who never holds a grudge, is never cross for more than 10 minutes and is always thoughtful – checking I’m ok, hugging me frequently and generally being extremely empathic, has bounced back from all of his difficult times outwardly, but at a deeper level, all this stress has affected him internally and his body is showing us all that although we say we are fine, sometimes we need to probe deeper and get to the bottom of our issues, be gentle with ourselves and take time to heal.
Louise L. Hay, a spiritual healer/teacher, wrote a book ‘Heal Your Body’ in which she discusses how to change our mental health patterns through affirmations to help us clear our blockages and begin the healing process. She identifies that Shingles can manifest from fear, tension and being too sensitive, and suggest a powerful affirmation ‘I am relaxed and peaceful because I trust the process of life. All is well in my world.’
In conclusion, this experience has taught me to understand that just because most children (and adults) show stress and anxiety through physical actions, shouting, crying, hitting out, bed wetting, headaches etc, it doesn’t mean that ‘happy’ children aren’t feeling stress too. Whatever our children are going through, even if they convince us they are ok, take time to connect with them and keep checking in.
I’m off now to give my son some Reiki, make him a drink, give him a cuddle and apply some calamine lotion on his painful itchy rashes.