Emotional Vulnerability When You’re Under the Weather or in Physical Pain

Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling under the weather or otherwise less than 100% well physically, that you are more prone to feeling emotional?  It’s not just you.
Dr. Marsha Linehan, who developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills, has noted in her teachings that when we are not feeling well physically or not tending to our physical health, we can experience an increase in emotional vulnerability.
So rather than judging yourself as a “big baby,” for feeling more fragile or anxious when not feeling well physically, keep in mind that this is a universal experience, and if you have borderline personality disorder or are an emotionally sensitive person, you are all the more vulnerable.
Think of someone you love who does not have BPD, and remember time when they had a headache, a cold, and ache or pain, etc. Did their personality change at all? Were they more irritable? Do they seem a little anxious? More introverted? You probably noticed something as far as a change in their outward behavior as a result of not feeling well.
Please have compassion for yourself, therefore, if you find yourself feeling emotionally dysregulated under the circumstances, given that you *do* have BPD, BPD traits, or are an emotionally sensitive person.
I can relate. Up until this week, I don’t remember the last time I caught a cold. But when I began to feel it coming on earlier this week, I did become anxious. Like most of you reading this blog, I have some trauma in my history, and some of it is related to a time in my childhood when I was sick.  So there is a trigger. I was already feeling emotionally vulnerable for a number of other reasons prior to not feeling well physically, which made it even more of a blow.
Here are some of the things I did to tend to my physical and emotional health, in order to strengthen my emotional resiliency:
  1. I created these anxiety cue cardsto keep myself grounded and in the moment when anxiety would strike.
  2. I searched on YouTube for videos on gentle yoga for when you have a cold. I found thisvideo, and it was so soothing and helpful. Please check with your doctor before engaging in any type of exercise.
  3. I stayed hydrated and ate small meals or snacks, even if I didn’t feel like it.
  4. I got plenty of rest and went to bed early each night.
  5. I made some herbal tea and self-soothed using taste, smell, and touch (the warm mug).
  6. I use my nasal spray that I had been neglecting to use.
  7. I distracted from anxious thoughts by engaging deeply with my work.
  8. I used prayer and meditation.
  9. I tended to the other issues that were overwhelming so they felt more manageable, and I felt less overwhelmed.

I am still getting over the cold, and still feel a bit anxious, but each day, it gets a little better. My body naturally begins to heal, and I feel more secure that my anxiety is just anxiety – a mouse with a microphone, if you will – and that this too shall pass.
Can you relate to this article? Perhaps you have a chronic physical illness that impacts your emotional vulnerability. Maybe you are like me, and when you feel under the weather, this can be emotionally triggering.
What skillful things do you do to care for yourself at such times?
What ideas from this post might you try in the future?
Thanks for reading.
More soon.
In kindness,
2 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.