Are Physical Ailments The Results Of Emotional Distress?

Have you ever, or are you currently experiencing, physical pain that cannot be explained? Do you carry excess weight and inflammation even though you eat right and take good care of yourself? Do you have a chronic condition that you want to manage but medical treatment doesn’t’ seem to be working that great? Did you ever stop to think that your thoughts and emotions might be the cause of these physical ailments? In this blog, you will learn the answer to the question, “Are Physical Ailments The Results of Emotional Distress?” And learn about the role your emotions play in your physical health and what you can do to enhance your physical and emotional health and well-being. 

Have you ever read a book or listened to an inspiring talk that spoke to your inner core being? Something so profound that it changed the trajectory of your life? I have many times which is why I wanted to share this information with you.

Many years ago, I read a book that changed my life and the way I looked at my body forever. This book was, “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay. In her book, Louise speaks about how our limiting beliefs and thoughts are often the cause of physical illness and she teaches that if we change our way of thinking we can improve the quality of our health and life as a whole. 

I found this interesting and started to look at some of the physical ailments I have struggled with through my life. 

Some of the physical issues I am currently dealing with, and ones you may be able to relate to, include:

Knee Pain/Problems

Louise suggests that joint issues, including knees, represents having a stubborn ego and pride. Holding on to fear and lacking the ability to bend or be flexible in life. 

The ego is defined as a person’s self esteem or self-importance. It is the self that tries to keep us safe. In doing so, often keeps us in fear and holds us back in life. Or, the ego may cause us to have to much pride to look within and take responsibility for our actions. By looking at my own self, and ego, I know I have let my ego and pride get in the way of seeing new opportunities. I often sit in fear of failure and therefore don’t even move toward some of the goals I set for myself. 

Action Step:

Take a look at your own life and where your ego may have worked hard to keep you safe and prevented you from living your best life. Have you ever held strong to a belief regardless of whether or not it was right and serving you in your life? How has this effected you physically? 

If you suffer from joint pain, and want to work on relieving the issue, work on these few things:

  • Meditate and let go. By adopting a regular practice of meditation, you can work on connecting to the ego and helping the ego release you from the fear that keeps you from moving forward in your life. Thank the ego for protecting you then encourage it to leave you alone. Think of the ego as a separate person who just desires your acknowledgment but is not necessarily someone who knows best. 
  • Move your body. It’s important to exercise and keep your body strong. Keep the muscles around the joints strong will help stabilize the joint and help reduce pain.  Exercise also helps reduce stress, which is often held in the physical body as pain.  
  • Eat Nourishing Food. Eat an abundance of whole, real food to nourish and reduce inflammation in the joints. 

Colon Issues/Digestive Problems

I have had colon and digestive issues for as long as I can remember. Digestive issues are now very common in people these days. Louise suggests that issues in the colon are the result of holding on to the past and the fear of letting go. 

Recently, I have been doing a lot of research on how to relieve my digestive issues. I was listing to the Plant Proof Podcast, where the host Simon, interviewed  Dr. Will Bulsiewiscz. He suggested that digestive issues are often related to the food we eat but most commonly the result of a traumatic event, or events, that happened in childhood. 

These emotional connections to digestion hit me like a ton of bricks. I had a very traumatic childhood as my dad was a violent schizophrenic when I was young. I have spent my life pushing down the feelings of what this was really like. I am sure I have never really let the emotional distress go and it sits in my colon even though it may not be a conscious thought. 

Action Step:

If you have digestive issues, specifically problem in the colon, take a walk down memory lane. Was there anything traumatic that happened to you in the past that may still be affecting you today? Are you holding on to something from the past this is no longer serving you? 

To release the discomfort of digestive distress, work on these few things:

  • Meditate and let go. Sit with your thoughts on a daily basis and allow the thoughts that arise, good, bad or ugly, to be felt and released. In her book, The Choice, Dr. Edith Eger had some of her clients yell, scream and hit pillows until all the painful emotions were released from the body. Whatever way you choose to release, do it until you are able to fully let go and begin to live in the present moment. 
  • Seek help. Asking for the help of a trained medical professional is also a good option. They are there to help support you in ways no one else can. They know how to help get you through the pain and trauma.
  • Eat whole, high-fibre foods. Taking care of the physical body by eating whole, plant-based, high-fibre foods will also help support colon health. 
  • Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is important, especially for the colon as it requires water to move waste out of the body. 
  • Move your body. Exercise and movement will help keep the colon healthy as muscle contraction helps the colon move food waste. Seated and lying twists are especially good for digestion. 


Ladies, show of hands, who hates looking in the mirror and seeing those leg bumps staring back at you? I know I have hated my legs for many years and often hide under long skirts of pants because of it. The crazy part is that by hating ourselves and the way we look we remain stuck in a vicious cycle. 

Physically, cellulite is the result of fat protruding into the layer of connective tissue and dermatological layer just below the skin. The exact cause is unknown but it has been thought that poor lifestyle choices can make it worse. 

Emotionally, Louise Hay says that cellulite is the result of stored anger and self-punishment. So, the continuous self hate is just feeding the cellulite! 

Acton Step:

If you have cellulite and want to get rid of it, or at least minimize it, follow these few steps:

  • Practice self-love. First and foremost it’s important to look in the mirror each day and send your body some love. Touch each area of the body and say, “I love you and I am grateful for you.” This sort of self-love practice has been proven to be effective in overall health and wellness of the mind and body. Even if you don’t believe the words when you fist start this practice you will eventually. 
  • Eat a healthy diet. It has been shown that people who eat too much fat, recessed carbohydrates and too little fibre have more cellulite. So, eat a diet rich in fibre-filled plant-based food to reduce your risk and the look of cellulite. 
  • Quit smoking. Cellulite has been shown to be more prevalent in smokers. Quitting will help reduce it. 
  • Exercise. Keeping body fat low and muscle mass u can help educe cellulite.
  • Other treatments. Other treatments exist to reduce the look of cellulite but in my opinion seem to be just band-aid solution. Look in to these options and if you feel you want to go ahead with one of them do them in conjunction with the ones mentioned above for best results. Like anything, you must get tot he core issue or it will just keep coming back. 

Shoulder Pain/Issues

Shoulder issues are common. I see many people I train in the gym suffering from shoulder pain. Of course, you may hurt yourself and tear a muscle, which may seem like the most explainable cause of the shoulder pain. But, why did this injury happen in the first place. According to Louise Hay, shoulder issues are the result of making life a burden by our attitude. 

Have you ever woke up in the morning and said to yourself, “I really don’t want to go to work today.” Or, “I have too much to do.” Or perhaps just have a crappy attitude about your life in general?

Action Step:

If you have shoulder issues, focus on these few things:

  • Get it looked at. The first thing you will want to do is get the pain, or injury, looked at by a health professional. It’s still important to be responsible and take care of the physical body to ensure it doesn’t turn into a more debilitating condition. 
  • Boost your energy. While taking care of the physical body, start raising your energy. Get up in the morning with a huge smile on your face, jump up and down Tony Robbins style and face the world with joy and excitement. Even if you have a busy day, or you have to complete tasks you really don’t want to do, this simple shift in attitude will make all the difference. It might even relieve your shoulder pain. What do you have to lose? Give it a try!
  • Live a healthy lifestyle. As with any other issue it’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a whole-food plant-based diet, exercise daily, drink lots of water and quit smoking. 


Inflammation is a chronic issue that many people suffer with. Chronic inflammation is the result of eating high acid foods and drinks and not taking good care of your health. However, according to Louise Hay, the emotional issue causing inflammation is fear, having inflamed thinking or staying angry. 

Action Step:

If you have chronic inflammation it’s important to work on reducing it as quickly as possible so it doesn’t cause long-term chronic issues. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Release fear and anger. I know this is easier to say than do. However, it’s one of the most important steps of all. Holding on to fear and anger is killing all of us who continue to do it. Take action today. Seek. Help from a professional to explore where the fear and anger is coining from and do whatever it takes to release it. This may mean adopting. A daily meditation practice, screaming and hitting pillows until you are no longer angry, or allowing yourself to embrace your fears by getting yourself out of your comfort zone. Whatever it takes, do it now! 
  • Eat a plant-based, whole-food diet. Eating an abundance of alkaline rich food has been shown to reduce inflammation. If you exercise, eating this way becomes even more important as regular exercise causes inflammation. The food you eat will either help to reduce the inflammation (plants) or make it worse (processed food and animal products). 

Excess Weight: 

I, like many other women, have spent their lives trying to lose excess body fat. Some have succeeded to lose it and keep it off whole many others fail time and time again. As a personal trainer and health coach I have had people come to me for the last 20 years wanting to lose weight. It is the number one reason why most people workout and go on crazy, unsustainable diets only to be disappointed with the results. The thing is, the ones who are successful are not the ones who go on restrictive diets or workout excessively. The people who successfully lose weight usually have also worked on their emotional distress, which is most often the cause of body weight issues. 

According to Louise Hay, holding on to excess weight is the result of being oversensitive. This excess weight often represents fear and shows a need for protection. This fear may be a cover for hidden anger and a resistance to forgive. This makes perfect sense. Many people have had traumatic childhoods, are fearful of the future and feel unsupported in their life. In a world of social media, we often feel like we are not good enough and eat more to comfort, protect ourselves and hide our feelings. 

Action Step:

If you feel you are holding on to excess weight and body fat here are few steps you can take to start to release it:

  • Practice self-love. Take time to sit still, calm your mind, focus on every area of your body and tell your body that you love it. Send it gratitude for all of the great things your body allows you to do. Physically touch each part of your body, if it helps to focus, and say, “I love you. I no longer need your protection. You can go.” 
  • Eat whole, plant-based foods. Feed your body with nourishing foods. This food will not only nourish your body but your mind and soul as well. Learn to refrain from eating for comfort, especially when you are feeling emotional. It never feels good after. Trust me, I know first hand. I have often used food as a way to hide my feelings. But it never works. Those feeling just keep rearing their ugly head until you recognize, deal with them and let them go. 
  • Exercise. Moving your body will not only help you build strength and keep your physical body healthy it will also allow you to feel confident and accomplished.

In closing, I believe it’s important for all of us to realize that there’s more to our physical well-being that just treating the symptoms. There’s a root cause to everything and it’s often not what we may think. Take the time to learn more about the mind, body and soul connection and explore ideas that you may not have ever thought of. The emotional distress that is apparent, or repressed, my just be the underlying issue of many of your physical body issues and what may be holding you back from showing up fully in life. 

You have a great gift to share with the world. Take the time to learn what it is, love and be kind to yourself, release the fears and limiting beliefs that are holding you back, get out there and help others! Life is too short to hide and play small. 

Let’s all agree to support each other as we play big and change the world!

Until next time,


Rachel Joy Olsen, BSc., MBA

Health & Wellness Coach

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