Look, here's the thing:
I spend a lot of time talking to people with problems. I spend a lot of time talking to a lot of people with a lot of problems nearly, every day. I talk to all sorts; from the crazy to those who think they are sane (tangential fact: no one is). I've picked up my fair share of both wisdom and cynicism along the way, but what I've come to believe is true in talking to all these problematic people really boils down to a few simple truths:
1. You are in charge of your own health. Period.
2. Your health is largely determined by the amount of stressors in your life -- from self-created ones to the out-of-control.
3. It is how you deal with these influences that determines your amount of health, prosperity and fulfillment.
Now here's where I get all woo-woo on you (I told you, I grew up with The Mother). Just like feelings, physical sickness is a message. It is a message from the inner-you that something is wrong, something about your life is not going well and you need to WAKE UP, SON. This could be as simple as a need to feed yourself better (quit scarfing McDonald's like That's A Real Meal because hello, IT'S NOT). Or maybe you have chronic diarrhea because you stay up all night obsessing over wether or not you'll get that promotion. Or -- more woo woo -- you never really dealt with that time in third grade when Johnny called you ugly so now you've developed an ulcer worrying about if your hairstyle matches THE PRECISE ONE you saw on Emma Stone (total girl crush) last month in Vogue. Especially on the day of that promotion.
All of the above I would categorize as stressors. So often when I ask people about the amount of stress in their life, I get a blank stare and either a "holy jesus you have no idea" or, "oh, I don't know, I don't think I'm very stressed." Let me tell you, if you can't sleep at night because you're continually arranging and re-arranging the precise sequence of when to get coffee, fuel injector fluid and gas the next morning before work (that's me, last night); then THAT'S A STRESSOR.
But let's talk about the physiological reason why this affects our health. Because I know you're like, I WANT PROOF, WEIRDO. Adrenal glands. The tiniest damn organ in our bodies (I don't actually know if that's true, but go with it) that is like The Holy Mother over your system. Adrenal glands react to stressors -- you know, fight or flight. They produce adrenaline (duh) but because we don't really live like cavemen anymore, when they react to stress with a surge of adrenaline it doesn't have much to do. You're not going to fight your annoying boss who's staring into your cubicle during a quick sesh of Facebook stalking, and you're probably not going to flee to the parking lot to cry about him bitching you out for it, either.
So all that adrenaline (cortisol, too) has no where to go. And after a while -- after more jabs to your adrenals for This reason or That reason over the course of a day and then several -- your adrenal glands are like ENOUGH ALREADY and they kind of just go limp and stare into space like you do on your drive home from that godawful place. And then, when you get home and your kid falls off the monkey bars at the playground and your adrenals are all "I'm done for today, thanks" you leave him sitting there crying because you can't even stand up (fact: this actually happened to young Mosifer. The Mother had some adrenal issues back then, too).
And that's when all hell breaks loose. After a while, your body starts sending you little love notes. Cries for help. Pleas to calm the fuck down, please -- we can't handle this anymore. Insomnia, IBS, chronic fatigue, alopecia (and that's my true story), weight gain, weight loss, candida, blah blah blah. All of these can be linked to adrenal problems.
So what the hell are you supposed to do about it? Start by paying attention. And when they say "take a breather;" do exactly that. Breathe. Cry. Run. Take a moment for yourself. Because you are worth that much, and because your health and your sanity depend upon it.