The Meaning of Your Symptoms


The Meaning of Your Symptoms

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What are your symptoms telling you? Knowing the meaning of your symptoms can help you recover more quickly.

Getting sick sucks! No one likes it, but it happens to all of us in an incredible diversity of ways. While getting ill can be random and no one’s fault, our sicknesses do sometimes have messages for us that are worth listening to.

Sometimes, of course, our symptoms are meaningless (and we should treat them physically either way), but it is worth pausing to consider whether or not our symptoms have some messages for us. Our bodies have a way of expressing what we haven’t been willing or able to. When we listen to our symptoms, we can sometimes learn something about our lives, how we feel, and what we need as we move into the next phase of our lives. What are our symptoms telling us? Take a look below and spend some time with the questions for contemplation.

Runny Nose/Eyes

The most common cold symptoms, runny nose and eyes, mirror crying. Is there something you haven’t let yourself cry about? Something that makes you feel sad, frustrated, or overwhelmed? Crying is a way of helping your body process a loss and asking for help. Have you been processing what’s been happening? Have you been asking for help and comfort enough? Do you need to slow down, feel your feelings, and cry about something you lost?

Sore Throat

A sore throat is a bit of a swelling around the location of our speech and our swallowing. What is caught in the throat that has been unable to come out? Is there something you haven’t been saying? Or something you’ve been trying to say that hasn’t been heard? Or perhaps your body is trying to stop or slow something from coming in—something that feels too hard to swallow. Are you processing some difficult information right now? Are you trying to slow down what you are receiving from the world or the people around you? Can you give yourself a moment to pause, consider what it is you want to express, and find a new way to express it?

Coughing/Chest Congestion

When we are coughing, it feels like our lungs are squeezed, like there is something we’ve breathed in that we need to get out again. Sometimes this is about heartache or heartbreak. Have you been experiencing grief lately? Are you accepting and feeling this grief or trying to get rid of it? What would it feel like to allow yourself to be fully in the grief, to breathe into what you feel around your heart? Sometimes lung congestion is about feeling suffocated, stuck, or unable to breathe freely. Where do you need more air, more space, more freedom in what you are doing or how you are feeling?


Vomiting and diarrhea are about ejecting a toxin from the body, cleansing down to the very bottom. What toxic energy has entered your spirit? What are you trying to let go of? What is happening that you are unable or unwilling to take in and digest? Your body is rejecting or refusing something. Is there something in your life you need to reject or refuse right now? Can you surrender to the experience of clearing? What would it be like to mindfully rebuild yourself in a new way on the other side?


Nausea and indigestion can indicate that something isn’t going down very well. Your body is unsure of how to deal with what’s been offered and is unwilling to take on anything else. Is something in your life happening too fast or too often? Do you need a break to digest something you’re having trouble processing? Do you feel out of place or out of alignment with something you are doing or someone you are spending time with? Can you pause to allow your body to fully digest what’s been happening before you add more?


Stiffness is a feeling of paralysis, being stuck, unable to move fluidly or move forward. Are you feeling stuck in something in your life? Are you trapped in some way, unable to move the way you want to? Where do you need more freedom, more space, more creativity? Are you supported enough to move on your own or are you crushed under the weight of what you are trying to support?

Fatigue and Muscle Aches

Fatigue and muscle aches often come together, and they manifest an experience of total exhaustion. You’ve taken your body (or your spirit) to the breaking point, and it needs rest. Has something in your life been too much lately? Have you been trying to do too much? Have you felt too much pressure from yourself or someone else to do more than you can? Did something happen that you need time to process and recover from that you haven’t had the time or space to sit with? Can you ask for help to take a pause and allow yourself to do nothing but rest, recover, and process whatever it was that might have happened?


Fever is the body’s attempt to smoke out a virus or bacteria. It sets itself on fire, in a sense, in order to rebalance its system. Fevers can also come with a bit of a heightened mental state, sometimes coming with strange dreams or even hallucinations. The body is taking an extreme stance by turning against itself in order to face its invader.

Where have you hit your absolute limit for handling whatever it is that’s going on in your life? How do you need to give up on whatever strategies you were using before and try something totally new? Have you been stuck in a certain mindset, needing a refresh to look at things in a new way? Have you been feeling like you want to burn it all down? How can you take this opportunity to pause, surrender to your body’s wisdom, and allow your mind to shift, opening to seeing things in a new way on the other side?

However you are feeling, make sure you are resting and drinking lots of water. Listen to the meaning of your symptoms and they may just have some wisdom for you.

Read more from Julie Peters: “Hyaluronic Acid and Yin Yoga.”


Yoga and mindfulness can be tools to living a richer, more meaningful life. Explore with Julie...
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