The body holds much of the information we need to function at our best, but too often we ignore its messages and plow ahead listening to our mind instead. As kids, we are not taught to pay attention to the internal messages our body sends like we do the external messages.
The body’s communication is frequently ignored in lieu of another extra-strength Tylenol or Tums rather than investigating what’s causing the headache or digestive upset. We depend on caffeine or sugar for an energy boost, rather than hearing our body’s message about needing rest or recognizing our fatigue as an early symptom of burnout.
Often, we fail to consider the thousand little messages communicated to us by how we’re holding ourselves. Contracted jaw, shoulders up around our ears, or the knot in the pit of our stomach as we commit to one more thing even though we’re already over-extended.
We’re also really good at putting deadlines ahead of our aching bones or inadequately nourished bellies. (Is there hidden wisdom in calling a due date a deadline in the first place?) Instead of asking our body what it wants, we go for the quick fill-up or the comfort food that may be the last thing we really need.
So, what to do to give your body an equal say in how you use it?
7 Strategies to listen to your body
Start with the breath. Breathing consciously is a major part of body awareness. Turn off the thoughts swirling in your head by labeling your breathing, “In. Out. In. Out.”
Allow yourself quiet time. Sit for ten minutes just observing yourself, even (especially!) in the middle of a busy day. Meditate. Take a walk or a nap. Allow time to do nothing.
Get a massage. It’s not self-indulgence to be massaged; it wakes up the whole nervous system and helps you tune in.
Use your journal to dialogue with your body. Ask your body how it’s feeling, what it wants, what’s going on. Give that sore wrist or stiff lower back a voice. If you let it, it will tell you what its message is.
Eat when hungry, sleep when tired. Take a week and really pay attention to your body’s most basic needs. Do your real rhythms for eating and sleeping conform to the habits you’ve established? If they don’t, change them!
Do a body inventory to relax. Start with your toes and work upwards. Scan your body from the inside. Or try tensing each part slightly, then relaxing it to release residual tension.
Practice mindfulness. Get used to tuning in to your physical self, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
And if your body suggests rolling down a grassy hillside, taking flight on a playground swing, or skipping down a winding path, why resist? Its impulses hold the key to our well-being!
Wishing you peace, health, and happiness,
Certified Master Stress and Mindset Coach
Founder, Rise Up and Live Wellness
Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications