What does it mean when somebody tells you to “listen to your body”?
It’s a popular buzz phrase that almost everybody – from doctors, to personal trainers, to yoga teachers – throws around with the best of intentions.
The thing is, a lot of people don’t actually know what it means to listen to their bodies. In fact, most people don’t even hear their bodies, and if they do, they hardly acknowledge it, least of all listen to it.
So what does it really mean to listen to one’s body?
It means to hear it’s messages and then to act on them appropriately and with compassion.
That means that when you’re thirsty, you drink. Know that if you allow yourself to get to a state where you are feeling thirsty, that you are already dehydrated, and will need to:
- Drink plenty of water, enough to totally quench your thirst
- Continue to keep drinking water frequently throughout the day
It means that if you’re tired, to rest. If you can avoid it, rather than making yourself a coffee and ploughing through, take a nap, regardless of what time of the day it is.
Of course, if you’re at the office, you won’t be able to do this, but perhaps you could take your eyes off the computer screen for 5 minutes and stare away at some distant point to relax your eyes. You could also try getting up and moving around (even if it’s just to run a fake errand), and of course, rehydrating your body.
When it comes to fatigue, sometimes the body needs to rest immediately, and sometimes it needs to move a little bit more, depending on the cause of the fatigue. How do you know? There really is only one way: STOP. LISTEN. If you still feel totally disconnected from your body, then try one and see if it works; if it didn’t, try the other. Experiment. Get to know yourself and your body’s cues.
Reacting to fatigue by stuffing yourself with sugar, refined carbs, and caffeine is a lot like rubbing salt in a wound. You heard your body’s cues all right, but rather than working with your natural rhythm, you’ve decided to make things even worse.
And let’s not forget the body’s ultimate cry for help: Pain. Do you have any idea how much suffering and damage your body will endure before it signals pain? Do you realize that by suffering through pain, you are actually increasing your sensitivity to pain? Let that sink in for a moment.
By letting yourself suffer through physical pain (that is, by refusing to allow yourself to rest or take advantage of pain relief medications/supplements), you are literally doing the opposite of what you hope to achieve.
If you think that you’re building a tolerance to pain or getting “used” to it, you are dead wrong. One thing I was surprised to learn from Pain Management Workshops is that when you get used to suffering through physical pain, your pain tolerance decreases and your sensitivity to pain increases. Soon, things that aren’t even supposed to be painful will start to hurt you.
This is a very painful and true reality that I witnessed for myself back when I was still practicing as a nurse. Many patients become “frequent flyers” if only because they refused to nip their pain in the bud.
Listen to your body.
Exercise is great for this – it keeps you grounded in your body (literally), and helps you become more sensitive to your body’s cues. Many of us live the majority of our days in our heads, working away and manifesting our ideas and thoughts into the physical world either for our work or creative pursuits. And yes, technological advances like tablets and computers haven’t helped, but we humans have been doing this since the beginning of time. What technology has done has made it much more irresistible to stay planted at your desk. Tear yourself away from your work as often as you can (hello, tablet!), and you’ll find that you’ll return refreshed and inspired.
I shared a quote on my Facebook page a few days ago which outperformed my other posts dramatically (and I share plenty of quotes and insights!). The quote is from the Teachings of Abraham (as channeled by Esther and Jerry Hicks), and it goes:
“If something feels off, it is.”
Simple as pie, really.
If you’re feeling off, what are you going to do about it? Rise above and do something – anything.
If you’re feeling on and amazing, then keep going 🙂
We are physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual beings, and all of these aspects of ourselves are connected. A problem in our physical body is indicative of a problem in all other areas of our lives. Learn to listen to your body, and it will reward you in ways that you have never thought possible.
Love + Light,