I may have a wise body, but that doesn’t do me much good if I’m not willing to listen to it. I have found that until I developed a healthy mindset and became more mindful I would override my body’s cries, and sometimes screams, to stop because my strong, stubborn mind would override my body’s voice of wisdom. Listening to your body helps you to know when to push harder, when to rest, and when you might need to make changes.
What does listening to your body mean? Listening to your body means taking the time to assess how your body responds to things like exercise, food, hydration, stress, and rest (or lack of it). It's easy to get caught up in our “busy-ness" that we forget to take the time to see how we really feel.
For example, after you start a new, healthier routine, listen to your body and be aware of how you really “feel." If you feel better than before, this can help you overcome that urge to stop and go back to the previous behaviors that weren't good for you.
Likewise, take note when you don’t feel so good, and be curious about why. Is it something you ate? Were you sedentary for a long period of time? Tap into your physical, mental, and emotional response to identify what is causing you to feel bad or out of sorts.
Self-awareness is the key to taking the first step towards changing your behavior to what you truly desire.
5 Tips for Better Body Conversations
1. Meditation & Yoga These two practices can be calming, and offer a focused time for self-care where you can assess yourself from head to toe, inside and out. There's a variety of ways to meditate. It might be a walk, sitting out in nature, or even taking 10 minutes to sit quietly alone in stillness before everyone else wakes up.
2. Mindful Eating Eat foods you love, but take the time to understand why you might be loving them. Is there an emotional attachment? Do they create a feeling? And then take note if your emotion is overriding your body’s voice. How do you feel before you eat? While you eat? After you eat these foods? I can never say enough about being mindful of hydration. I found for myself that if I don't set intentions and measures to drink enough water, I won't. I have learned how dehydration is bad for my skin, increases my appetite, causes brain fatigue, and prevents me from losing weight.
3. Journaling Here's where you literally take note. Write down what you want to do to take care of yourself today. It can be something small, like getting in some extra movement every hour of your workday, planning to drink plenty of water, or getting enough sleep each night. I stopped setting alarms to wake up and started setting timers to sleep a certain amount of time. My sleep got so much better when I went to bed and my goal was to sleep vs to wake up.
4. Breathe More Stress Less When you understand how your body reacts to stress, it can be easier to take action to reduce the impact. A deep breath helps to switch out of adrenaline mode and calm the nervous system.
The "Box Breath" is a breathing practice that can help you calm your mind and relax:
Inhale for 5 counts (or a count that is comfortable for you)
Hold for the same amount
Exhale for the same amount
Hold for the same amount
With each exhale set your intention to relax your shoulders and your jaw. Notice how you feel after you complete the Box Breath for 3-5 rounds.
5. Make body-focused decisions Over time, as you learn to listen more to your body, you’ll find that you can make better informed decisions and improve your overall wellbeing. As an example, if the weather is nice I park way out from the store I might be shopping at so I can get in more fresh air and movement.
There are many ways to care for your body, but stress management, movement, breath, hydration, nutrition, and fundamental to good mental and emotional health. It starts when we take a moment to listen to our bodies. When we do, we will find most of the answers we need to living a happier, healthier life.
Author, Charlotte Rose, is the founder/owner of ahhhMazing Life Yoga & Wellness and the newest partner of Live Free Yoga. Her yoga journey started over 20 years ago, and she’s been teaching for more than 13 years. Her journey started out as an adventure in self discovery but has evolved into a practice guiding others to self discovery, and healing in body, mind and spirit. To find peace in the moment... to live the best for the rest. She is also an IIN nutritionist, REIKI Master, Life & Wellness Coach, QiGong Level 1 Teacher and continues to train in many areas of energy, breath, movement, and trauma recovery through meditation & movement.