In April I had the opportunity to speak at a Women’s Business Network breakfast, and I spoke about a topic that I deem extremely important. Read on to find out how to start listening to the language of your body.
Your body is great. I’ve said this before in another blog post, and I mean it.
Listening to the language your body speaks enables you to give it what it needs. When you respect your body’s needs, you can nourish it in the right ways, and be healthier, more functional, and overall happier with life.
Too often we ignore the little signals our bodies give us. Headache? Just pop a pill. Tired? Just one more hour on the computer. Stiff? Ignore the discomfort, it’ll eventually go away, right?
Nope. The body has the amazing ability to speak to you louder and louder until you get the message. Eventually, it will make you pay attention, even if it has to shut you down with extreme pain or limitation.
When learning to listen, it’s vital that we deem ourselves important enough. If we don’t, we’ll never understand our body’s language because that would mean we’d have to listen! Many people get by on “good enough” but is that really okay? Would “good enough” be an adequate health status for our children? Our significant others? No way! Would you drive a vehicle every day that was only “good enough?” Probably not.
And yet we “drive” our bodies around in that state all too often. You are important. Make sure you know that. Because “good enough” within our own selves does not lead to greatness in our family lives, our relationships, or our businesses.
So how do I know what my body has to say? Here are the steps to follow:
What is your body saying? Start simple. How is your temperature right now? I ask my clients this before every massage, and it tunes them in right away. Too warm? Sweaty? Chilly under a vent? Just perfect? Take a second and tune in to what your body feels about temperature.
Then, move on to discomfort. Start from your head and work down to your toes. Are you uncomfortable anywhere? Are you extra aware of one side of your neck versus the other? Are you sitting in a way that’s making your back hurt? Are your knees creaky? Discomfort and pain are often ignored because we feel we don’t have the time for them. However, to paraphrase an oft-used quote, Those who think they have no time to deal with discomfort will sooner or later have to find time to deal with injury.
Once you have tuned in to your body’s sensations like cold/hot, hunger/satisfaction, or discomfort/pain, you’re on the right track. Sensations are important because they connect you to what your body needs right now.
Assess. Why am I feeling this way? It’s important that you assess without judging too much (it’s hard, I know). Judging can lead to runaway emotions and turn small problems into big ones.
For example: The sensation of being too hot can lead to annoyance – I hate having these hot flashes! Stupid body! Instead of judging, ASSESS: do you notice that they happen more often when you’re stressed? More often in the morning? Can you see a pattern? If you can, you’re closer to understanding your body’s language, and it can help with your emotional response.
The sensation of pain or discomfort can lead to anxiety – what’s wrong with me? Is this serious? Is it just a headache or something worse? Instead of judging, ASSESS: Why is my head hurting? Am I dehydrated? Have I been staring at this screen too long? Did I sleep funny? Asking simple questions can sometimes reassure you when it comes to pain.
Take Action: Now that you’ve discerned what your body is trying to tell you (or you’re on track), you need to take action. It’s important not to tell your body to “shut up.” Eventually, your body will make you listen, even if it has to shut you down in the process.
If you don’t know what action to take, that’s okay. Asking for help is perfectly fine. My colleagues and I help people learn to interpret their body’s language every day. It’s a process of trial and error. But you have to take some action, or nothing will happen at all.
If, while practicing, frustration creeps in, remember that’s normal. We all want instant gratification: I want my body to just be good! I want there to be no pain or discomfort!
Well I want my business to make a million dollars this year, and I want my kids to pick up their clothes without me asking a million times… but it doesn’t just happen!
You have to learn how to ask if you want results. Learning to speak back to your body is as important as listening to it speak to you. We’re not going to live healthy into our eighties by eating crappy food and being sedentary. When we eat crappy food, we’re telling our bodies “Here, this is your fuel.” When we exercise, we’re telling our bodies, “Get used to this; adapt; be stronger.” By comparison, if you tell your body, “this computer posture is normal” eight hours a day, your body will adapt to that!
Remember that you are speaking to your body as much as it is speaking to you. You can get help learning to listen to your body’s language, but for the most part, it just takes practice and perseverance, and an intuition that I know we all have (we are women after all!).
To recap: In order to be better at listening to the language of your body, first, TUNE IN to the physical sensations and the emotions that your body is presenting to you. Tune in often. Scan your body often.
Second, ASSESS why your body is speaking to you. Why am I feeling this way? If you can’t figure it out, ask for help.
And third, TAKE ACTION when your body speaks to you. Take action in a timely manner, and use intuition as your guide.
Remember: even though it might not always feel like it, your body is great. It’s great. And it’s talking to you. Make sure you listen.
Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff. She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves. She believes that pain-free is possible. For more about Jen, click here.