As a health coach and trainer, my mantra for every class I teach, every exercise video I film, and every private client I work with is: “Listen to your body.” Why? Because no one knows us better than we know ourselves. Listening to our bodies is also listening to our souls, trusting our guts, and raising our consciousnesses.
Here are eight ways you can start changing your life today by listening to your body.
1. Prevent injuries.
Most of us have aches and pains from time to time. In order to help prevent injuries (or further aggravate an existing injury) it’s important to stay tuned in to the physical self.
Tip: Whenever working out or doing any type of physical activity (gardening, hiking, household chores, etc.) stay tuned in to your body and how it feels. If you have an existing injury, take it seriously. Bottom line: If it hurts or doesn’t feel right, stop.
2. Tuning in and acknowledging the positive moments that pop up throughout the day will help you give and attract more positive energy.
Tip: Take a moment to bask in your victories, whether it’s special time with your child, a big break at work or a delicious dinner with a loved one, being aware and grateful will help you circulate the flow of positive energy.
3. Help your heart.
Most heart attacks begin with subtle symptoms — lightheadedness, nausea/vomiting, sweating, shortness of breath, pain in the back, shoulders and jaw. Many people try to tough it out and ignore these important signs.
Tip: Take a moment to educate yourself about the warning signals. It just might save your life.
4. Trust your instincts.
When faced with decisions, relevant and random thoughts can swirl around in our heads, making it hard to distinguish the mindless chatter from our gut-driven instincts.
Tip: Grab a pad and pencil and doodle. Jot down the pros and cons. Give yourself time to sit with your thoughts for a bit. If it brings you joy or pleasure, tune in and listen. If it makes you feel stressed out, uncomfortable or anxious, put it aside. Trust your instincts and be happy and secure and with the decisions you make.
5. Ease stress and anxiety.
The flight or flight triggers in modern life have never been greater. While we rely on this rush of endorphins to get through hairy situations, staying in a constant state of heightened stress is damaging both physically and mentally.
Tip: Tune into your body's signals: elevated heart rate, heavy breathing and racing thoughts are just a few signs that it’s time to step back, take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack. Give yourself permission to take a break and do something relaxing for yourself.
6. Lighten up.
Am I really hungry or just bored? Do I really need another piece of cake or did it just taste so damn good I think I want more? Am I thirsty because I didn’t drink enough water throughout the day? How will I feel after I eat the cheeseburger deluxe versus the kale salad with grilled chicken?
Tip: THINK before you eat. Choose wisely. Slow down. Chew. Relax. Eat at the table. Give thanks for your meal. Put your fork down between bites. Breathe.
6. Deepen your spirituality.
It's easy to distract ourselves from feeling by filling the space around us with visuals, noise (computers, tv, texting, talking), and/or material things, all robbing us of a deeper connection with ourselves and ultimately with others.
Tip: Set aside at least an hour a day without digital distractions. Read, meditate, stretch, breathe, let go, think. All of these practices will help deepen your spirituality.
7. Feel better.
Get real with how you feel. Are you tired all the time? Are you sluggish? Do you need to move your body? Are you craving fresh air, sunshine, raw veggies, water, a massage? Chances are good that there are a few adjustments you can make today that will have you feeling better ASAP.
Tip: Think about what your body is craving right now. Ex: More water, a healthy snack, grabbing a quick walk, an earlier bedtime, a simple meditation, stretching, etc. Take these cravings seriously and try putting a few of them into effect today.
8. Love yourself.
I get so caught up in doing and caring for everyone around me that I shove myself to the bottom of the list. This approach catches up with us sooner or later and we can end up feeling burned out, disgruntled and lacking in self-love.
Tip: Plan some “me” time. Do something that makes you feel loved and cared for, that makes you feel good. Be patient and gentle with yourself. Honor and respect the loving person you are by loving yourself.
Bottom line: We are phenomenal, unique beings with our brains, bodies and souls responding to every stimulus every second of every day. I believe one of the greatest gifts we can bestow upon ourselves is to cultivate and listen to this communication with the physical and spiritual self.
I may preach it but I still have to remind myself to practice it.