What does it mean to listen to your body?
Your body likely knows something is wrong before you do. Listening to your body requires tuning in to your thoughts, feelings and behaviors in addition to being mindful of any symptoms that are unusual for you.
How to listen to your body
- Check in with yourself. How are your stress levels today? Are you feeling too sore to exercise two days in a row? Is your heart rate beating more quickly because of a potential underlying issue, or have you just had too much caffeine today? Have you been getting restful sleep, or have you been tossing and turning and having nightmares?
- Take care of yourself. Our basic necessities like food and water can play a larger role than we might think on the way we feel. Dehydration and hunger can lead to irritability, aggression, agitation, fatigue and rapid heartbeat. It’s no surprise that these symptoms can make us feel upset and uncomfortable without realizing the cause. Drink plenty of water during the day and eat satisfying meals on a consistent schedule. Your basic needs must be met before you can nourish your mind, body, and spirit as a whole.
- Confront your negative thinking. Borrow from cognitive behavioral therapy principles and recognize when your self-talk is faulty. You know, rationally, that you are a worthy and intelligent person. Each time your self-esteem tells you anything to the contrary, recognize that it’s only your self-esteem talking and not reality. This will help you gain a better understanding of your mind, body and sense of self and recognize when negative self-talk is a sign of something more.
- Know when to slow down or take a break entirely. Whether you’re too achy to exercise or are feeling burned out from school or work, it’s usually time for a break by the time you notice these signs. Learn what your body’s limits are and set boundaries accordingly.
What your body might be telling you
The unfortunate reality of healthcare for some people is that you have to be your own, and sometimes only, vocal advocate in order to be taken seriously. Depending on the symptoms, your body could be trying to show you that something is wrong. If any symptoms are bothering you, make an appointment with your doctor or ask for a referral to a specialist to look into it further. If you feel your doctor isn’t listening to you, don’t be afraid to respectfully insist on doing testing or even seeking a second opinion from a practitioner who may better understand your concerns.
In addition to your physical health, listening to your body can also help you keep an eye on your mental health. If you’ve found that you have had to confront your negative self-talk more and more, for example, this could be a sign that you’re experiencing an increase in anxiety or depression. Anxiety and stress can produce myriad symptoms, from racing thoughts to nightmares to eye twitches, and these signs could indicate that you need to slow down. You aren’t expected to operate at full speed all of the time, so listen to your body when it’s asking for a break.
Tip: refrain from searching your symptoms online. It is not a substitute for going to the doctor, and it will only make you worry even more.
What your body might not be telling you
When you become hyper-aware of things your body does, every twitch, ache and itch, you may begin reading into every single “symptom.” This will only exacerbate health anxiety, and may make you feel things that aren’t really there. Listening to your body means to be mindfully aware of how you usually feel and when things feel different, but it does not necessarily mean to call the doctor every time you feel a little off (unless, of course, your doctor is already monitoring and treating you for a health condition).
It’s also important to remember that, while some signals from your body can be symptoms of a larger issue, they can also just be side effects of the human condition. Fatigue, for example, can be a symptom of a number of autoimmune diseases; it can also be a symptom of dehydration and not getting enough sleep. When you notice a symptom that feels weird, check in with yourself and do a quick body scan to see if you have eaten enough, drank enough water or are having a particularly stressful day at work as things like this could be the culprit of some symptoms.
High Focus Centers can help you learn skills for listening to what your body is telling you. Reach out today at 800-877-3628.
This is not meant to serve as medical advice or a diagnosis. If you feel you are experiencing serious symptoms like chest pain, severe shortness of breath, or inability to speak, think, walk, or see clearly, dial 911 immediately.