HOW TO STOP IGNORING WHAT YOUR BODY IS TELLING YOU
Listening to Your Body is Actually Preventative Medicine
As human beings, we’re adaptable creatures. But sometimes, we even adapt to things that can be bad or harmful to us. Over time, we just get used to little things like afternoon energy slumps or daily headaches from staring at screens.
But here’s the thing–you’re not supposed to be used to those things. They’re not inevitable. They’re actually messages from your body that something is wrong!
In the west, we’re taught to ignore our bodies. If you’re hungry after a meal, don’t keep eating because you’ll gain too much weight. If you’re too tired to power through a presentation, grab an espresso instead of taking a power nap. If you have a headache, take some aspirin instead of drinking more water.
But what if you listened to your body instead and gave it what it needed? In the long run, you’d be a lot happier and healthier. Because at the end of the day, our bodies know best. When you stop ignoring your intuition, your body and mind will get all the nutrition, rest, and TLC they need to keep you strong and healthy. Because listening to your body is the best kind of preventative medicine.
Here’s how to start listening to your body and prioritizing proactive wellness so that you can stop little bad things from becoming big bad things.
How To Listen To Your Body
Check In Often
If you’re used to ignoring your body’s signals, it can be a hard habit to break. You can remember to check in with yourself throughout the day by setting a reminder on your phone, an alarm, or purring an event in your calendar. You can start small, doing this 3-4 times a day. Soon, you’ll get used to doing this and self check-ins will happen more naturally throughout the day.
Go Easy On Yourself
Often, we can be too tough on ourselves and that’s why we end up ignoring our own instincts. Hungry? Too bad, you can eat during your lunch break in an hour. Tired? Don’t be so lazy, chug some coffee instead.
Part of listening to your body is simply being a lot nicer to yourself. It’s about taking care of yourself the way you would take care of a loved one. If your bestie or partner was hungry, you’d offer them a snack to tide them over. If they were so tired they couldn’t see straight, you’d tell them to take a 15-minute power snooze to re-energize. So why don’t you let yourself do those same things?
You don’t only need to listen to your body–you also need to be nice to it!
When it comes to giving your body all the nutrition it needs and none of the junk it doesn’t, intuitive eating is a game changer. The polar opposite of strict diet culture, intuitive eating is all about honoring your hunger, letting your body choose what it wants, and eating until your full–but never uncomfortably stuffed!
If you’re new to intuitive eating, the best way to start is with mindful meals. Get rid of any distractions–like your phone, email inbox, or TV–and focus on your food. Chew slowly, savoring the food you’re nourishing your body with. Breath deeply and notice how your meal makes you feel. And don’t forget to pay attention to your hunger levels. When you’re full, stop eating. If you’re still hungry after eating mindfully, go for seconds.
It can be hard to ditch diet culture ideas, but nourishing your body isn’t the only reward of intuitive eating–a study found that young adults who trusted their bodies and ate intuitively were far less likely to have problems with disordered eating down the line. Luckily, it’s never too late to start giving your body what it needs!
Feel Your Feelings
How often have you been told not to feel certain feelings or to ignore your emotions all together? “Don’t cry.” “Why are you stressed, it’s not that bad.” “Stop being so sensitive.”
Over time, we internalize these kinds of things and start to ignore, push down, or even reject our own emotions. When you don’t honor your emotions or let yourself actually feel your feelings, they don’t just disappear. They build up and fester, until one day they’ll explode. In Chinese medicine we call it Liver Yang Rising.
Part of listening to your body is listening to your emotions. Just like a headache or hunger, your feelings are trying to tell you something. That something isn’t always clear or obvious, but it’s probably important. When you give yourself permission to process your emotions, you’ll hold less stress and anxiety and be more in touch with your own inner wisdom.
If you’ve spent decades ignoring your body, learning to listen to it again isn’t going to be an overnight thing. You’ll have to retrain yourself to check in with your body and mind and make the commitment to give yourself what you need. But in the long run, it’s worth it.
When you’re in tune with your own body, you’ll be able to notice any shifts or changes–good or bad. That way you can stay healthier, get treatment when you need it, and feel better overall.