listen to your body
By bringing awareness to what makes you feel energized or tired, or what response is most efficient for a certain physical or emotional feeling, you can create the best conditions to thrive.
Listen to your body? It sounds obvious, right? When it comes to exercise, eating, sleeping, etc. We are told by nutritionists, trainers and the like to “listen to your body”. Upon hearing this, many of us would go: “but what if my body isn’t telling me what it needs? Or what if I just can’t hear what it is saying?” Have you ever felt this way? If you do, read on to find out my experience and advice.
When I was studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2013, I started to discover the profound meaning of listening to my body and, more importantly, trusting my body through daily practice. Bio-individuality means that you have a unique make up and with that you have specific needs and respond differently than others to lifestyle and diet choices. By bringing awareness to what makes you feel energized or tired, or what response is most efficient for a certain physical or emotional feeling, you can create the best conditions to thrive.
Through my practice of getting in touch with myself and listening to my body, I can now feel how much sleep I need during different seasons. I know when I am eating because my body is in need of fuel versus eating just to eat. I am learning that my body benefits greatly when I allocate proper rest between workouts. I can very quickly connect changes in diet or stress to my skin health and digestion quality.
By being present and aware of the interconnected nature of your mind, body and spirit, you can grow your own unique relationships to yourself. If this feels new or overwhelming, here are a few simple practices to get started.
1 - WAKE UP WITH A CHECK IN WITH YOUR BODY
Don’t start your day by checking social media - instead, check how you feel and your energy level first. Take a few minutes after you wake up, draw your senses in to observe how you feel after one night’s sleep - do you feel energetic and ready to take on the world or you need a little more rest? Do you feel peaceful, contented or a little stressed?
Then bring your awareness to where you may feel stiff or sore or tight. Knowing how you are doing physically and mentally helps you to navigate through your day better. You can do an energizing stretch and deep breathing. Spend a few moments sending gratitude for your body’s vibrant health.
2 - SLOW DOWN AND EAT MINDFULLY
Sometimes when we eat we go on automatic mode and don’t even look up or pause until we’ve cleaned our plates! This often leaves us overstuffed and in violation of what our bodies need.
Make the commitment for at least one meal per day (perhaps the one you’re enjoying in your own time), to slow down and eat mindfully. This includes smelling and tasting and seeing your food as a whole experience, then chewing each bite around 20 chews. Slowing down gives your body time to fill up and digest more easily then to send the signal to your brain that you’ve had enough.
3 - REST, RECOVER, AND RESTORE
We charge our cell phones at least once per day, but how often do we intentionally recharge our bodies? The more opportunities you give your body to rest, recover and restore, the more you will understand how to feel your best, and when you need to slow down.
Shanghai is a high stress, high energy city, but there are plenty of resources for massage, acupuncture, meditation and more. Schedule in your calendar at least once per week a self care session and explore recharge mechanisms. Developing a stronger relationship with your body is not too different than having a relationship with a loved one - taking time and care to treat yourself is invaluable.
If you want to establish a new relationship with your body, there is no better time than now - the beginning of a new year. Make a commitment to yourself and start treating your body with more patience and love NOW.