Even in the midst of a global pandemic, many people are busier than ever. This phenomenon speaks to the frantic pace that most of us are accustomed to, as well as to the relentless juggling act of family, friends, work, hobbies, and self-care that we must balance. With so much going on, it is often easy to lose track of how our bodies and minds are feeling.
As someone who perpetually ignored the cues of my body in my youth and wound up with ulcers by the age of fourteen, I have trained myself to listen and respond to the early warning signals my body sends me. Headaches, indigestion, back pain, anxiety, and depression are just some of the ways our bodies may be warning us that something is not in balance and requires our attention.
We must learn to listen to the messages of our bodies. Physical, mental, and emotional communication occurs in our bodies constantly, and the more we overlook or ignore these warning signals, the louder and more extreme the messages are likely to become. A light headache may morph into a migraine. A sore back could lead to immobilization. In the emotional realm, a slight grudge may snowball into resentment, or occasional blues may slide into a dark depression.
Our minds create images and words almost every moment of the day, many of which are repetitive. What story are you narrating about yourself and others? What belief systems are presenting themselves through what you choose to think about? What feelings do you tend to default to? And what are these thoughts and feelings indicating when you stop to listen to them?
Slowing down and establishing a healthy rhythm for your life is one of the smartest ways to stay in touch with what is really going on inside of you. The demands of our bodies and lives vary from day to day, and we can actively choose to respond to these demands in a way that nourishes and respects our true needs.
Even once we’ve established a schedule, it is essential that our physical and mental rhythms don’t become robotic. You will get where you want to go. Practice paying attention to the way in which you move through life, and ask yourself if it’s depleting you or giving you more energy.
There are countless variables that affect our mood, energy levels, pace, and threshold for stress. A few of them include hormones, what we’ve eaten or haven’t eaten, how much we’ve slept, the cycle of the moon, our level of physical activity, and what we’re choosing to think about. With so many variables in the mix, doesn’t it make sense that from day to day the needs of our bodies would differ? There is nothing inherently more valuable about moving slow or fast or alternating between the two. What matters is that our pace reflects the needs of our bodies, minds, and hearts at any given moment.
Many of us have habituated overriding the signs of our bodies or ignoring the thoughts that come to mind because they are not convenient or interfere with our goals. But, as I said, you will get to where you’re meant to be, and can do so in a sustainable way that respects the reality of where you are today. It’s not only okay to change course; it’s appropriate and healthy.
Prioritizing our well-being starts with awareness, so if you find yourself mindlessly going through the motions of the day, pause and take four deep breaths through your nose to reset. Then ask yourself, “What does my body need right now?” Maybe it’s a glass of water. Maybe it’s to laugh or lay down. Honor the truth of what your body is presenting by taking action and responding to its communication. By doing this, you will cultivate self-trust and reinforce the message that you respect and love yourself deeply.
Have an informative week listening to the signals of your body and responding to the messages it is communicating to you, day to day and moment to moment. ☺