How to Listen to Your Body in 7 Steps
On the path to good health and self-care, we hear some of the same advice over and over again.
One of the most common is this: Listen to your body.
But what does that actually mean?
Simply put, listening to your body means paying attention to even the most minute changes in the way you feel, both physically and emotionally. Being aware of what you eat, your mental state and your surroundings can clue you into some really important facts about your physical health.
Fundamentally, our bodies have a slew of impressive mechanisms that sound alarm bells when something’s off.
These warning signs alert us that we’re getting sick, overdoing it at the gym, or not drinking enough water. They can clue us into important facets of our physical well-being, but they’re also closely linked to our mental health. For example, if you’re excessively tired or have stomach troubles, you may be experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety.
7 Ways Your Body Speaks to You
There are thousands of tools your body uses to alert you that you may need more or less of something, but here are a few examples that can help you open up your eyes and ears to the complex language of physical health.
- Through your gut. If you experience frequent diarrhea, it may be an underlying symptom of depression, dehydration, diabetes, or overactive thyroid.
- Through your energy levels. Feeling sleepy? Chronic fatigue is an underlying symptom associated with depression, viral illnesses, hormonal imbalances, and a weakened immune system, among other things.
- Through your muscles. Muscle aches and pains can signify that you’re deficient in certain nutrients, including vitamin D and calcium. Achy muscles are also associated with PMS, viral illnesses, Lyme disease, and an underactive thyroid.
- Through your skin. Your skin is surprisingly sensitive and can serve as a window into your overall health. Chronic acne and stubborn skin issues are also associated with the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
- Through your hair. If your hair has begun to thin or fall out, it may be a sign that you’re pregnant, have underlying thyroid disease, or have anxiety.
- Through your mood. Your body needs certain things in order to properly regulate your moods, such as healthy food and ample sleep, and we all know the body is great at letting us know when we need those things!
- Through your tongue. Experiencing a metallic taste in your mouth? Don’t ignore it! It could be a sign that you’re getting a cold or suffer from a gastrointestinal issue, such as acid reflux.
These are just a few of the ways our body signals to us that something’s off-balance. There are many unique tools it has to drop important hints about the things you need to lead a happy, healthy life. Keep track of these signals and make sure to bring them up to your healthcare practitioner.
How to Hear What Your Body’s Telling You in 5-Steps (Full Body Mindfulness 101)
So, with all of this in mind, how do you actually listen to the things your body is trying to say? Here are 5 helpful tips for staying aware.
- Be Sure to Trust Yourself — You may have all the tools and tips in the world for how to read your body’s signals, but the truth is that you won’t get anywhere if you don’t trust your own intuitions! Remember: Nobody knows your body better than you, and if something feels off, there’s probably a reason for it. In practice, a big part of listening to your body is accepting what it’s trying to tell you.
- Listen, But Also Record — Have you ever met someone who just seemed to be so in-tuned with their body, hyper-aware of how every food item, medication, or emotion affects their well-being? It’s not because they have tools you don’t have! It’s just because they make it a point to record and remember their body and brain’s specific responses to things. This means tracking food, exercise, menstrual cycles, emotions, responses to medications, and more. You can use a variety of health tracking apps to keep track of all this.
- Look to Your Digestive Health — By now, we all know that there’s a very close link between our gut and our overall health. In fact, scientists have connected the dots between the gut biome and pretty much every key player in the body, including the brain. This means that your gut has the unique ability to clue you into facets of your overall health. Your stomach provides clues into every aspect of your health and is often one of the first indicators of mental health issues.
- Identify “Trigger” Foods — Knowing how your body is going to respond to various foods can help ensure that you don’t get slowed down by stomach issues, something that plagues us all from time to time. One great way to do that is to try a low-FODMAP meal delivery plan that helps you identify the foods that may be setting you off. What is FODMAP? It’s a roadmap for healthy eating that eliminates many of the most common digestive triggers.
- Know When You’re Overdoing It — Our bodies have a special way of letting us know that we’re not getting enough of something, especially crucial nutrients like water and fiber. But they can also alert us when we’re doing too much of something, like drinking too much alcohol or eating too many fatty foods (often through regular trips to the bathroom). Listen to yourself when you feel your body asking you to slow your roll. The same goes for exercise and fitness. You know when you have pushed yourself too far, and it’s necessary to respect your own personal limits.
Keeping Your Senses Open
In order to get in tune with your body’s rhythms, you need to be open to hearing, smelling, and seeing them. We’re not saying you should obsess over every little ache and pain, but that you should try to make note of patterns and changes as much as possible. In short, listening to your body is all about trusting your own intuitions and knowing what you’re listening for.
ModifyHealth helps patients suffering from conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), SIBO, and Celiac Disease where dietary modification is a recommended treatment. We are a meal delivery service that prepares and delivers fresh, Low-FODMAP, organic & gluten-free meals directly to your door, nationwide. Our goal is to help IBS patients make healthy eating simple, without compromising on flavor.