You will often hear me say, “listen to your body.” When we feel great, we know it, right? We don’t have to ask ourselves if we feel good! We feel energized, lighter, agile and our mindset is different. When we don’t feel right, we also feel it but may not necessarily tune in to where and why. Our body is speaking to us ALL THE TIME. I want to focus on what I call the whispers and the bigger “disruptions.” When we ignore these whispers, they can easily and sometimes quickly become larger disruptions. When we don’t listen, we are telling ourselves that we don’t matter, we aren’t a priority and everything around us is more important; children, spouses, friends, colleagues, jobs and sometimes even just acquaintances we have difficulty saying no to. We even hope whatever is bothering us will miraculously just go away on its own. While the body is incredibly smart and does handle things on its own, often it can’t, which is why it speaks to us.
Listening to the body simply means paying attention to how you feel when you wake up, throughout the day, after you eat, when you haven’t eaten, or even when you are around certain people or situations. It can be how your body feels but also your mental state. They are absolutely connected! Frequent “checking in” is so valuable in catching these disruptions early and determining what is best for YOU in any given moment or long term. Ideally, we will catch things before they become overwhelming or nearly hopeless problems. Our body speaks to us in every moment; sometimes in whispers and sometimes in screams.
What causes these small disruptions, loud screams and everything in between?
Sometimes it’s simple things like you need to use the bathroom but it’s not convenient so you hold it or maybe you notice that you’re thirsty but you don’t go get a glass of water right away because you’re right in the middle of something. This would be a whisper. Of course, there’s the lifestyle choices like smoking, excessive drinking, staying up too late, sitting watching TV, scrolling on social media for hours or continuing a diet that doesn’t serve us. Many times it’s more complex and involves an unfulfilling job, stressful workplace, family dynamics or toxic relationships. These bigger things can settle into our cells causing inflammation, an unrest, a dis-ease that we may not catch until it’s much louder than a whisper and much more difficult, more painful and even expensive to repair.
How the Body Whispers
Our body gives us signals that usually first show up as soft whispers. The goal is to start listening before those whispers turn into a louder voice and WAY before your body is screaming. So what does a whisper look like?
A whisper may be a general feeling of malaise, indigestion, runny nose, headache, feeling tired, occasional constipation,diarrhea, a crook in the neck. These are small and annoying whispers that can often be remedied by taking a nap, going to bed earlier if you’re feeling run down, getting an extra glass or two of water if you have a headache, (especially if it’s in the lower back part of the skull; that can be a sign of dehydration) avoiding dairy for a week or two if you are having sinus issues, stretching the body after looking down on the phone or computer for too long. You get the idea.
The more you listen to the whispers, the easier it is to self diagnose and determine if what you are feeling is due to a temporary lapse in judgment or routine or if there is something bigger underlying.
When You Are Hearing a Louder “Voice”
The body stops whispering and turns to a louder voice when we don’t pay attention to the first cues that something is off; chronic headaches, sinusitis, daily fatigue, bowel irregularity, chronic constipation or diarrhea, reflux, chronic aches, unexplained rashes, acne, daily brain fog, hair loss, weight gain or loss, etc. None of these conditions are normal and they often inhibit living our best energetic and healthy life.
Uh Oh, My Body is SCREAMING at Me!
This is the point none of us want to get to and yet, we’ve all been there or have watched a loved one experience the “screams.” They look like autoimmune diseases, chronic inflammation, Alzheimer’s, dementia, cardiovascular disease, or cancer. Once the body is screaming at us, it is much more challenging to address. These conditions have inflammation at the root and have been building over a long period of time. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could hear the whispers for ALL of these conditions when they were just a tiny voice? Think of what we could prevent. We are far from preventing all diseases just by learning to listen to the whispers but it’s a great place to start and if it can prevent or put off certain ailments and give ourselves a longer, better quality of life, then we have absolutely nothing to lose by checking in more frequently.
I’m Listening, Now What?
- Keep a journal of what you’re noticing. Track your foods, your activities and notice if there is a trend. Do you always feel bloated after eating certain foods? This can happen with ANY food, even the “healthy” whole foods I so dearly love. Do you always get anxious or feel drained when you spend time with a particular person? Do you dread going to work? Why? What can you change immediately (don’t eat that food again) or start a plan to change (get a new job) so that you make progress. As Tony Robbins points out, we feel happier when we have PROGRESS. Notice, it isn’t perfection.
- Talk to a trusted friend. Choose someone who loves and knows you well and who is willing to be honest but also will hold space for you to just talk without having to try to fix the situation. Sometimes this is just the support or perspective you need to take positive steps of change. Or, perhaps they are in a position to help you find a solution.
- You can tell your health practitioner (doctor, therapist, nurse, chiropractor, dentist, etc.) what you’re noticing, feeling, experiencing to help them diagnose and treat you more accurately. Keep in mind, our health practitioners are human and are trained to help in amazing ways, but without your input, it’s like forcing them to use half of their education, experience, intuition and brain. That isn’t good for anyone. (*Note; if you have a practitioner who doesn’t want your input or is dismissive of your concerns, find another one. They don’t want to work WITH you, they just want to dictate and that is never in your best interest. The best care is when it is a PARTNERSHIP.)
- Ask around or look at research. When I say research, I mean actual research, not just Googling something. While that may be a good place to start, it’s always a good idea to check the source of any information online.
For us to live energized, healthy and joy filled lives, we must become our own holistic health practitioners. Our health extends beyond what we eat. It’s our thoughts, our lifestyle choices, our relationships, our jobs. Everything has the potential to help or harm. We need to ask ourselves the questions and then be brave enough to try new things and make adjustments. Change can be difficult, even when we know it’s good for us. We seldom make progress without at least a little discomfort. So, use the discomfort in your body, mind, heart, and gut as communication to be your own advocate, make adjustments on your own, see what works, what doesn’t and then ask for help if you need it.
Don’t ignore whispers because we’ve got lots going on in our lives. It’s too easy (at the moment), to think, I’m busy, I’ll take care of that later. Often the “later” isn’t a better time after all and holds other undesirable/unwanted consequences.
PS – If you like what you just read, why not sign up below for the newsletter?
PPS – Here’s a short personal story about how something that is considered SUPER doesn’t feel right for me…RAW CARROTS! As a young child, I was pretty much forced to drink raw carrot juice. Why? Because it was “healthy!”😳 Yes, my parents were sort of hippies, I guess? Whatever one would call them, they were WAY ahead of their time. We got fresh carrots (organic before “organic” was a thing!) and juiced them in probably one of the original juicers of all time, composting the fibrous leftovers, OF COURSE! Well, it didn’t make me feel good. My throat and ears got itchy and my nose would get almost instantly stuffy. Even now, sometimes raw carrots bother me so I choose to eat them cooked. (Which in the case of carrots, gives us more bioavailable vitamin A than raw. 😄)