|TUNING INTO YOUR BODY|
by Jahnel Bailey, Contributing Writer
Whether you are faced with a health challenge or just trying to make positive changes to support a stronger, healthier you, knowing your own body is essential. In the article "5 Keys to Unlock Your Health”, one of the keys is listening to your body: what it wants, what it doesn’t want and what it needs. Some may have been left wondering, how to do that. Here is some guidance for tuning in to your body.
DO THE BASICS
Let’s put first things first and talk about the elephant in the room. The body needs certain things to function at it’s best. Are you covering the basics? Many symptoms like aches, fatigue, brain fog, low energy may come from not meeting the body’s basic needs. Make sure you are covering basic needs in these categories:
Water: Do you know how much you (individually) should drink every day?
Nutrition: Refined sugar and processed foods wear us down over time. How much of what you eat are things that come out of the ground rather than a box or can?
Activity / Exercise: Are you getting enough exercise / physical activity?
Mental / Emotional: Do you give yourself a break from the daily grind? Do you take time to do things that sing to your heart?
Stress management: All of the items above aid with stress management, but if you have a lot of demands you may need to do a little something extra.
Rest: You may have to make room for rest if you don’t get enough REM sleep. REM is the deep recuperative sleep when our bodies do repair work. Without enough REM, people experience mental and physical effects including irritability, hallucination, mania, and impacts to metabolism
TAKE TIME OUT
That is, spend time with yourself. Whether it’s sitting in silent contemplation or a moving meditation activity, set aside time for you with you. (Hint: If you don’t know much about moving meditations there’s an entire page on this site dedicated to them.) Time with yourself is a great way to get a sense of your unique energy. Find a quiet, peaceful place where you will not be disturbed. Close your eyes (if desired) and focus on the center of your being around your heart space and solar plexus. THAT is the energy of YOU!
YOU CAN ALSO TRY TO FOCUS ON:
Your breath: the length of the inhale and exhale should be about equal, are your breaths shallow (only your chest moves) or are your breaths deep (belly extends out as lower lungs fill with oxygen)
Your heartbeat: is it slow or fast?
Your mind: what are you thinking? Can you clear your mind or are there lots of thoughts racing about?
In these isolated moments pay attention to what it feels like to be at your core. This will help you become more aware of and connected with yourself.
In the fast paced, high tech world we live in, it’s easy to go about activities on auto-pilot. Paying attention to little things can bring a lot of insight about what our bodies need/want and don’t want. This sounds simple and straight forward, but I ran into this myself. I love essential oils for their wonderful fragrance. I loved a special blend of essential oils that I had purchased at a retreat. When it ran out, I went looking for more. I found something that smelled similar that was handmade by a local shop. I was thrilled. The mixture was in a spray bottle that produced a very fine mist. I would spray the mist over my head and let it rain gently down on me. One day I noticed small red bumps up and down both arms. It didn’t take long to realize the essential oil mixture I loved so much was the cause. It was a “doh!” Homer Simpson moment because I knew I had been itching (since I purchased the new blend), but never stopped to connect the dots. Sounds silly, but I’m sure I’m not the only one.
So after eating or applying something to the body (lotion, soap, shampoo, fragrance, etc.) be on the lookout: itching, mood changes, break outs, bowel changes, changes in how something tastes or smells, sensations, stomach bubbling or discomfort, aches, pains, headache.
Any of these symptoms are hints that your body is trying to tell you something.
KEEP A RECORD
After you notice a symptom (or introduce something new), track it. This helps you (and your healthcare professional) to know how frequently symptoms are occurring. You may also be able to identify what triggers your response. Your tracking can be as simple as making a note on the kitchen calendar or a note in your smartphone calendar. (Make that technology serve you!) However, there are apps you can download to your smartphone too. It’s easy to search in your app store for what you might need, here are a few free apps that I’ve tried at one time or another with strong user ratings:
Mood tracker: In Flow (multiple points throughout the day, who you’re with, what you’re doing, graphs to see trends over time)
General Symptom tracker: Health Log (track symptoms, pain level, create your own categories to group related symptoms)
Food / Weight tracker: NuMi (what you eat, when you eat it, how much water you take in, weight, body measurements, physical activity)
Spending time with yourself, paying attention to your body’s responses and making sure you’re covering the basics, will give you great insight. For example, you may decide you need to get more exercise and start walking multiple times a week. You tune in to your body during your walks and notice your joints feel a little stiff and achy. You also notice stomach aches on nights when you’ve followed a walk with a large heavy dinner and the next day you always wake up feeling dried out. You find out you have not been drinking enough water and maybe too much caffeine. Adding activity has lead you to modifying your water intake. In the words of John F. Kennedy “A rising tide lifts all boats!”
The point is you don’t have to be perfect to be successful. Every step you take helps you become more aware of and better understand your body’s messages.
DrStandley.com Contributing Writer
JahnÚl encourages and inspires people to live their best lives. She is a reiki master and natural born cheerleader. Her blog www.alignedandonpurpose.com is dedicated to motivating and elevating people in mind, body and spirit.
**This web site's goal is to provide you with information that may be useful in attaining optimal health. Nothing in it is meant as a prescription or as medical advice. You should check with your physician before implementing any changes in your exercise or lifestyle habits, especially if you have physical problems or are taking medications of any kind.