We often overlook how important it is to listen to our bodies. Often we don’t even understand what it means when we say we should listen to our bodies – and this is because we just don’t do it.
When you are hungry you feel it, that’s an instance of listening to your body that most everyone follows. Another is when we are sleepy or tired and we actually listen and go to bed. However, both of these are often ignored for a variety of reasons.
But, those aren’t the only times that our body tell us what it needs. Pain is the body’s way of telling us it needs something. Stress is another voice from within. Often, however, we get so hung up on the symptom (the pain, the chest tightness, etc) that we don’t stop to consider where that signal is really coming from.
I recently read an article in the Psychology Today blog that talks about How to Listen to Your Body. This article got me thinking about the importance of learning to listen to your body and how often I have ignored those signals.
I’ve had several instances in my life when I was struck down by my body and usually I can figure out what is going on. I’m a very introspective person, so I tend to look inward when situations occur to try to figure what the cause may be.
When I was about 24 I started having a lot of stomach issues. I went to the doctor and he ran several tests but couldn’t find anything. I couldn’t eat anything, except crackers, without my stomach getting upset. I lost about 15lbs over a few months and yet the doctor couldn’t find anything.
At one point he asked me if I was stressed and I told him no. I didn’t feel I had anything to be stressed out over. At some point I finally realized that I did. But, the source of my stress was the last thing you’d expect.
I was bored. I had a job where I did nothing all day, I spent my day surfing the web and getting paid for it. It was getting to me. When I finally realized this and quit my job and returned to a job I enjoyed, my stomach issues cleared up.
About 6 years ago I had someone offer to buy my business. I gave it strong consideration and it really stressed me out. I started having panic attacks and ended up on meds for anxiety and depression before I finally realized what the problem really was. Once I turned down the offer (after finding out it really wasn’t worth accepting anyway), my anxiety issues started to clear up.
Given my past experiences, it was understandable that when I started having stomach issues and strange symptoms in 2008 my first thought was to look at my health and wonder what I could do differently. I started working out more and tried to eat better and work on losing weight. No matter what I did I still kept getting worse.
I’d gotten braces and they were giving me headaches. The meds for the headaches had given me ulcers and somewhere in the middle of that my gallbladder went out. The reality was that my attempts to “fix” myself probably made things worse. The working out only increased the strain on my TMJ and neck issues making the headaches and pains worse.
In 2010 new symptoms appeared. Getting a good nights sleep became all but impossible, new aches and pains appeared and for two weeks straight I felt like I had the flu. From then on random fevers, aches, and pains became a way of life.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and sent to Physical Therapy that I realized I’d somewhere along the way taken on too much and forgotten how to relax.
I was going to school, working, trying to run a girls group and still have time for my husband and household. Since I’ve been in PT I’ve been working on learning to de-stress and relax, stretching techniques, and adding daily walking back into my routine.
I haven’t gotten there yet, my anxiety level is still high and so is my stress but I’m working on identifying what the problems are and how I can resolve them to make my life easier.
It may be that I haven’t yet identified what my body is trying to tell me, but I’m working on it and I will continue to listen until I figure it out. It may just be that my body was saying “slow down” and that’s just what I’m doing.
I tend to take on a lot of responsibility and have a hard time saying no to something someone asks me to do. I’m learning to say no, to stay home when I don’t feel like going out and to do what’s best for me and my body and my household before worrying about anyone else. I’ll get there.Learn to say no, to listen to your body, to do what's best for you. Click To Tweet
2018 Update: Looking back at this post and at my health overall I’ve had a few realizations in the last year.
The bulk of my health issues started shortly after I got married. Too often we can’t see our own lives as we are living them but hindsight… well, that’s closer to 20/20.
I probably should not have gotten married. There were a lot of red flags in that relationship that appeared before we ever got married. But, I had myself convinced that he was the one and it was meant to be.
Unfortunately, a lot of personality differences between us caused relationship issues that created a lot of stress for me. Small things like that he was an extrovert that needed attention, and I was an introvert that needed alone time. And, larger things as well.
Post divorce, my stress is so much lower and overall I feel much better. I’ve also learned how to deal with my stress in healthier ways through Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. That course also really helped me understand how to listen to my body and not to ignore what it was telling me.