All day, every day, in ways big and small, your body is communicating with you. Sometimes the chatter is a gentle whisper, at other times it’s more like a loud cry for help. The message might be as simple as ‘I’m hungry’ or as blindingly obvious as ‘excuse me lady, your leg is broken’, but it’s the more subtle messages in between that often get lost in translation, or just plain ignored. (Seems we can be quite good at turning a deaf ear to ourselves!)
How to recognise the signs
Becoming more mindful is a powerful way to start tuning in to your needs. Mindfulness simply means paying close attention to how you feel and what’s really going on instead of operating on autopilot and hoping for the best. It’s also about changing your typical response to a given situation, whether that response is an action, a thought or both. For example, if a headache strikes and you would normally reach for painkillers, stop first and consider what is behind the headache. Perhaps a large glass of water, gentle stretching routines and taking slow, deep breaths would zap it more effectively. Longer term, maybe less stress and more sleep would stop headaches from taking hold at all.
In fact, focusing on correct breathing and practising better posture can make all the difference in the world when it comes to preventing or alleviating many health woes. (We know it sounds crazy, but this breathing thing can be tricky.)
Weight management is another area that benefits enormously from mindfulness. When you think about it, weight gain tends to happen when we stop heeding our body’s signals. We may overeat, eat the wrong things, eat when we are not hungry and stop exercising. Along with the extra kilos, we can wind up feeling sluggish and down on ourselves.
Bottom line? When you notice what’s happening, you have the power to change course. Check the below list of questions you can ask yourself to help get in tune to your body’s messages.
Are you tuned in?
• Do I constantly clench my jaw?
• Do my face, neck and shoulders feel tense?
• Am I having trouble sleeping?
• Do I feel bloated or constipated?
• Am I hurting anywhere?
• Is my skin dry and irritated?
• Is my heart racing?
• Am I feeling anxious?
• Do I have trouble relaxing?
• Is my stomach tied up in knots?
• Am I actually hungry, or am I just thirsty, bored, angry or sad?
• Am I making good choices about what I put into my body?
• Do I have any bad habits my body would be happier without?
• Am I getting enough fresh air and exercise?
Notice what happens when you...
• Nourish your body with wholesome foods.
• Question if you are really hungry before eating.
• Stay well hydrated by drinking lots of water.
• Cut back on sugary and/or greasy foods.
• Practise good posture by not slouching and slumping so much.
• Remember to take deep, lung-filling breaths instead of short, shallow ones.
• Become more physically active every day.
• Get enough quality sleep every night.
• Reduce your overall stress levels.
• Surround yourself with positive people and beautiful things.
• Make time for relaxation.
• See your doctor when problems arise, as well as keep up to date with your health checks.