We hear the phrase, "listen to your body" getting kicked around a lot these days, but what exactly are we talking about? Listening to your body doesn't mean giving into every craving or sleeping for 16 hours when you're tired. It's about learning how to interpret the signals your body is sending you and using that information to make choices that will lead to a healthier, happier life.
Listening to your body is tuning into your body's signals and learning how to interpret them. It's a skill, and it takes practice. But the benefits are vast.
There are many obvious benefits to listening to your body, such as improved physical health, better sleep, and reduced stress levels. However, did you know that there are also some hidden benefits to tuning in to what your body is telling you? In this blog post, we will discuss five of the most surprising benefits of listening to your body. Let's dive in.
Disease prevention is one of the most important, but often underrated, benefits of listening to your body. By paying attention to early warning signs, you can nip many health problems in the bud before they have a chance to take hold.
For example, let's say you've been feeling tired and run down for weeks. You brush it off as nothing and drink caffeine (re: self-medicate) to maintain your energy levels. But what if that fatigue is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong?
By listening to your body, you can get to the root of the problem and address it before it turns into something more serious. If something feels really off -- like changes in being able to see, talk, walk, think clearly, or communicate, or having chest pain or shortness of breath -- call 911. Don’t wait to see if you feel better. If it’s a stroke or heart attack, you need medical care right away.
My personal favorite working guide on weight management and listening to your body is Intuitive Eating by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. That being said, you don't need to have an extensive knowledge of nutrition or dieting to understand that when you don't eat enough, you feel grumpy and tired, and when you eat to much, you feel bloated and sick.
Listening to your body when it comes to food means that when you want protein, you eat protein. And when you want chocolate, you eat chocolate. You can also determine the quality of ingredients that goes into the protein and chocolate, but overall, your body knows what it needs. And diet culture retrains our brains to believe our bodies' cravings are working against us, and we must abstain from whole categories of foods.
The reality is, once we start giving our body what it wants, we lose the crazy voice in our head that says we need to eat an entire sleeve of Oreos. Essentially, we break the abstain-then-binge cycle. And suddenly, we're eating veggies because they feel good, not because we're punishing ourselves.
Your body is intricately connected to your emotions. In fact, studies have shown that there is a strong mind-body connection, and our physical health is heavily influenced by our emotional state.
This means that when we're feeling stressed or anxious, our bodies respond accordingly. We may feel tightness in our chest or shoulders, an upset stomach, or experience muscle spasms. All of these physical reactions are our bodies' way of telling us that something is wrong.
By learning to listen to our bodies, we can better understand our emotions and what they're trying to tell us. We can then find healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult emotions instead of numbing them with food or alcohol. This allows us to process feelings instead of burying them, ultimately making us more resilient in the whirlwind that is life.
Taking these kinds of healthy actions by listening to our bodies means we increase our ability to emotionally regulate, which puts us in charge of our own emotions and not the other way around.
Our society tends to glamorize pushing yourself to the point of breaking. We overwork, over exercise, over plan, and under sleep. But listening to your body means respecting the hard work your body is doing and allowing it to have a voice.
As author and psychologist Aundi Kolber suggests, "There are truly times when the best, healthiest, most productive thing we can do is not to try harder, but rather to try softer: to compassionately listen to our needs so we can move through pain--and ultimately life--with more gentleness and resilience."
When we can learn to listen to our bodies, we can find more pleasure in everyday activities. We discover new ways to experience pleasure that are safe, healthy, and satisfying. We celebrate our bodies and take necessary time to relax and restore.
Increased trust in yourself
Which brings us to our last benefit: increasing trust within yourself. When we listen to our bodies, we are saying that we trust ourselves to know what is best for us. We are giving ourselves permission to slow down and be present.
We are also acknowledging that our bodies are constantly working hard to keep us alive and healthy, and that they deserve our respect. When we can learn to listen to our bodies, we create a foundation of trust and self-compassion that can be applied to other areas of our lives. You'll be amazed how increased trust in yourself translates to increased trust with others and with circumstances outside of your control.
Zen it up
In the end, we want you to give your body the reigns and see if you can't get to a destination that's good for your mind and heart. We think you'll find that when you learn to listen to your body, everything else falls into place.
What are some benefits you've found from listening to your body? We'd love to hear from you!