How Listening to Your Body Can Lead You to Vibrant Health
a 3 Part Blog Series
Becoming more aware of the signals from your body, is the first step in learning to take better care of it. How do we “listen” for these signals?
Symptoms ARE the signals. Big symptoms, little symptoms – that is the language your body speaks. You do not need to be a wellness guru, or a yogi, or meditate for hours every day to listen or tune-in. Those techniques help, but all you need to do to start is bring awareness to the symptoms you feel. A symptom could be anything from low energy, to pain, to skin problems, digestive issues, trouble with focus and concentration, and even bad breath. Of course this is just a small list, but whatever you are feeling in your body, good and bad, is a communication about what is and what is not in balance.
Symptoms are your body “signaling” you to be aware and make adjustments to come back to balance. That’s all your body really wants – to be in balance. What’s even more impressive, is that the body is designed to heal itself by regulating and balancing itself back to health. There is a scientific term for the body’s natural ability to be in balance – homeostasis. The term was coined in 1930 by physician Walter Cannon, and refers to the body’s (or any biological living thing) ability to maintain stability given outside conditions. This applies to individual cells and collectively to tissues, organs and the body as a whole. This process takes place naturally when the body’s systems are functioning properly and working together.
When our bodies need help coming back to balance – or health – they communicate that by eliciting symptoms. These signals start out small and subtle, and when recognized, small, subtle adjustments in your habits (diet, hydration, sleep, exercise, down time, social time) can easily and quickly bring you back to balance. However, what usually happens is these subtle symptoms that pop up are easy to ignore and push aside. So most of us do. I always prided myself on ignoring these minor symptoms – if it didn’t slow me down, then I believed they were OK to ignore. I’ve learned the hard way – as usual – that isn’t the smartest approach.
Ignoring our bodies, by ignoring the symptoms, doesn’t always make the imbalance go away. In fact, Ignoring minor symptoms over time creates stress on the body, which can lead to more symptoms, and chronic health problems – more on that in Part 2 of this blog series. We know that some aches and pains are certainly temporary, and a healthy body can easily handle them without much intervention. However, there are some imbalances, that when left unattended, build on themselves and increase in severity. To get your attention, your body needs to get louder, and so the symptoms get more intense, painful, etc. until you are forced to listen with an injury or illness.
A simple example – Have you ever felt tightness in your neck or shoulders? You’re working away at the computer, you start to get uncomfortable, but you ignore the discomfort because you are absorbed in your work and maybe you have a deadline later in the week. When it’s finally time to go home, several hours later, you notice how stiff your neck feels, or maybe you feel some tension in your upper back. But you’re off again – home to make dinner, carpool kids to activities, eat, clean, bedtime and finally you can sit down for a short while before you head to bed. Then it all repeats the next day. Your body probably gave you a gazillion signals in that time – but you are way too busy to take care of it and maybe even too busy to even be aware. Now it figures if a little muscle tension isn’t getting your attention, then it needs to turn up the volume. So you get the jolt of pain – right at the base of your neck – you are getting increasingly uncomfortable, but you keep going – the deadline is in 2 days. So you focus harder, it’s just pain after all, you can handle it. You can suck it up. But your body is talking – it is going to start getting louder if you will not listen at the current volume. So the next morning you wake up and you cannot turn your head. It is so painful you have to take a painkiller and even that is not helping. Your body finally got through. It will always let you know what it needs and it’s up to you to decide how loud it needs to get before you pay attention to it and honor its wisdom. Your body has an innate desire to survive and to thrive. If we are aware of the subtle symptoms, they will gently guide you to take care of your body before it gets into crisis. If we aren’t aware until our body starts screaming at us through illness and injury, then the road to better health will be a bit bumpier.
In Part 2 of this series, we will dive in to what happens when we put stress on our bodies by ignoring the signals. In Part 3, we will talk about how to reverse the stress response and start setting our bodies up for vibrant health.
Start with just being aware. Just pay attention to anything that doesn’t feel GREAT and know that with some help and guidance and a little training in the language of your body, you don’t have to put up with anything less than feeling awesome. Anyone can learn. Anyone can feel vibrantly healthy. Your body will show you the way. And the staff at Well Within are here to help. Book an appointment or check out some new programs to help you!