Your body is intelligent. Listen to it.

We all know the feeling of being thirsty or starting to get hungry. Maybe there also have been times your heart has pounded, your stomach had butterflies, your throat got tight, or something felt wrong (or right) but you couldn’t explain why.

That’s your body trying to communicate with you!

With the pervasiveness of Cultural Stress in our daily lives, it’s easy to keep our attention turned outward instead of focusing on our own, internal needs. And because of that disconnect from ourselves, we’ve lost touch with one of our most essential senses, body intelligence, a lesser-known sense that allows us to understand how our bodies feel internally. (Another lesser known sense is proprioception, which is awareness of the position and movement of the body.)

Body intelligence, also called interoception, encompasses awareness of your body, your knowledge about how your body feels when it’s at its best, and the ways you care for and engage your body.

With this knowledge, you can pay attention to the factors that contribute to feeling good and do more of them. You can also be attuned to your body’s signals that something is “off.”

We often have physical sensations that something is amiss, but we ignore them and hope they go away. But by becoming more aware of the effects that certain foods, lifestyle practices, and stressors have on your body, you can practice that which what makes you feel good and reduce or eliminate what doesn’t. Learning to listen to the sensations and feelings that come from within is now more critical than ever. Quieting outside noise and turning attention to what we’re feeling can guide us in improving our physical and mental health.

Most of us can easily recognize when we’re hot, cold, tired, hungry, thirsty, or in pain, but many of us have learned to ignore these signals, or to mask them—by drinking coffee, rather than sleeping, for example, or taking a pain reliever, rather than addressing the cause of the pain. And few of us are as aware as we could be of the many ways our body tries to communicate with us so that it feels and performs at its best.

Here are some body awareness questions to ask yourself:

  1. When does your body feel its best? When does it feel its worst? What do you know about the “why” of these two states?
  2. How does your body tell you when something is wrong? List as many signals or symptoms as you can.
  3. How do you usually respond to these signals? (Ignore them; make immediate adjustments; seek medical advice or attention only in an emergency?)
  4. How might you choose to listen more closely so that you can respond more appropriately? (Suggestions include conducting a daily internal “body scan,” journaling, and stopping to reflect on possible influences whenever you feel particularly bad or good.)

Better body awareness can help you build healthy lifestyle practices that are as individual and unique as you are. For example, better body awareness will attune you to food sensitivities or allergies (does caffeine give you a headache, are you lactose intolerant, does wheat make you feel bloated, do certain foods cause your herpes to flare up), help you navigate pre-menstrual symptoms, get enough sleep at night, avoid situations that aggravate your eczema, and find an exercise routine that makes your body feel energized and alive.

Better body awareness also supports positive mental health. This is because body awareness contributes to many psychological processes, including anxiety and nervousness (sweaty palms, distressed stomach), fear and panic (increased heart rate, shortness of breath, muscle tension), social ability (feeling at ease around people), eating disorders (which may be characterized by overly acute or disrupted interoception), depression (due to suppressed ability to feel internal clues or respond to external stimuli), and even positive emotional states like euphoria or love. (As I often say, “Make your heart happy and your skin will glow!”)

Knowing how situations and events make you feel physically can help you better regulate emotions and know how best to respond. It is said that “The body doesn’t lie.” If your body is telling you something isn’t right, it’s good to give it at least as much attention as we do our minds, which are masters of rationalization. Understanding our body’s signals helps us make sense of our experiences and allow our body’s response to shape our behavior.

So, how do we know when our bodies are speaking to us?

That’s a great question! It may seem overwhelming to try and reconnect with yourself after so much time spent focusing outward. Try these suggestions to help identify your body’s intuitiveness –

  1. Be present in your body. Give yourself permission to take a moment, close your eyes, relax, and take deep breaths to pull your focus inward.
  2. See if you can be aware of your heartbeat without putting your hand to your chest. Can you count the beats?
  3. Now focus on your breathing. What is a normal rate of breathing for you? How does it feel when you allow yourself to breathe more slowly and deeply?
  4. Scan your body for areas of tightness or tension. Where do you tend to carry it: your jaw? Your shoulders? Your neck?
  5. Think of something that is not true for you (for example, that you hate someone you love). Observe your body’s reactions as you repeat this to yourself and note the types of sensations you feel. This is your body reacting to and rejecting your statement.
  6. Now think of the truth. Repeat it a few times and see how differently your body responds. Note these feelings as well; this is your body’s ‘yes’ response.
  7. Open your eyes, take a few more deep breaths, and reflect on what you felt. Did you learn something new? What other things is your body trying to tell you? Maybe try journaling your experiences to help you learn more about your body’s way of communicating.

Spending time listening to your body can lead to greater knowledge of its language. Once you understand it, you’ll better understand yourself. You’ll be able to identify signals when something is wrong and be able to better help protect your physical and mental health.

Reposition yourself at the center of your life by tending to your body, your mind, and your spirit.  

This is what I mean when I say, “Become yourself.”

Our bodies are our closest lifelong friends and can be great teachers if we let them. Learning to listen to our bodies can help us make decisions that align with our highest good. Building that connection with your body may take some time, but it is vital to Modern Wellness!

Give yourself permission to…listen to your body!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider, who should also be consulted with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.


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