Listen to Your Body’s Messages
(Adaptation on cover of book, “Holistic Anatomy“, By Pip Waller)
One of the many lessons I have learned as I have gotten older and wiser, and often bonks me over the head when I fail to heed it, is that your body intuitively knows how to maintain balance. It knows when something is not working, needs to shift or needs help. This is when we get some subtle symptoms, or whispers to start. The key is to listen to your body’s whispers before they become screams. This would save us a lot of injury, serious disease and, quite frankly, hassle, but we often don’t trust our intuitive self and choose to ignore the whispers. Another life lesson is that when you don’t take the time to listen, the universe will, somehow, make you. Do you want to ‘listen’ the hard way or the easy way? That is the question.
So what gets in the way of us listening to the whispers? Personally speaking, I would say my internal drive, (I am result oriented), yet ego and convenience are what often turn deaf ears to the whispers. I often hear, “I don’t have time…” to go to the doctor, to slow down, or to cook/eat a meal from clients, family and friends. Again, if you do not create the time, the universe will and, not always in a convenient way.
I have been sick more this past year with colds and flus than ever. I have had a few more physical injuries and “mechanical slow downs” because I was pushing through and overdoing instead of heeding the whispers. Luckily, I started listening when the whispers got a bit louder… I didn’t need the scream. I have reset my eating habits (again), backed off on the intensity of my workouts and have been aware of the needed room for improvement when it comes to sleep! We often get into periods where we are good about self-care and listening to the body’s messages. The stumbling block usually comes when life gets a little chaotic, or deadlines loom, or many people/things are tapping into our energy well. It is actually these times that we need to listen to the whispers and practice good self-care, but… ego, the need to please and succeed can block the message from being received. My brother, a high school teacher in a high achievement NYC high school and my husband, a surgeon, often times get sick on vacation. At this point, none of us are surprised- they burn the candles at both ends, get little sleep and have a great amount of stress in their work. Plus, they both want to please others, which drives them. Once their body goes from stress and doing, to relaxation, the immune system becomes vulnerable and they get sick. Vacation is an inconvenient time to get sick, but the universe will slow them down to reset somehow.
Part of mindfulness is being present in the moment without judgment. This applies to our body- being present and paying attention, on purpose, to the subtle signals our body sends us. This can be as simple as intermittent muscle aches and pains, bloating, GI upset and wavering energy level or more complicated and serious with continual pain and discomfort that does not go away, an abnormal mole, sudden weight loss or gain, or numbness and tingling in limbs. These are our body telling us that something is not right, or something needs to shift. My body lets me know when I am overworking it with fatigue, body aches and illness or injury. It lets me know when I am eating something that does not serve it with the signal of GI upset, bloating and even increased cravings. When I do not head my body’s whispers, it starts to scream. So… tap into your body and it’s signals of health or imbalance. Remember, it is constantly seeking homeostasis- balance. You can catch imbalance and, hopefully, avoid disease and serious illness or injury this way.
The following are some signs or whispers to not ignore from the Mayo Clinic and University of California San Diego Health Center. (Not to cause alarm, but to inspire you in to tune in to your body’s whispers and screams):
- Unexpected weight gain or loss– could be hormone imbalance or Cancer
- Unexpected change in bowel habits: consistency, blood, urgency- Could be dietary sensitivity or cancer.
- Unusual bleeding– Menses change, in stool, in urine, in nose or mouth or vomit. – Could be inflammation, irritation or cancer.
- Chest Pain, Shortness of breath (SOB)- Could be anxiety, asthma or heart disease.
- Numbness, pain, swelling or tingling in extremities– Could be blood flow issues, clotting, pinched nerve or diabetes.
- High and persistent fever- Could be serious infection, sepsis.
- Sudden change in cognition, focus, mood– Could be food allergy, Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), stroke, migraine or tumor.
- Sudden, intense, sharp painful head aches or persistent painful headaches– Could be a migraine, aneurysm or tumor.
- Muscle or joint pain, achiness– Could be overuse injury, arthritis, lyme disease, autoimmune disease or dietary sensitivity. (American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine- AOSSM)
Be kind to yourself, listen to your body messages and practice mindful eating, mindful moving and mindful being. Be pro-active versus reactive and listen to the whispers with your intuitive self. Don’t wait until they become screams.