How many times do you tell yourself “just one more episode” or “i need to finish this assignment” even though your eyes are begging you to close them. Growing up you may have been told to finish your plate. Do you still do the same now or do you stop eating when you are full?
In our society, listening to your body cues is not something we are often taught how to do nor is the importance of it stressed enough. Our bodies give us information daily about our physical and emotional well-being. These cues can give us insight into how we are feeling and functioning. Listening and responding to our body cues can help us understand ourselves better and gives us better control over our health. Being attuned with your bodily cues is an important part of self-care and gives us information on how to act. If you notice something feels “off”, let your doctor and therapist know.
A good way to better understand your bodily cues is to start a journal and check in with yourself about how your body is physically and emotionally feeling after an event/activity. The journal can also include how you slept the night before and your appetite/meals throughout the day. Looking at your journal can give you information on the source of that emotional and physical reaction. By using a journal, we can identify what is working for us and what is not. You may also begin to realize where in your body you feel certain emotions.
Stress can manifest in different ways. You may feel more tension in your muscles, experience headaches, stomach pains, or fatigue. Although there are more ways stress can reveal itself, it may be easier to notice a physical symptom than an overall feeling of stress building up. Most times, we are not even aware of how much stress something is causing in our lives. Noticing the first physical symptom of stress or any emotion, gives us a warning that we need to adjust something before our symptoms get worse. Next time you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, see if you can point out some physical symptoms leading up to your realization of a stressed-out state. When I begin to take on too much or life just seems to be a little more hectic than usual, I start to get headaches. It’s easy to let things pile up, but when my physical symptoms of headaches appear, it is impossible to get anything done. My body forces me to take a break because I did not give myself one. Being attune to the messages our body is sending us improves our physical and mental health because we have an awareness of what our bodies need and we react accordingly to it.
Another way we can gain a better awareness of what our bodies are telling us is through a body scan. To mentally scan the body, find a quiet and comfortable place. Taking each body part one at a time, focus your attention there and just observe how it feels. There are many great body scan meditations on Youtube. I recommend this one because you only need about 6 minutes to check in with yourself and notice what cues your body is sending you:
Let your therapist at Works Counseling Center know if you are interested in gaining a better awareness and understanding of your bodily cues.