Turning inwards – how we can listen to our bodies better

I talk quite a lot about self-awareness here. It’s pretty much the foundation for building up a self-care routine and feeling well, both physically and mentally (in my eyes).

I realised recently however that I haven’t talked much about listening to our bodies and those physical signs that we need more of something (or less of it). This came to the front of my mind recently when I noticed my anxiety peaking for what felt like no reason.

I looked back at my journal for the last year as I tend to note when I feel anxious and spotted a pattern. A lot of the anxiety spikes were around my period. I also noticed that being tired was a huge trigger for me.

All of this made me think how easy it can be for us to ignore the signs our bodies send us, then act confused when we get ill, feel anxious or reach breaking point.

FXT10085 - Kat Nicholls

Photography | Elle Narbrook

The one time I always think I am pretty tuned in to my body is, ironically when I’m due my period (let’s just pretend I didn’t miss the link between this and anxiety spikes!).

I know that when my period is going to come up, I’ll need chocolate in the house (obvs), I’ll need to schedule in more rest, I’ll need to stock up on painkillers and be ready to apologise to Dan at any given moment (PMS is real, guys).

But then I realised there are actually quite a few other things I do that help me listen to my body better, so I thought I’d chat about them here and share them with you.

Note physical symptoms in a journal

This is so helpful for linking together symptoms and triggers. Try and note daily how you feel, how well you’ve slept, even what you’ve eaten – notice anything? Look out for patterns but avoid self-diagnosing. While it’s great to do some self investigation, speaking to a doctor is the only way to determine what’s really going on (and trust me, this journal will be helpful!).

Get to know your physical warning signs / triggers

I know my warning signs for stress like the back of my hand. Headaches, struggling to sleep, general fatigue. Once you get to know any warning signs or triggers…

Have a plan in place when these come up

Know what to do. This will depend on the situation, but if we’re using stress as an example, when your warning signs pipe up – how can you react? Can you book a day off? Plan a self-care evening? Look at the wider picture and un-pick what’s making you stressed? Do you need to go to your doctor or tell someone at work what’s going on?

body scream quote

Have a physical practice that encourages awareness

Meditation can be great for building up self-awareness, but I think having a physical practice is important for staying in tune with your body. For me that looks like yoga. When I’m doing yoga I can feel where my tension is, I can tell exactly what my body needs.

For you, it may be going to the gym, running, going for a walk – even Tai Chi. Anything that gets you out of your head and into your body.

Check in at least once a day

I journal in the mornings and before bed. During my night-time journaling session, I write up how my day’s been and check in with myself – how am I feeling? What was the overall vibe of the day? Did I feel good, energised? Did I feel exhausted? This gives me an opportunity to listen to my body, something we so rarely give time to.

Don’t be afraid to go to the doctor when something out of the ordinary comes up

As I mentioned earlier, it’s so important to see your doctor if anything comes up that’s out of the ordinary. The plus side of being more in tune with your body is that you’re more likely to notice when things aren’t quite right. If this happens, go and get checked over, there’s never any reason to risk your health by putting appointments like this off.

Our physical and mental health are so intertwined, it’s important not to discount the effect our physical health has on how we feel mentally (and vice versa).

I hope this quick post gave you some ideas for improving your connection to your body and if you have any other suggestions I’d love to hear them, please pop them in the comments below!

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Turning inwards: How we can listen to our bodies better

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