by Kevie Simon on Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
Confession – I am one of those people who never seems to stop. I always have a new project that I am working on, which I usually start before I finish the previous one. I am constantly on the go, working towards an invisible goal I have set for myself that I never actually reach. I have a bad habit of putting myself under so much stress, I will often get physically anxious or sick before I slow down. What I have begun to learn is that my body realizes I am pushing myself over the edge before my mind is aware of it. Before hitting an emotional overload, my fingers begin to tingle and my stomach gets knotted. Next step, my chest tightens and my breathing becomes more shallow. If I haven’t clued in at that point and continue to push myself, I will get physically ill, maybe with a cold or the flu. It’s almost like my immune system just gives up in order to get my attention that something is not okay.
When life gets hard, our bodies tend to be aware of our distress before our conscious minds know what’s going on. What I have often seen is that we will continue to push ourselves even when our bodies are warning us that we are getting close to being overwhelmed. There are many ways our bodies respond to distress: change in appetite, constant fatigue, insomnia, energy loss, headache, muscle aches, shortness of breath, numbness, digestive issues, etc. If these symptoms go unnoticed, they can evolve into greater problems such as cardiovascular issues or even osteoporosis! These are not small issues. Our bodies are trying to communicate to us something very important, and we can learn so much about ourselves just by paying attention to these messages.
While you are reading this, become aware of what you are feeling in your body. I would challenge you to stop and take an inventory of what’s going on inside of you. Close your eyes. Take a few slow, deep breaths. Now, start thinking about your toes. Take a moment to just notice your toes. What do you notice about how they feel? Next, move up to your feet. What do you notice within your feet? Next, move to your ankles and calves. Continue slowly working your way up your body until you get to your head, taking time to pay attention to each body part. Take inventory of what your body is telling you at each point. What is your posture? Are there any muscles tightened? Is your stomach in knots? Is your chest tight? Does your neck ache? Is your jaw clenched? These are just a few examples that may clue you in to what you are feeling in this moment. Your body might be trying to inform you that something is not quite right.
Moral of the story: what’s going on inside of your conscious, and unconscious, mind affects your physical health. The thoughts that cross through your mind every day have a profound impact on your body. If you are constantly stressed, hopeless, anxious, or so on, your body will be affected. Research continues to show that being aware of what’s going on inside of your body is essential to the beginning of becoming aware of what’s going on inside of your mind. The signals our bodies give us are not an accident; they exist to help us survive, and hopefully thrive. So, a simple question is before you: will you listen to what your body is telling you?