How to Listen to Your Body’s Health Signals

Listen Vs. Ignore - Toggle SwitchHave you ever listened to your body whispering, talking, or shouting to you? Did you know that our body is giving us the most valuable health information through signals? Body signals speak volumes about what ails us. They are cues and alert us that something is off-balance.  The problem is that many of us don’t recognize the warning cues or brush them aside: “No pain, no gain!”

Thirst , hunger or fatigue are a few of very basic signals. They are easy to note and to do something about. But being attentive and listening to the more subtle cues requires a  conscious effort to get to know our body better.  Each person is unique; and so are their signals.

Mark Sisson says it well: “The body has – and shares – its own brand of wisdom. We’d do well to heed its cues before it smacks us over the head with a club.”

How to Fine-Tune Listening to Your Body.  bigstock-time-to-listen-Listening-to-i-21347342

Example #1:

Your activity/exercise routine works well for you. You have adjusted to a fairly healthy life style and your overall nutrition is reasonably balanced. It’s ok to sidestep at times but you know how to get back on track because you have become addicted to the results: good energy and feeling well.
During this balanced state of health your signals are mild and you will hardly, if at all, note them. You almost automatically respond to your basics what you need. This is a perfect health state to take an inventory of your whole body from head to toe. you may be surprised what you notice.  

Tips:  Take 15 minutes and concentrate.  Ask yourself: What does my body feel like right now? What is going on right now? How is your mood? Are you thinking clearly? What is your best time of the day? How is your neck? How well can you move it? Your shoulder? Your arms, legs, and feet? Your stomach? Your muscles? What makes you feel good? What is your energy like? What has your body been telling you lately? Is it hard to listen? Is your waiste a bit too tight?

Take notice of each mild signal: e.g. flabby muscles of your arm when you touch it; or you note slight discomfort when you raise your arm. What do these tell you? Should you adjust your exercise routine a bit? You will know the answers better than anyone else.

Example #2:

One day within seconds your life changes. You trip and break a leg or hip or arm and your daily routine is thrown off: pain, strong medications, interrupted rest, change in appetite . . . you get the idea. Your body is off balance for weeks or months and you are bombarded with shouting signals.  During this severely off-balance state you pay close attention.
You do everything to get better and celebrate your recovery. You enjoy a good night’s sleep again, your appetite has returned and life is slowly getting back to your accustomed routine except  your exercise/activity regimen yet because of your Dr.’s advice. Your shouting signals have quieted and your attention to listen to your inner voice diminishes or stops.

Do You Realize Your Body is Still Talking to You?

Throughout the healing process, your body has gotten used to the needed but also comfortable rest.  Now It resists to be pushed and moved again with some  vigor. It is harder to get up from the chair. You notice the effort it takes to climb stairs.  You easily feel you have to catch your breath. Your body is beginning to make noises again and whisper to you: “I don’t like being pushed around! Or, I need a glass of water; or, don’t move so fast yet; just move my arms and legs 10 times . . .”

If you knew your body well before you had the sudden health change, you would know better than anyone else what is going on. For instance, all the signals could be because of your long inactivity. Or, a lack of proper nutrition, medication effect, or you simply have neglected to drink enough water.

Tips: Before you resort to any quick fix; e.g., medication, take a quick inventory, listen to your signals intently, and you might hear your inner voice whisper to you what your body needs.

Example #3

Consequences of Not Listening to Our Body Signals.

After recovering for nearly four months from two surgeries: shoulder repair after a fall and abdominal surgery, I yearned to return to my prior energy level  and was mentally and physically ready to resume the water aerobics class and join the group.  We had splashed together for over two years. I gave it all and pushed my body to the max: jumping up and down, side to side . . . for one hour. I was showing off to the group that I am back healthy again but totally ignoring signals from my back: a beginning slight spasm. I was in a “show off zone” and kept jumping in full ‘throttle.’ The price?

After I got home, my body screamed: “Didn’t you hear my warning signals?” Why did you ignore them?” My back had transformed into a stiff board. I could neither sit, stand nor lie down.   I knew better than to ignore a body in recovery and resting mode for so long. It needed to slowly ease back into exercise mode with gentle movements in short intervals.  The slight onset of back discomfort escalated to severe spasm I could have prevented, had I listened to the body signals.

How to Listen to Your Body, Hear and Note the Subtle Signals.

1.  Be sensitive and alert when changing any habits or making life style adjustments no matter how small and ask yourself three questions:

⦁    How did I feel before a change – discomfort, well, sluggish, upbeat, pain, dizzy . . .
⦁    How did I feel shortly after a change – the same, clear-headed, slight pain, tingling sensation, tired, pain, refreshed . . .
⦁    How do I feel now, a few days or a week later – no change, more energetic, tired, more hungry, increased or less pain . . .

2.  Use common sense while listening to subtle changes.  In example #3  I ignored any common sense and subtle signal. You cannot force a body to perform or an engine run faster than the energy or fuel reserve allows.

3.  Take five minutes here and there at any time, regardless in what state of health your are or wherever you are – home, office, car – and ask yourself: “How does my body feel right now?” “What is it saying?” Concentrate on different parts.

No matter how skilled and confident we become in listening to our body, we can never perfect it. It ALWAYS requires a conscious effort! But if you make that effort, the reward is that your body will thank you with less pain, discomfort, and a feeling that you are in control of your health.

A few suggested readings:

The Inner Voice Speaks Through the Body. Whooz Voice blog.

Listen to Your Body For Balance and Health. Blog

Listening to Your Body | by Mark Sisson; Mark’s Daily Apple

Just Listen! Your Body Is Speaking to You   By Deepak Chopra

About Ute Goldkuhle

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