‘Listening to your body’ is the first in my Nourish series, which will be looking at ways you can nourish your mind, body and soul. It felt important to talk about listening to your body to begin with as it helps to guide you to know what you need.
Whilst I was teaching full time, I found it very hard to prioritise looking after myself as it was an all-consuming, stressful and demanding job. After getting constant bugs and awful pain and stiffness in my joints, where I could barely dress myself or hold a pen, I saw my doctor. However, after investigations and blood tests showed nothing out of the ordinary, and despite my husband’s nagging, I just kept on going, trying to do the best job I could. I simply tried to just ignore my worsening health as there seemed to be no cause or solution.
Unfortunately, my body had other plans and came to a grinding halt, where I couldn’t get out of bed for months and I was finally diagnosed with the auto-immune condition – Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s very easy to blame many different factors on my illness and obviously things like your genetics and family history may play its part. However, from my place of wellness looking back, I can see that my body was screaming at me to slow down, take care of myself and reduce my stress levels. I just chose not to listen.
It has been a long and slow road back to wellness but one of the greatest gifts I have learned from this illness is to listen carefully to my body, both in what it is trying to tell me and what it needs. I have learned that when I listen to the whispers, I can take action and stop my body feeling the need to scream at me. I find the screaming tends to result in something physical with me – such as short-term pain, fatigue, a headache, insomnia or a cold as this is what gets my attention! After a while of checking in with your body, you will start to recognise the signs it is giving you.
The actions your body needs will be different for everyone as we all have varying needs but they may involve getting more rest, eating more whole foods and less processed foods, drinking more water, reducing sugar or caffeine intake, meditating, doing yoga, addressing causes of stress, getting more sleep or finding a creative outlet. Mine often revolve around needing more rest, reducing any short-term stress and finding creative sanctuary in my art.
I really hope to inspire you to take care of your mind, body and soul to help you be in charge of your own health and wellbeing as good health is priceless. I often have to remind myself that self-care is not selfish – it is vital and the only person who is responsible for looking after me is me. I am also no use to anyone if I am thoroughly depleted. Throughout this blog series, I will be looking at different ways we can nourish our mind, body and soul.
How can you to start making a little time each day to listen to what your body needs and take action? Be proactive – don’t wait until you have to be reactive. Drop busy as a badge of honour and fall in love with looking after yourself!
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