How to Listen to Your Body to Get the Answers You Need
The key to looking great on the outside is feeling great on the inside. When you feel good, your skin shows it—and the world can’t help but notice.
The problem is we live in a fast-paced, achievement-oriented society that doesn’t always encourage us to tune in to ourselves in ways that help us cultivate internal well-being.
There’s all kinds of stuff out there that tells us how to be more productive, multi-task like a pro, and achieve more. But you won’t hear many messages telling you how to slow down, tune in, and pay attention to what makes us feel good.
In my own journey, one thing I’ve found to be incredibly valuable is to listen to my body.
In this “information age,” we’re so used to listening to our brains (and everybody else’s!) that it’s easy to forget that the most valuable source of information about our own well-being is right inside us.
If we practice slowing down enough to listen, our bodies will tell us everything we need to know about how to feel good—and that, of course, shows on the outside, making us look more radiant!
Here are a few ways I’ve learned to tune in, and listen to the messages my body is sending me.
If you’re feeling unhappy, check in with your body.
Most of us are more attuned to our emotions than we are to subtle physical sensations. If we’re feeling mad, or stressed, or down, or frustrated, we usually notice pretty quickly.
Like many people, when I feel those emotions, I have a natural human tendency to think about them—to tell myself a story about why I feel that way. Some meditation teachers call this “narrativizing.”
This “narrativizing” can actually can make those negative feelings last a whole lot longer! Studies have shown that most feelings will pass in less than 90 seconds, if you leave them completely alone and don’t tell yourself a story about them.
The next time an uncomfortable emotion arises, try this simple exercise. First, recognize and accept the feeling. Tell yourself: “I’m feeling frustrated and impatient right now.”
Then focus on where in your body you feel the emotion. Is it in your chest? Your belly? The front of your forehead? Your hands? Sometimes, if you just breathe into that place for a minute, the feeling will calm down.
I’ve found that practicing this regularly helps keep me tuned in to how my body is feeling—before those feelings turn into big emotions.
Try to override less often.
We all have to do this sometimes.
We go to the office on less sleep than we should, drink coffee to get through a bleary morning, take cold medicine to keep going when we’re sick and on a deadline, pop some Advil when our neck hurts.
I like to call these “overrides” and they are viewed as completely normal in our production-oriented society. There’s an over-the-counter pill or a caffeinated beverage to help you get through almost anything.
But I’ve found that using overrides can make me less connected to how my body actually feels. And when I lose that connection, it gets harder to make sure I’m cultivating pleasure and supporting my own well-being.
So, in a pinch, I’ll still drink that second cup of coffee when I’m short on sleep, but I try to make conscious choices and only do it when I really have to. And then I’ll try to make sure I get extra sleep as soon as I can!
Make sure you move.
This one is magic. And it’s easy to forget just how magical it is.
Our bodies want to move. They’re built for it. Whether that means taking a walk outdoors, practicing yoga, doing hardcore cardio, or dancing in your living room—our bodies love to move.
When I’m moving more often, I notice that not only do I feel better, but I’m more attuned to how my body feels.
It’s easier to listen to what my body is telling me, because I’m more in touch with my physical sensations and how energy is moving through me.
This movement can take any form. There’s no need to buy a gym membership, unless you feel like it. You could even stand up and jump up and down right now and it would shake things up in a fabulous way! Just keep moving.
What do you do to stay in touch with your body and how it’s feeling? Let us know in the comments below!