Learning to listen to your body
When it comes to self-care and listening to your body, many people will quote, ‘my body is a temple’ amidst stifled giggles. And that’s fine. Wellness and the act of cherishing our mind, body and soul is everywhere and to be fair, it can be a little overwhelming.
The thing is, while you may not be ready to jump right into crystal healing and yoga (hey, if you are, that’s great too), your mind and body is something to be cherished. We need to take more care of ourselves.
We need to actively listen to how we are feeling and understand what needs to be done.
When we cut our finger, we clean it up and pop a plaster on. When we’re hungry, we eat. So why, when our bodies are crying out for a rest, do we often ignore it and plough on?
Why it’s important
You may be thinking, ‘I go to the gym and eat well, what more do you want?’
As a society, our interest in health and fitness is growing, and so many of us are getting more active and trying to improve our fitness levels. But this can also lead to overtraining – yes there’s such a thing – and burnout.
After a busy day at work, hitting the gym or going for a run can do wonders for our stress levels and help us unwind. But if you’re going every day, you may be pushing yourself too hard. That niggle in your leg during the run? That’s your body telling you to slow down and take a break. Your shoulder ache? That’s not just your mind – that’s your body telling you to maybe skip upper body day and rest.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the cycle – you find a routine you love and, when it comes down to it, taking a day off can make you feel like a failure. But pushing yourself too hard can result in injury and exhaustion, which will take you out for longer than a day or two.
Of course, it’s not only the physical signs that we should be listening to. In fact, that’s the easier thing to recognise. The more difficult signs are mental. Most commonly, tiredness.
Living a happy, successful life is key for many of us. We’re busy – balancing our jobs, family, social life, fitness, relationships and rare moments of me-time – and so the importance of sleep is often forgotten.
It’s recommended the average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep per night in order to function throughout the day. Of course, we’re all different, so some people can function off less, some need more, but most of us are guilty of not getting the sleep we need.
Working long hours, hitting the gym and socialising can make you feel superhuman – ‘It’s OK, I’ve got this, I can handle it’ – but there will come a time when you can do no more. The bags under your eyes, your lack of energy, your irritability – that’s you needing to take a break.
How to practise self-care
It can sound simple, but putting it into practice can be tough. You may feel guilty for taking the day off purely to relax, but it is essential. Keep going and over time, the guilt will slowly disappear.
Taking a break from everything can do wonders for your mental and physical health. One or two days’ rest will be more beneficial for you in the long run, and not listening to what your body needs can make life tiring and in the extremes, shorter.
Everyone is different and it may take you a while to understand what your body needs, but here are some of our favourite ways to unwind when we really need to rest.
- When you’re tired and really don’t want to go on your run, go home and cook a delicious dinner. Get in your comfy clothes and watch your favourite film.
- Have a pamper evening – bubble bath, face mask – the works.
- Go out with friends for a drink and a good chat.
- Stretch the body – join a yoga class or try online tutorials.
- Have an early night and let yourself sleep in the next morning.
- Do something you used to love, like drawing or calligraphy.
- Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal.
- Practise meditation.
- Book a massage or try aromatherapy.