I was interviewed by The Vitamin Shoppe to give my thoughts and top tips on staying in tune with your body. Here is the full article…
We have so much separation from our bodies these days that it almost feels like we are just driving them around in the same way we do our cars! We often delineate mental health from physical health, but the truth is that we are one organism and every single one of our systems is interconnected. So being in tune with our bodies, being ‘in’ our bodies rather than in our heads, can give us more joy in every aspect of our lives, from finding joy in movement, to taking pleasure in a delicious meal, to reducing stress through scent, touch, massage or meditation.
We’ve all been there when we’ve been doing a thousand things at once and dropped something, stubbed your toe, or shut our fingers in a door (this happened to me just a few days ago), and of course this risk is increased if you are spaced out in the gym or running next to a busy road. There is the simple aspect of being aware of your surroundings, but also if you are stressed out or thinking about a million things your proprioception (the awareness of our bodies relationship to the space that we are in) will be compromised.
This sounds like it should be easy to do, but our modern world and all the distractions make it so hard! But even just the simplest of strategies can really help – for example no phones or screens of any kind whilst eating, and not looking at your phone whilst on a run or in between sets in the gym. Once we have eliminated some of these external distractions, we then give our body the ‘attentional units’ to really see and taste our food or feel how it feels to have our lungs work harder or a muscle to grow stronger. Sometimes I’ll even take a stress relieving supplement such as New Chapter’s Ashwagandha Force before I work out – rather than making me feel sleepy it actually helps me to clear my mind and feel calm, but focused.
Maybe the first question to ask is am I feeling hungry or am I just trying to ‘feed’ another need – am I bored, tired, or just looking for distraction. If it is hunger then build your meal or snack by starting with the healthy elements – veggies, great proteins and healthy fats and find healthier options for what it is you are craving. If its crunchy chips and dips, then try veggie sticks and salsa and guacamole, or dark chocolate covered almonds instead of sugary candy. Sometimes we crave foods that contain certain vitamins or minerals that our bodies might be missing, so we should aim to eat a diverse diet, and supplement with a great multivitamin such as New Chapter’s One Daily Every Woman’s Multi Vitamin.
If you are feeling super sore and not recovering fully after exercise, or you are finding that you do not have enough energy to get through the day, then it’s time to take a rest day! If you are not sure whether you should work out or not a great rule of thumb is to just get started, and if you feel more energized 10-15 minutes in then keep going. If not, it’s probably better to just stretch or foam roll to give yourself some recovery time.
I truly believe the first step to tuning into our bodies is to eliminate other unnecessary distractions such as our phones, social media and TV. We cannot get in touch with what’s happening internally if we are constantly being bombarded by ‘noise’ from the external world. Even something as simple as banning screens (phones, laptops, TV) whilst you eat, or before you go to sleep can be extremely effective. Then I like to use breath-based meditations and place my hands on my stomach or ribcage to feel my breath, or even just place my hands on my heart to feel it beating to connect my internal to my external.
Want to know more about how I manage stress and anxiety on a daily basis? Check out this blog post.