I refer to the body as the number one, free clue giver when it comes to your health and wellness. I believe that it is one of the most underrated and useful tools that many of us don’t know how to tap into, and take advantage of.
When I started listening to my body rather than blocking out signals and numbing out clues – my life changed for the better. Why? Because for the first time, I could use my actions and behaviours to get information that I could then use to improve my understanding of what my body did and didn’t respond well to. With this priceless information, I could experiment using a process of trial and error to get answers that I had been needing for ages. What answers did I need? Well, I couldn’t understand why I always felt tired and had low energy or woke up daily with a flat stomach and looked pregnant by the time I went to bed. My skin flare-ups would prove me wrong every time I thought I’d got to the bottom of the triggers, and my mood was pretty up and down despite changing nothing in my routine. Now, I know exactly why and when all these symptoms start and what to avoid in order to prevent them from rearing their head and making my life unpredictable. Life is consistent, and it feels great.
I know what to do to cause an eczema flare up or breakout. I can use that information to either prevent one or both of these things happening or I can choose to eat the trigger food if the momentary, delicious flavour burst seems worth having 10-12 days of skin issues afterwards. It is my choice, and therefore in my control to prevent these flare-ups...To me, this is a mega win especially as I didn’t need to pay for the expensive tests that may not have given me accurate answers as something else in my body could have been out of balance at the time and therefore results would have been inaccurate (eg. Hormones). Yes, sometimes my humanness gets the better of me and said food group gets eaten resulting in the rash, spots or dry skin. I'm getting better at being strict with myself, but there are blip days and there probably always will be. The point though, is that I used the clues my body was giving me to decipher exactly what I needed to avoid if I wanted to change an outcome and can now use that information to improve my quality of life.
How do you find the clues?
You listen, and you feel. Ask yourself how you feel after a meal or certain food… do you feel a bit lethargic and need a nap? Food shouldn’t make you feel that way…
How do you sleep after you eat a particular dish, and what does your skin look like the following morning?
Look for patterns in what you see, how you feel and then keep a record of it all.
It may not be food… it may be the company you keep, the news you watch, the exercise you do or the products you use on your skin. Tune in by quietening the mind (a whole different article) and be aware of what follows when you make a choice. Over time, you’ll realise that your choices deeply affect the way you feel and live giving you the opportunity to take back control over your life. I’m guessing no one wants butter to be in control of their confidence, health or self- esteem... right?
I will warn you that this process isn’t something that can be achieved over night… it is a journey that I don’t think ever really comes to an end. Once you’ve got it ‘down’ your situation might change and you’ll have to look for new clues to use and improve. It is not complicated, though. Start by pin pointing a symptom or feeling that you would rather improve or go without, and work your way back by making note of what you did or ate prior to the feeling. Then... record it. Over time, you will be able to see patterns and you can then prove an inkling by consciously and specifically testing the process yourself. You know yourself best.
Listening to clues and acting on them can be as simple as taking a nap or getting an early night if your body or mind feels particularly exhausted. If it needs to rest and recuperate to fight a cold coming on it will alert you and most likely save you from having to take 5 days off with a terrible flu (if you listen first time round and get the early night).
If you are craving certain foods constantly, you may be deficient in something that food contains.
If you get heart palpitations and feel anxious every time you make your way to meet a certain person then your body may be alerting you to the fact that you get very down after you see that person.
Do your production levels always feel through the roof after you’ve spoken to someone about something that’s bothering you? A clue to communicate more.
If you wake up with spots all over your chin each time you go to the cinema, maybe it’s the popcorn or the detergent they use on the cinema chairs.
If your body comes up in a rash every time you go swimming at the gym don’t ignore it and think it will improve next time because it probably won’t unless they stop using chlorine. Need a nap after lunch every day? Maybe you’re meant to eat your biggest meal in the evening for optimal digestion.
Do you feel amazing after you do a yoga class and sleep better than you have in months? Maybe your body needs to be opened up and stretched more regularly.
Think you get car sick on the bus to work? Maybe it’s the almond milk in the coffee you pick up on the way to the bus stop instead.
The possibilities are endless, and it can seem daunting to begin the process of listening for clues but it is simpler than you think once you get into the habit of asking yourself when and what. If you can avoid feeling ‘car sick’ all morning at work by having oat milk instead of almond milk and skipping on a costly uber because it was never the bus after all… you’ve changed your life for the better by simply listening to your body’s clue system. Don't miss out. ;)