Do you Listen to your Body?

“Listen!” She said. And so she did. She listened hard, but what she heard… was not a language she was familiar with.

Listening involves paying attention to words, facial expressions, and body language, as well as paying attention to the thoughts that you are having as a reaction to what you are hearing, or what you think you are hearing. Doing all of these things, all at once, is not a skill that comes easily to everyone.

But what if what you have to listen to is not coming from another person but coming from your gut? That’s a whole other type of soft skill!!

Your body communicates with you all the time, the language it uses is the most complex of all languages. You have plenty of experience with it, but most of us have never learned how to truly listen to it. It has therefore, become a background noise that we can easily ignore. To listen to your own body, you need to learn to pay attention to bodily sensations, emotional shifts, the colour and consistency of your stools and urine, and then learn to understand the meaning behind your observations. The longer you’ve gone without listening to your body the more it will require that you put on a lab coat, grab a journal and pretend to be a scientist who is studying a new specimen through trial and error.

It’s very similar to when a new mom learns to interpret her baby’s cries and whines. If she never learns to listen and understand the meaning behind each differently-pitched noise, she will always struggle with the frustration of not knowing what her baby truly needs. But when she learns that a cry doesn’t always mean “I’m hungry”, it’s the beginning of a collaborative dance that leads to the deepening of a life-long relationship.
Your relationship with your own body is one that you cannot divorce from, the sooner you learn to listen to it with pure curiosity, love and respect, the better your life will be.

Your body is constantly communicating with you. A headache, for example, is not something to be suppressed, it is a sign of unmet needs.

Practice Tips:

  1. One of the easiest things you can do is pay attention to the smell and colour of your urine.
    If it has any smell at all (and you have not eaten asparagus or overdosed on supplements), and it’s not 90% transparent, you know you need to drink more water. Once you are confident that your body is well-hydrated you can tick off one thing from the list of needs it might be communicating about.

  2. Continue to build your self-confidence in your ability to listen to your body by keeping a log of when you tend to feel a drop in energy or when you feel your stomach is bloated.
    The same goes for acid reflex and headaches. Is there a daily pattern? Is the pattern linked to your menstrual cycle (if applicable)? Does it matter whether it’s a weekday or a weekend?

  3. If you have trouble sleeping, notice whether your mind is overactive or your legs are tense.
    This will give you clues as to what your body needs.

  4. Be aware that humans have 6 different hungers.
    Each hunger is a form of communication. A growl in your stomach, for example, can mean several different things. It could be hunger for nutrition, it could be empty-stomach hunger, or it could be that your digestive system is working extra hard to extract nutrients from a mix of foods and non-foods. Stay tuned to next week’s reminder for a complete list of the 6 types of hunger.

The first step is paying attention. The next step is learning to interpret your observations. It’s important that you first become proficient at the first step, so focus on mastering the art of paying attention. Once this becomes second nature you will be well on your way to becoming fully bilingual (or trilingual as the case might be).

Have a smarter day, a smarter week and a smarter life,
Ginny Santos, your holistic coach.

PS: If you like getting these reminders and you know someone who could also benefit from them, please invite them to sign up.

A love note from your future self:

You probably know that learning a second language later in life can help prevent many forms of dementia. Well guess what? Learning the language of your own body, can not only help prevent dementia, but can also help prevent all sorts of other issues, and it’s not as hard! The sooner you start the better.

Give it a try right now by pausing to scan your body from the tip of your toes all the way up to the last hair on your head. Just notice without judgement. Allow yourself to listen deeply and intently. Thank you for being curious enough to listen to your own insides.

Love, from your future self

Disclaimer: The content contained in this blog is for educational and inspirational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health care professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice because of something you may have read on this blog.

Dr. Anke Verlinden is an award-winning clinical haematologist at the University Hospital of Antwerp in Belgium. As a senior staff member, she specializes in treating patients with acute leukemia, guiding them through the process of stem cell transplantation. She initiated a project on the effects of mindfulness meditation on the immune system function and quality of life of cancer patients in 2019 while also deepening her understanding of the role that food plays in our health and wellbeing.

Anke is the mother of three kids, one of whom was born with severe heart disease. This, combined with the increasing number of questions from patients on the possible effects of nutrition and lifestyle on their healing process, gave rise to several years of study and experimentation in areas that are not covered in medical school, plus a nutrition science degree from Stanford Medical School and a certification in Functional Medicine. She is now also a WILDFIT certified coach as part of her effort to help patients recover better and more quickly from cancer treatment.