It’s easy to become so mental! How do you know you’re stuck in your head instead of listening to the feelings and feedback of your body?
- You start living only by lists
- You feel hurried
- You can’t sleep due to over-thinking
- You can’t recall the last time you ate or went to the bathroom
- You go for hours without truly moving your body
- You experience hurry > joy
- You rush, make mistakes, then rush more to correct the mistakes
- You wake up feeling tired
- If you rely only on strategies
- If you’re constantly playing catch up on sleep or water or food
Sound familiar? You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand. The problem with living and depending too much on our intellect and ability to data collect is that we can compartmentalize our existence and our existence is not solely mental. In fact, the vessel in which we are able to see, hear, feel, provide, calculate and write is our physical bodies. When you start feeling completely detached from your physical body, you’ll start to notice signs of exhaustion and longing.
Your body wants you to back! Your body wants you to hear its needs!
We can often times feels hesitant to return to our bodies because we feel shameful for mistreating them. We work more than we sleep. We eat unhealthy but convenient foods. We indulge in our vices. We don’t wear the right shoes. We skimp on our physical activity. It’s not easy to look someone in the eye whom we’ve mistreated: the same goes for our bodies.
If you’re hearing the call to return to your body, I challenge you to listen: your life, your joy and your work will thank you.
Here are 10 quick and easy ways to return to your body. These exercises can be done within 1 – 5 minutes, daily, and they are free!
- Create for yourself a grounding resource. When we’re talking electricity, grounding protects people and equipment by providing the current a safe path to dissipate. When you’re practicing returning to [remembering] your body, you need a grounding resource to provide yourself a safe path back to yourself. This grounding resource can be as simple as: squeezing the palm of your hand; pressing your bare feet into the earth; rolling while holding your neck. To create a grounding resource for yourself, select a physical place on your body that when you access it, it reminds you to be present in your own body. Make a commitment to yourself that anytime you participate in this action, you will remember to be present in your physical body.
- Drink water & notice it. Sounds simple, right? But we rarely do it. It seems somehow daunting to prepare and carry a water bottle with us. We drink once we realize that we’re thirsty but by that point, your body has already been craving hydration for hours. Without hydration, our brains and our muscles are working less well. Grab yourself a re-fillable water bottle and take it with you. When you feel the urge for coffee to keep you working, ask yourself if you had water at all today? Notice when your body is accepting the hydration. Mentally, notice the nourishment.
- Get physically moving and then feel your heart beating. We tend to see exercise as something on our To-Do lists or a goal to achieve. But exercise is not that; exercise is allowing your body to play! Your body is like an elementary child awaiting the bell for recess: it wants to move! Your body wants to strengthen its muscles, pump fresh blood through your arteries, use its full range of motion in its joints! Grant it that special time and then, for your own tangible experience on entering your own body, feel the immediate feedback by placing your hand on your heart. See? Isn’t that nice?
- Stop tracking numbers and start observing feelings. Do you know how your body feels throughout the day? We have cycles that we experience each day: bursts of energy and productivity and lulls of sleepiness or laziness. Listening to that feedback will tell you when you need more or less of something (and the answer isn’t more coffee). Start to notice when your body is talking; learn how your body speaks to you.
- Prioritize quiet, non-stimulated time. Turn off the TV and phone. Ignore the notifications on your phone. Tell your friends or family, “I cannot be there for that.” You need time to re-set and unplug, otherwise you’re bouncing from one to-do to the next to-do and you don’t know how or why or how well you’re doing it; you’re just charging through and then trying to play catch-up the next day. The most difficult challenges with this one is setting boundaries with others and communicating your need for this time. Practice with the people who care about you first, and then move on to your work colleagues and supervisors.
- Write a letter to your body. Describe for it, first, your gratitude. Health, physical movement, activated senses are all something for which to be thankful. Next, explain why you’ve been away. Identify what keeps you out of or neglectful of your body. Apologize. Then, describe in detail your desires for your body and your promises to your body. I promise to listen to you, feed you, nourish you, challenge you in healthy ways. I promise to not forget you, deplete you, put something else before you, discount you. Acknowledge your role and responsibility for tending to your own vessel. Then say, “I love you.”
- Bend over and touch your toes once a day. Go ahead! It’s OK if you can’t reach them right now! This simple action alone will wake up your hamstrings, release your lower back, and send fresh blood to your brain. You’ll notice feedback from your body right away.
- Massage your feet (or your partner’s feet) after a long day. Our feet make up 25% of the body’s bones, 18% of joints and 6% of the muscles. We put pressure on them often and tweak them at odd angles. Massaging your feet will bring your mind from the top of your body down into the lowest. Plus, massaging someone’s feet is one of the most intimate ways to communicate with your body or your partner’s body: I care about your health, your feel goodness, and you.
- Take immediate pauses [RESTS] when you need them. Sit in your car for a minute. Send a call to voicemail. Let an emotion pass. Your body is doing a lot of work: physically helping you move, think, hear, see, process emotions and communications. When your body needs a minute, grant it a minute! What else could be more important than to give your body a chance to breathe?
- Breathe. Start practicing deep, long, un-hurried breaths. Sit in silence or in nature or with music, but breathe. Focus on breathing. It’s impossible to have an empty mind, so don’t worry if your brain tries to run off somewhere else, but let your physical body breathe. You have time. You have lungs. Let your body breathe.
Our mission here is drop into our bodies multiple times throughout the day. Through observation, through movement, through hydration, through rests. Being aware of what’s happening in and to our bodies is our first step to healing. Your body loves you, love it back.
Sheena Jeffers is a Wellness Life Coach helping clients design balance, boundaries and flourish into their daily lives. Schedule a session with Sheena today and watch your life change!