Do you listen to what your body is telling you?
Listening to our body when we have a chronic illness can be very beneficial. Our bodies are constantly talking to us and telling us if something is starting to hurt. Perhaps it is informing us that we’ve been immobile for too long which is causing us pain. It will tell us if we’re feeling stressed, or whether we’re getting tired. And it will also talk to us about how our energy is feeling. If we can tune in, listen to our bodies and respond to what it’s telling us. It can help us to really look after our health and become more productive at work or in our business.
In this blog, we’re going to look at why it’s important to listen to our bodies. How doing this can positively impact on our work and how to get into the habit of listening to our body on a daily basis. And I’ll also talk to you about a couple of things I’ve been working on that will help you with this.
As we all know, living with a chronic illness can be a challenging experience, and it often involves a heightened awareness of our body and its needs. If we can listen to our body and take the necessary steps to manage our symptoms and maintain our health, then it’ll have a real positive impact on our health.
Listening to your Body’s Signals
If we start to ignore our body’s signals, and then end up pushing ourselves to hard, it can lead to worsening symptoms and a decline in overall health.
We need to start paying attention to our symptoms and recognise when they’re getting worse or becoming more challenging to manage. This can then evolve into adjusting our daily routine, getting more rest or even seeking medical attention if it’s needed. If we can prioritise self care, and take the time to manage our symptoms, we can avoid burnout or a worsening of our condition as well.
Listening to our body is also really important when we’re working, many people spend a significant amount of time at work, which can lead to both mental and physical strain. And if we can become attuned to our body’s signals, this can help us to identify when we need to take a break or adjust our work habits to prevent both burnout or injury.
For example, if you’re working at a desk for a prolonged period of time, and you’re not moving enough and possibly you have poor posture, it can lead to back pain and various different aches and pains in our joints.
However, if we listen to our body, we might be able to recognise when we need to stand up and move around, or adjust our position and the height of the chair. Or it might tell us that we need to do a little back massage or a few stretches.
If we can take breaks to stretch and move throughout the day. This will help to improve circulation, reduce fatigue, and stop having those aches and pains. Listening to our body can also help to manage stress and avoid overworking.
If you started to feel overwhelmed, anxious or exhausted, that’s a good key to know that it’s essential to take a step back and start looking after your mental health. This could possibly involve taking some time out or adjusting your workload to reduce stress levels.
Common symptoms for people living with chronic illnesses can be joint and muscle pain. It’s important to make sure that we aren’t sitting in a position where we’re going to cause more strain on those joints or muscles. It’s also important to recognise if we are looking at a computer for too long, and we’re starting to get eye pain or headaches.
Getting up regularly walking around or stretching or massaging can really help but we have to know first of all, what it is that we need to stretch or massage. By tuning into our body, we can get those signals and then we can really help to make sure that those pains aren’t getting worse.
My painful lesson
When I first started my skincare business, I noticed that I was getting pain in my shoulder. I already had a frozen shoulder in my right shoulder and so I was more reliant on using my left arm. I had started getting twinges of pain going through my shoulder and up my neck.
I had a tight deadline as I had a Christmas fayre coming up, so I ignored it and just carried on. The next thing I knew I woke up in agony not being able to move my shoulder. I even needed my daughter to help me get dressed as I couldn’t even get my coat on. I ended up in the hospital thinking my shoulder might be dislocated because the pain was horrendous and I was unable to move it at all.
It turned out to be acute bursitis due to overworking my shoulder. It meant that I was out of action for about a week while it recovered and my Christmas was a bit of a misery as I was in so much pain. If I had paid attention to what my body was telling me and made adjustments and maybe even taken some time off to rest, then I wouldn’t have ended up having to take a whole week off in order to recover. I promised myself at that point that I was going to start becoming more attuned with what my body was telling me.
Nowadays, when my body starts to tell me something, I listen to what it’s trying to tell me and I make the right adjustments. So, if my eyes are starting to ache, I’ll move away from the screen and look out of the window, I might even have a lie down and close my eyes for 10 minutes to give them the rest that they need. And this can help prevent headaches, or even a migraine from developing.
And if my shoulders or my back start to ache, I’ll immediately pay attention to my posture, and then do some stretches and some massage. Doing this has really helped me to avoid pain and avoid having to take time away from my business. Five or ten minutes spent here and there can help you to avoid needing to take hours or even days off work, if the pain develops further.
When I listen to my body, I know exactly what is going on with it, I’ve become a lot more self aware. And I can react a lot quicker to what it’s telling me. It didn’t happen overnight, I’ve had to train myself to really understand what our body’s trying to tell me. But now it’s making it really worthwhile.
It’s worth understanding and looking at how your body responds to different situations. And then you know how to treat it going forward.
One of my favourite phrases is “listen to your body’s whispers, so you don’t have to hear it scream”. And I believe that that phrase is so very true. Your body is constantly whispering at you telling you what’s going on how it’s feeling. If you’re feeling overworked, if you are sitting with the wrong posture, if your eyes are feeling too strained, you’re getting all these little clues all the time. And if you can respond to them and listen to them, then you can avoid it getting any worse. Ignoring it will result in much more pain and discomfort. Listening to your body is such an important thing to be doing when you are living in chronic illness and when you’re working.
Understanding Energy Levels
Understanding energy levels can also be really important as well. Often when we’re working, we’ll just try and work according to our schedule. We’ll have a to do list and we’ll try and work through that. But our energy levels don’t work in that way. Some people wake up in the morning full of energy, and then they trail off in the afternoon. Whereas other people wake up with very little energy, and then suddenly get a burst of energy later in the day.
If we work against our energy levels then it can cause a problem and work can take a lot longer and might not be of great quality. Whereas if we know what our energy levels are like, and we plan our work accordingly, we’re going to be so much more productive, and the quality of work that we’re producing is going to be even greater. That means that we have to spend less time at work as well.
If you understand your energy levels, and you plan your working day around that, you can work a lot smarter. And you don’t have to spend so long at your desk.
So how do we do that? Well, the first thing that we can do is start to check in regularly with our body and see what it’s telling us. We can look at our symptoms and at our energy levels, and start to see if there are any patterns. We might not always remember to do that, so we could stick a post it note on our computer reminding us to check our energy levels and every time he noticed that we could check in with our body and see what it’s trying to tell us. Or we could set an alarm on our phone at regular intervals throughout the day, for a period of time just to see what how we’re feeling and keep track of that.
There is an Energy Tracker and a symptom Tracker available on my website. I find it really useful to have something that I can tick off to show if I’ve got high medium or low energy and to write down whether I’m experiencing different symptoms at different times of the day. Once you’ve been doing that for a little while, you can start to notice that there are patterns. And once you notice that there are patterns, you can start to plan your work and your day around them. It also provides you with information on when you should be doing self care, when you need to take regular breaks, when would be a good time for you to practice mindfulness. Understanding these patterns and seeing when you have high energy when you have low energy when you experience certain symptoms, what’s causing the high and low energy, what’s causing those symptoms. Once you start to build up that picture, you can much better manage those symptoms and manage your energy as well and then you can plan your work around it. It’s worth experimenting with different techniques and finding what works best for you. But I find that reminding myself on a regular basis to track my energy and my symptoms and then understand what activity is causing them works really well for me.
Managing Energy Levels Workshop
I’ve just recorded a workshop on managing energy levels when running a business. In this workshop, I go through the best way to track your energy levels, and how best to change your working pattern to fit around those energy levels. I also give lots of hints and tips on how to increase energy levels wherever possible. This workshop is available to purchase on my websites at https://www.excelagainsttheodds.co.uk/product/workshop-managing-your-energy-while-running-a-business/
You can purchase the Energy Tracker from my Etsy store. It’s important to really start to understand your body and listen to what it’s trying to tell you. Just set yourself a little reminder, maybe at nine o’clock, 11 o’clock, one o’clock, three o’clock, five o’clock, and see how you’re feeling and what your symptoms are like. And then start to see if you can identify and patterns. Once you’ve done that, you can start to plan your work around it. Just remember, listen to your body’s whispers, so you don’t have to hear it scream and that will help you to improve your health and your productivity as well.