I’ve been writing about gifts to give yourself and this month I’m writing about the gift of a happy body.
What’s a happy body? I think of it as a body that can move with ease and has no, or only small, discomforts (those are normal).
I also think that a happy body means you have a relationship with your body. In that relationship, you actively care for yourself. You offer your body what it always needs – movement, healthy food and rest. And you listen to its signals like, I need more water! Then you respond to those cries for help like giving it more water or getting a massage or going to the doctor.
Many of us don’t have this kind of relationship with our bodies.
Much like a long marriage, we settle into habits with our bodies. Maybe you’ve been sweeping things under the rug for a long time. Maybe you’ve given up on exercise. Maybe you don’t take care of yourself because everyone else needs your attention and you tell yourself that you just don’t have the time.
Or maybe you ignore sensations until they turn into real pain. One thing I’ve noticed in my work is that many people only pay attention when pain is screaming so loudly they can’t ignore it, even though they’ve been getting signals for weeks.
All these ways of avoiding a relationship with your body are simply habits.
So let’s build some new habits. How? Here’s a simple 3-step process to building a new relationship with your body: Offer, listen, and respond.
- Offer your body what you know it needs:
- Movement – even simple movement for circulation and joint mobility is helpful.
- Healthy food – research keeps pointing to the benefits of a plant-based diet.
- Rest – good sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being.
- Listen to messages from your body. We can be so externally focused sometimes it’s easy to miss signals from the body. Take a moment each day to quiet your mind for a moment and check in with your body. What’s it telling you? Maybe try learning how to body scan.
- Respond to your body’s needs. When you don’t know how to respond to a body issue, try taking a baby step in one direction (like trying a new lotion for a skin condition) or find someone to help you.
Your relationship to your body is precious. Give it quality attention by offering, listening and responding.