Learning How to Trust Your Body: Sign, Symptom or Side Effect
At least once a week I have a patient tell me, she/he simply thought that the … fatigue, broken sleep, anxiety, depression and weight gain around the middle … was the way everyone their age felt. Wasn’t it normal to be fatigued/lack energy/feel stressed out? It is hard, when surrounded by people operating on their last ounce of energy, to realize that you all aren’t functioning optimally.
When was the last time you felt 100% – I will usually refer to this as how you felt when you were a kid. Carefree, able to handle anything life sent your way, feeling like your body was indestructible and your mind was sharp.
If you are like most of us, it has been some time since you last felt incredible. The questions that loom are: is what you are feeling in your body aging, signs of impending disease, symptoms of a current (possibly unknown) diagnosis, or a side effect from a treatment?
Learning to trust the signs your body gives you is a big step in the movement toward finding health. Let’s start with the basics:
- Do you have difficulty waking up in the morning?
- Does it feel like your fatigue isn’t even touched by the sleep you got last night?
- Do you have cravings for salt or salty foods?
- Does it feel like you lack energy and tasks that used to be easy to do are now harder/take longer?
- Do you experience lightheadedness when you stand up quickly?
- Does it feel like your recovery from illness, injury or trauma is taking longer and longer?
- Do you feel like your memory is slowing down or that you spend the day in a fog?
These are not signs of aging! These are all signs from the body that things are off track. But don’t despair. No matter how long you’ve been off track, or which direction your body is headed, there are ways we can get your body back to a place of regulation, a place where your body is supporting you, and where you can rebuild.
Many patients ask, how do I learn to trust my body and how do I learn to hear what it is telling me? Personally, I think it’s about being open to listening. Start with something simple like sleep. Check in with how sleep is going – does it take you a long time to fall asleep? Do you wake up at night? Do you wake up around 3 – 4am as though you were wide awake, and it takes time to get back to sleep? Do you have trouble waking up? Does napping make it better or worse?
Take how sleep feels today, and check in again tomorrow or a few days from now and see if it feels the same/different? If the pattern seems constant, start there.
Connect with an objective third party, like a health professional – tell them how you are feeling and what you have noticed. Also tell them anything you have tried and if that made the symptoms better or worse. Having a place for your health professional to start, with symptoms they can track and impact, can help unravel the story of your health and can help make inroads into improving how you feel.
Together you can determine – sign vs. symptom vs. side effect, and what you can do rectify this imbalance in your body.
Note: This blog provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately-licensed health care worker.