Learning How to Trust Your Body: Sign, Symptom, or Side Effect
There are a number of healing textbooks entitled Messages from the Body, each sharing its wisdom on what particular signs in the body translate to a particular problem for the patient. Sometimes these books are amazing in the ability to hone in just where you need to look, other times, they are maybe not as specific.
What I do take away from these books is the need for each of us to get to know our body and understand what it is trying to tell us at any given time. When I tell my patients, YOU will be able to tell when things are shifting, when our treatments are having an effect – they often look at me with one eyebrow cocked upwards.
As much as I want to be the person that tells you things are shifting and you are getting better, the person who really knows best is yourself. Training yourself to listen to your body takes time, and it takes the ability to slow down and listen.
What does it really mean to trust your body?
On our initial intake we often run a battery of tests on our patients. When they walk through the door, our patients are incredibly disconnected from their bodies. There are layers of drugs, environmental toxicity, and stress that are covering up what is going on inside. Our goal in our first visits is to dig in deeply and quickly to help identify what is going on, and what layers we need to peel back to get at the core issues.
I would love to gently work with my patients to reveal this root cause, but lets be honest everyone wants to be better yesterday, and if I take too long, my new patient will be on to the next doctor before we have even made much progress.
That being said, once we have established a trusting relationship with one another, I help my patients to learn how to trust what their body is telling them. Laboratory testing isn’t the only method by which we can ‘see’ the body.
This is where knowing your body comes in. So how do you start to get to know it?
I recommend to my patients to keep a copy of one of their questionnaires they filled out when they came in, or to journal how they feel each day for a week. Set it aside, and each month return to it. Read it over and note what has changed and what is the same? What is better and what is still lingering?
When you start to become familiar with the signs of your body you will soon be able to tell me which vitamins work, and which ones don’t. How you feel after a good nights rest, and when your bowels change.
Another method to track is to use a diet diary – a tool that encourages you to track the foods you are eating and note whether they are making you energized or fatiguing you. How long do you feel this way? What kind of symptoms do you experience – mood, pain, bowel upset, happiness, etc? The more things you track (such as water intake, energy, stress levels, appetite, sleep patterns), the better you get at recognizing what is helpful and what is harmful to your body right now. Being more conscious about what taxes your body helps you also know what makes it feel amazing.
There are an infinite number of areas you can observe in your body to help you determine how it is functioning on a regular basis. Ultimately, with whatever tool you use, you want to be able to identify what keeps it moving forward and what brings it down.
One (or many) of these approaches may speak to you, or perhaps you have your own method to know how your body is reacting to what is going on around it and to what is being put in it. If you are feeling disconnected, the best thing to do is simply try one of these approaches and start paying attention to how you feel and how your body reacts. It takes one day at a time to build trust, so start today.
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.
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