How Your Body Keeps Score Astoundingly Better than Your Mind
Have you ever walked through a regular day overwhelmed by negative emotions for apparently no reason? When this occurs, I am annoyed and irritated because I need a reason, a catalyst for the negative energy where one does not appear to exist. Then it happens; I look at the calendar and realize we are weeks away from the anniversary of a painful event. My conscious mind is not thinking about the event, but my body knows it’s coming. The body keeps score even when the mind is busy distracted by daily life. It is time to listen to your body and acknowledge the warnings it may be giving.
Your Body Just Knows
I gained awareness of the mind body connection while grieving a traumatic loss. At first, it was simple. I couldn’t sleep or eat. It was the stereotypical list of symptoms you would expect from a person in a period of active grieving. As time moved forward, things changed. Grief was present, but not at the forefront of my mind. Sadness, irritability, overwhelm, and severe agitation would start to consume me without a catalyst. What is happening? Then the realization, we are four days from a milestone. UGH! Before my mind put the pieces together, my body knew what was coming.
Your Body Is Speaking to You
Grief is not the only time your body shouts louder than your brain. Not to say your brain is not involved, more that the start of conscious thought is missing. At times of stress or overwork, your brain chemistry takes over. It is telling your body to run, rest, or take a stand. The question is, do you listen? If you are consciously focused on the task at hand, it can be easy to ignore the physical symptoms telling you to take a break. In a culture that screams “hustle, hustle, hustle,” it is easy to ignore the direction to stop, rest, and regroup. It may trigger feelings of laziness, when in reality your productivity is slipping as you ignore the screams of your body and focus on the never-ending to-do list.
The Dangers of Chronic Avoidance
Whether it is grief, family life, work life, or trying to balance them all, your body is keeping score. While constantly on the go and struggling with burnout may feel normal, it is actually dangerous to your well-being. Chronic stress causes a list of physical ailments. Your body is screaming at you for a reason. It is in your best interest to listen. You only get one body. It is time to take care of it so it can serve you well for years to come.
What Do I Do?
A one size fits all solution does not exist. Sorry folks, nothing is ever that simple. We are all walking our individual tight ropes. Where I start to lose balance might be 10 steps before you do. It may be 25 steps after you start to falter. That does not make one of us better, it simply makes us unique human beings. Remember, we are human beings, not human doings. Don’t focus all your energy on what you are doing; stop and be present to the being.
Taking the time to be present and listen to your body will help you choose your next move. Maybe you need more movement in your life—take a walk, go for a run, stretch, or turn up the music and dance in your living room. Maybe you need social support—make a call, text a friend, make a lunch date. Is your list too long for a single person—break it down, ask for help, say no to something that you simply do not have the energy to accomplish. Finally, we all need to rest. Rest looks different for everyone. Rest looks like reading a book, watching a movie, baking cookies, planting flowers, taking a bath, or taking a nap. What do you need to reset and recharge?
It’s Hard—Keep Trying
Raising my hand, I have a confession. While this sounds easy in theory, in practice, it is difficult. I have things to do. Look at your life; I am sure you have things to do as well. My default is to go, go, go. Is that fair to this one body I need to keep for my entire life? No! Not at all. It really is not fair to all the people I care for and things I need to do either. When I ignore my body, I am not giving the world my best. So, I will take a moment and listen. Maybe not every day, but at least on some days. My body is keeping score. It is time for my mind to take note.