During this quarantine and spending so much time on my own at home, I began to pay attention to my relationship with my body, and just how important it was to listen to my body and give it what it needs.
This, to me, meant using positive affirmations, establishing boundaries, and releasing all feelings of guilt we’ve been taught over the years about what we should or shouldn’t do, and truly look inwards when it came to making decisions for ourselves. After all, we are all different and unique beings living out different journeys, there’s no one size fits all.
“And I said to my body softly, ‘I want to be your friend.’ It took a long breath and replied, ‘I’ve been waiting my whole life for this.” -Nayyirah Waheed
Here is how I learned to love and listen to my body and give it what it needs:
1. Respect your Body
Listen to what you say to yourself and the narrative of your self-talk. Do you constantly say phrases that sound like this: “I hate my _______” or “I could never _______” or compare yourself to others around you and on social media? Every time you say something to yourself, your body finds reasons to support that statement, speaking it into existence.
Use positive affirmations and replace your negative thoughts with uplifting ones instead.
Instead of “I am going to gain so much weight during quarantine”, instead, think: “I grateful to be safe at home, food is keeping me alive, and it’s okay if my body changes during this uncertain time. My body is doing its best.”
Here are some positive affirmations that can help foster a loving relationship with your body:
I love you exactly the way you are
Thank you for working every day to keep me alive
I honor you for telling me what I need in every moment
I promise to listen to you and give you what you ask for
I will treat you with love and care
2. Listen to Your Body
Your body will let you know when something is right or wrong, so listen to what it has to say. I am a firm believer in this because of what my own body has taught me. This is seen clearly when our body rejects certain foods that are uncooked or don’t agree with our bodies (as a lactose intolerant girl, I FEEL this!) and as a near-immediate reaction, it physically throws it back up because our bodies have one purpose and goal- to keep us alive.
Every single second of every day, every cell in your body is working to keep you alive. Treat it well. 🌱
On days where I have a lot of work to get done, my body will send me signals telling me “I’m hungry!” or “I need to pee!” or “You need to take a break!” And too many times, I have ignored those feelings and powered through because I want to accomplish more, achieve more, and be more productive than I was yesterday.
However, we cannot pour from an empty cup, and self-care is more than just face masks, lighting candles, and foot massages. It is a lifestyle routine that needs to be adapted in order to care for your well-being, even when it may feel like a chore. If you’re hungry, eat! Don’t restrict certain foods or throw foods into labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’, and please don’t fall into the trap of diet culture.
We live in a culture where disordered eating is encouraged and called “health, however under-eating, focusing on weight is not health and is dangerous for our bodies. (Source/inspo: thefuckitdiet) Eat whatever, whenever.
When I experience stress, I tend to subconsciously clench my teeth together, hold my breath (or take short breaths), suck in my stomach and tense up my shoulders.
Simply being aware of my physiological response allows me to stop, let loose, and take deep, full breaths to release that tension.
I mention this to my sister and especially women friends repeatedly, but our emotions- particularly fear- are gifts. If you are in a situation alone, on a date, out with friends where you may not be able to explain it to a T, but something feels wrong, it’s okay to take measures to protect yourselves. Often times our bodies will let us know if something isn’t right and sharing your location, phoning a friend, or having pepper spray on hand can save your life.
3. Understand Your Body
The better we understand our bodies and be conscious of our emotions and decisions, the more connected and fulfilled we will be.
Keep in mind:
- The feelings and reactions that come up are 100% valid, but are not fact
- You can feel what you feel, and release it
- You can be an observer of your feelings
- Do not be afraid of your feelings
- You can decide to accept it, or do something to change it
- Slow down, focus on your breathing, and relax
When you feel your emotions taking over, take a step back and check-in with yourself. Identify those feelings so that you can address them. There are no “good” or “bad” emotions. Even when it comes to anger and jealousy which are often known as negative emotions, they are not! They are valid, common feelings. We are in control to make intentional decisions based on the feelings we experience.
4. Establishing Boundaries
You allow what goes into your mind, and what you expose yourself to. This includes friend groups, social media, news, podcasts, tv shows, graphic content, the list goes on. These forms of media will affect your mood, energy, views, and perspective of the world.
As an empath, my energy shifts depending on my environment and the people around me. When I’m around somebody who makes me feel badly about myself, even when I can’t quite put a finger on how, I experience tightness in my throat, rapid heart rate, and start to feel extremely “heavy” or drained. My good friend Asia has a post that will help you discover if you are an empath. Learning to be reflective of the people you surround yourself with will protect your energy. This expands into social media- you have complete power to unfollow or mute the people who make you feel badly about yourself, your choices, or your body.
Asia states in her blog post to “Stay away from anyone who makes you the kind of exhausted that has nothing to do with sleep. If their absence brings you peace- this is a huge indicator that they’re an energy-drainer.
Recognize that it’s not your job to fix the people around you and that you do NOT need to explain yourself to others in hopes they will understands you. This is something I had a hard time struggling with. It’s not your responsibility to take care of others, all you can do is keep your side of the street clean.
It is okay to say no, and admit that something isn’t sitting well with you, makes you feel uncomfortable, and explain instead what you need. You may feel guilty at first, or misunderstood, but you will feel so much more at ease and you will thank yourself in the future.
Our bodies are designed to function with our best interest in mind, so take the time to listen to your body today. It will tell you what you need to do to keep it thriving and sustained. ❤️
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