Last Spring I took an Anxiety Management Course in order to learn tools and techniques to manage my anxiety. A lot of the discussion involved self-nurturing as a way to decrease anxiety, in particular the notion of the importance of listening to the body. Many people with anxiety spend the majority of their awake hours in their head, and forget that there's a body around their thoughts that needs nurturing. The link between a healthy body and a sound mind is crucial. If you don't feed or care for your body, your mind can't possibly work well, and a mind that doesn't function well can then impact the health of a body.
In my daily life as a mother of three, I spend a lot of time in my head, thinking of all the various things that need to be done. I've often spent so much time thinking or doing, that I ignore my body's call for nurturing. How many times I have delayed a bathroom trip because I had to finish something. How often I have eaten more that I needed because I was lost in thought and ignored my body's signals that I was full. I have realized that by losing touch with my body's most basic needs and signals, I have also lost touch with myself.
The Anxiety Course helped to make me understand the fundamental importance of caring for my body. One specific tool is very helpful in keeping me grounded and in teaching me how to listen to my body. It's a simple check-in performed various times a day that gets me out of my head and helps me reconnect with my body's needs for nurturing. When I check-in, I ask myself two basic questions:
1. How do I feel?
2. What do I need?
Once I have figured out how I feel and what I need, I immediately do what is needed to care for my body. For example, right now, I notice that my tongue is dry and I feel thirsty. I need a glass of water. So I'm going to go get some water to make my body feel better. Simple as that.
Try and check-in with yourself a few times a day and listen to your body. If it needs something like a glass of water, don't ignore it. Go take care of your body, and your body will reward you by making you feel amazing.
What did I do for "Me" today? I got a massage and started reading a new book. And I'm now going to go to bed early. I've been ignoring my body's needs for rest the last few days, so it's time to check-in and nurture myself by sleeping.