Mothers routinely put their family’s needs before their own. They become so busy listening and responding to the wants and needs of their loved ones, they forget to listen to their own. When we neglect our needs, we set ourselves up for health problems and burnout. In order to give the best of ourselves, we must have our own needs met first. How do we know what we need in order to properly care for ourselves? Our bodies will signal us, and it’s our job to learn how to listen and trust what we feel.
Why do women struggle to listen to their bodies?
Women often struggle to build and maintain a positive and trusting relationship with our body, especially throughout motherhood. In our culture, women grow up constantly hearing about all the ways in which we don’t measure up physically, causing an early fracture in our relationship with our body. Women who have undergone trauma (like sexual abuse) frequently disconnect entirely from their body in an effort to feel safe. Mamas experiencing the symptoms of stress often feel like their body is betraying them. This disconnect with our body and distrust in its signals is a huge impediment to vitality.
Your body holds vast wisdom within. It is designed with an incredible operating system that runs smoothly and effectively without us even having to think about it. Everything is connected and working together. It maintains balance so well in fact that its natural state is actually one of vibrant health and vitality when it is properly nourished and cared for. This is hard for many women to fathom, particularly if they’ve struggled with chronic health issues.
What are the benefits of building a relationship with our bodies?
Your body sends you signals constantly. It’s our job to listen and respond to this communication so we can meet its needs. For example, your body will send you subtle hunger signals when your blood sugar levels are dropping from improper nourishment, such as stomach grumbles, fatigue, lightheadedness, and mood swings (just to name a few). If the signals go unanswered, you may get “hangry” as those blood sugar levels are crashing. And nobody likes a hangry mama. Repeated cycles of improper blood sugar management for years on end primes you for developing type II diabetes later in life. Ignoring any of the body’s signals becomes increasingly problematic as we age.
What are the benefits of building a relationship with and listening to our bodies?
The body has many natural rhythms and cycles that need our input. The more we become tuned into our body’s communication signals of hunger, thirst, satisfaction, and fullness, the better we become at preventing mood swings, energy crashes, poor concentration, and excessive weight gain. Managing blood sugar levels supports healthy metabolism, helping to usher in our optimal weight. When our needs are not being met, we feel depleted, frustrated, moody, and short-tempered. Life is smoother and more enjoyable when we listen to and prioritize our body’s needs.
Learning to listen to and trust in our body’s signals goes beyond nourishing our physical body. Listening is a skill affecting all levels of wellness. The body can communicate our emotional and spiritual needs as well. With some practice, we can learn to decipher those signals as well. Reconnecting with our emotional and spiritual needs can reconnect us with our personal power and invite vitality back into your life.
How do we cultivate this valuable relationship?
We start by recognizing all the amazing things that the body has done right. We put our focus on gratitude first, such as on the miraculous feat of growing and birthing a baby.
On a practical level, we cultivate this relationship over time by learning our body’s unique communication signals by frequently feeling into it. This allows us to cultivate a deeper understanding of what we are needing from moment to moment. One practice in particular that can help us build a nurturing relationship with our bodies is intuitive eating [link to article]. This simple practice can be incorporated into our daily lives. Stay tuned for our next blog post to find out more about building a relationship with your body through intuitive eating.
Your incredible body has a lot of wisdom to offer, and it’s there for you when you’re ready to listen.
Co-authored by Avery Wood and Dr. Emma Andre