|I made a New Year's resolution this year that I've never made before. I resolved to be aware of what is going on inside my body. Before you laugh at this statement, think about it a moment. It sounds simple, but it's hard for me to do.
Many of us have perfected the ability to ignore bodily signals: pain, hunger, discomfort, fatigue. We've gone without sleep to feed babies and care for sick children. We take care of household responsibilities when we have the flu. We work late into the night to get reports written or Halloween costumes sewn. We ignore hunger to lose weight as well as ignore signals of satiety when we overeat.
I once walked on a broken foot for two years, because the fracture was difficult to find. With a baby and a toddler needing my care, I became quite expert at tuning out pain. Ignoring pain and other internal cues can help us function during a crisis or for short periods of time. But when we habitually tune out signals from our body, we prevent ourselves from staying in touch with the very bodies that we most need to care for - our own.
The task for me and maybe for you is to start paying attention to the subtle and small cues that our bodies give us. Once your body literally forces you to pay attention, the problem has usually become larger or more serious. So when you feel fatigue, find the time for a 10-minute nap. Keep an apple handy for a snack when you feel hungry. Don't eat foods that cause heartburn, no matter how good they taste. Instead of ignoring that recurring headache, make a doctor's appointment to check it out. Notice what causes your shoulder muscles to tense up during the day. Change your posture and stretch periodically. Breathe!
Paying attention to what is going on below my neck is not second-nature for me. And I don't always like the messages I'm receiving. But I'm working on it and I hope you'll also think about being more aware and respectful of your body's needs. Here's to a healthy and mindful new year for all of us!