How Often Do You Remind Yourself You Have a Body?
In a typical week, my day-to-day looks something like this lately:
- Wake up around 5:30, take a few minutes to meditate and/or pull a tarot card to connect with the energy of the day, then get myself ready for work. (If I’m lucky, this all happens before my son wakes up. If I’m not so lucky, I have to scurry to get ready while he sits in his crib yelling for me to hurry the hell up, haha.)
- Get Bodhi ready for the day.
- Commute to daycare/work, which as of late has doubled in time due to some construction along our route.
- Spend about 8.5 hours sitting at my desk.
- Pick up Bodhi and commute home, praying the whole way that he’s content and won’t start screaming at any second.
- Feed my family, hopefully something with at least a little nutritional value.
- Get Bodhi to bed.
- Do any necessary housework that absolutely can’t wait any longer. (Do you also accumulate mountains of laundry at an alarming rate? I swear it’s never-ending.)
- Work on my business if I’m not completely depleted of creative energy.
- Shower . . . some days. ;)
- Try to fit in even just 15 minutes of movement and a little light reading.
- Set my alarm and get some zzz’s.
- Begin this cycle over again.
I know that this routine is not even close to being unique to me and my family. If you work a day job outside of your home (or even work for yourself or someone else at home) chances are that your day-to-day at least slightly resembles mine above. Since the evening is the only time I have to get things done at home I often get so focused on checking things off my to-do list that I barely taste the food I took time to prepare. I also have to force myself to go to sleep (usually later than intended) so that I get enough rest to feel human the next day, all the while feeling like I’ve accomplished absolutely nothing.
If you find yourself in a similar situation you know how shitty this feels - going round and round on the hamster wheel tending to obligations, family, work, and chores with little room left for play, freedom, and relaxation. When we live our daily lives like this it’s easy to become disconnected from our bodies, especially if we’re not carving out time for movement. We may begin to feel sick or get injured and try to power through it because we don’t want to “waste” a sick day to take care of our physical needs. We ignore those important signals from our bodies that are there for a reason.
Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about about the concepts of both reminding myself I have a body and working as though I have a body. I first heard about this in Kate Northrup’s newsletter and then in an episode of her podcast The Kate and Mike Show (which I highly recommend, especially for any other mamapreneurs!). I’ve let it percolate in my mind over the last month to give myself space to recognize how I already implement it in my daily routine and what I can do to remind myself more often that I have a body and it deserves to be cared for.
When I graduated college and began embarking on my career I was ridden with anxiety about all the changes happening at once. Living on my own for the first time, transitioning from full-time school to full-time work, and dealing with the unravelled edges as I ended a 5-year relationship left me feeling completely insecure in pretty much every area of my life. This led to terrible flare ups of what was later diagnosed as IBS that I’ve grown to learn is definitely more stress-induced than food related in my body. Any time I would ignore the signs that I was starting to take on too much I would manifest such crippling stomach pains I would be left with no choice but to rest in bed for a few days to get back to feeling better.
Before I was heavily into health consciousness and really invested in my overall well-being, I remember there being some days where I’d look at my water bottle at the end of the work day and realize I hadn’t taken one sip, and sometimes that I’d forgotten to eat lunch. Admittedly this still happens on occasion when I’m working on my business because I get so passionate and wrapped up creating things that my body’s needs slip my mind or I flat out ignore them and I’m working on making these occurrences even fewer and further between.
I was watching Elizabeth DiAlto’s Instagram story the other night and it had me seriously LOL’ing because she was cracking herself up talking about how taking a break to pee when you have to go is a radical form of self care, and how holding it in is pure torture. Why do we do this to ourselves when it’s so easy to just get up and go the bathroom? What do we think we’re going to miss out on?! Sidenote: This is especially bad when your muscles are still somewhat recovering from childbirth and you’re a little further from the bathroom than you remembered (thank God for pantiliners, lol).
Fortunately, I recognize and understand the importance of taking care of my body and listening in to what it needs. I drink lots of water (and probably a little too much coffee), eat healthfully (most of the time - 80/20 rule, right?), get plenty of rest, and incorporate movement into my routine whether it be walking around our yard watering my flowers, crawling around chasing my son (his new favorite game), or making time to complete a workout. I also take time to meditate regularly to keep my stress in check and those IBS flare ups at bay. This practice also helps me start the day off on a positive mental note so I’m better able to handle the inevitable frustrations that may creep up throughout the day (see: extended commute and cranky toddler).
Some of these things come naturally to me, and some of them not so much. I’ve learned that there are a few simple ways to trick myself into doing what my brain knows is good for my body (including my mind) without too much effort up front. The key for me is that I have to fit it in in smaller bursts and not write it off altogether because I “don’t have time.” This not having time BS is a whole monster in and of itself that I’ll address in another email soon, but I do know that if I have time to check social media constantly throughout the day or watch an hour long TV show I have time to take care of my body - and so do you!
In the winter I definitely notice less of a desire for cold or room temperature water so I’ll trick myself into drinking more by making hot herbal tea throughout the day. This, in turn, requires me to get up and exercise my legs on my way to the ladies room more often (win-win!). I also snack regularly throughout the day so that I don’t end up binging on whatever I can find as soon as I get home, ruining all hopes of a healthy dinner and quality time with my husband because of a hanger-fueled fight. Omg, the hanger! It’s so real and makes me soooo mean.
If I’m super tired when I get home from work but am achy from sitting all day and know I need to stretch I’ll immediately change into my workout clothes and get one step closer to getting on my yoga mat. Full disclosure: sometimes my pjs double as restorative yoga wear and sleepwear. Yoga mat naps are just another way to connect to your body’s needs! ;)
Once I can convince myself to put on a video and settle into a comfortable seat I know the hardest part (simply getting started) has passed and I can enjoy a few minutes of decompressing from the day and reconnecting with my body. I notice a change in my mood, energy, and physical body within the first few minutes and an evening practice always helps me sleep better. Another trick to hold me accountable to exercise is to sign up for a local class that can’t be canceled because I’ll be damned if I waste the $15!
One of the best ways we can remind ourselves of our bodies is to tune in to all of our senses - sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. (Ok, and maybe your spidey sense too . . .)
Sight: When you look at something really beautiful, like flowers in your garden or the face of a loved one, it invokes such a positive response in your body and heart from simply being in your line of sight. And when you witness something ugly, like an individual littering at your favorite beach, you probably harbor resentment for them in your body and mind and maybe even feel the need to walk over to them and say something.
Smell: When you stop to literally smell the roses, or that first cup of coffee in the morning, time stands still for a moment while you appreciate it and let its sweet scent permeate your nasal cavity. Conversely, if you get a whiff of a steaming pile of poo you probably have a much different reaction in your body.
Touch/feel: For me, hopping into a really hot bath or shower feels so damn good every time, especially when I’m fighting off a chill. I’ll never forget the first time I went SCUBA diving in the cold waters off the Rhode Island coast. It was mid-October of 2005 and also the first day it snowed that year. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced being that cold since then, and the shower I had back at my dorm room post-dive was the best I’ve ever had in my life. Water has a way of warming me up like nothing else no matter how cold to the core I feel.
Taste: Think of the pleasure you feel when enjoying your favorite snack, those taste buds going wild on your tongue because they just can’t get enough. Or feeling like you’re going to be sick after eating a puke-flavored Harry Potter jelly bean. Blech. The human body has a pretty incredible ability to create cravings to encourage you to ingest foods high in nutrients your body needs and to provide signals to steer clear of certain foods, especially when you’re pregnant to protect the baby you’re carrying.
Sound: How do you feel when you hear your favorite song on the radio? You probably get giddy with joy and want to scream-sing the lyrics at the top of your lungs while you dance your pants off. (no? just me?) When you hear a song that reminds you of an unhappy time, like a bad breakup, you likely have very different emotions triggered by that memory. Where do you feel this in your physical body? I'll never forget the first time I heard Bodhi cry or the first time he said mama - they are the sweetest sounds I've ever heard.
Tuning in to each of our senses allows us to fully be in the present moment, for better or worse, which is such a gift in this fast-paced culture we live in. Any time you’re feeling disconnected to your body and want to remind yourself of everything it does for you, take a moment to connect in with each of your senses to see how you can bring yourself back into your body and into the present.
This weekend I am sneaking away for 4 days to attend a retreat with one of my very best girlfriends near Lake George in New York. We’ve known each other since we were in second grade and I can’t wait for 3 glorious nights of adult sleepovers!
Our time together will be filled with lots of yoga, pilates, meditation, and outdoor fun. I’m also looking forward to having healthy meals prepared for me daily and enjoying wine by the bonfire in the evenings. Meal planning always stresses me out and it's so nice to not even have to think about what I'm going to eat for a few days!
My heart is filled with gratitude to be able to take some time to unplug and recharge my batteries with such wonderful company, and for the opportunity to reconnect with my body in nature. I haven’t been away since well before Bodhi was born and am thrilled to relax and (re)treat myself knowing he’s in good hands at home.
What will you do this weekend to remind yourself you have a wonderful body and show it a little extra TLC? Comment below and let me know!