Nourish | Nourish Yourself by Listening to Your Body's Cues
I turn my house key into the lock of the front door of my apartment, trying to open it as fast as I can.
I’m coming home from work two hours later than I expected and have a big to do list I need to accomplish that evening. I told my boyfriend that we’d go to the grocery store, make dinner and walk the dog. I need to do laundry and call a friend who I promised I’d call for weeks. I need to work out. I want to read at least two chapters of a book before I go to bed, and journal for ten minutes. But it’s already 6:30pm and I’m running out of time left in the day to do it all.
“Hey, how are you?” my boyfriend yells to me from the living room as I open the door.
I reach down to untie my shoes and feel a dull pain in my hips from running the night before. I also have a slight headache, likely because I haven’t had enough water and I’m dehydrated. Taking off my jacket, I let out a yawn. My eyes feel heavy. I am suddenly aware of how tired and achy my body feels. I hope I’m not getting sick. I can’t afford to get sick right now. I have a busy week ahead.
My boyfriend’s question makes me realize that this is the first time throughout the entire day that I am aware of how I’m feeling. And I’m exhausted.
I think about laying down for a quick twenty-minute nap. But I remember my to do list. All the things I promised myself I’d do that night, but I suddenly don’t have the energy for.
I debate pushing through the fatigue I feel but am reminded of what happened the last time I didn’t listen to my body.
I used to be in the habit of pushing myself beyond my physical and mental limits. This is in part because I thought that this is how all people were supposed to operate; to their capacity.
At the time, I was working non-stop on a deadline at work which caused me to pull nine-hour days. I was also obtaining my Masters degree, writing a thesis, training for an upcoming race, and trying to balance family, friends and a social life. My plate was completely full, and I struggled to hold everything in balance. I was barely hanging on by a thread.
But my peers and friends often talked about their similarly busy lives, so I thought that having a full plate was typical. This was just - life. And we’re all just supposed to just deal with our busy schedules, lives, and find ways to cope.
Even worse, because of this belief, I also believed that pushing through agitation, stress and fatigue was normal.
I was wrong.
One day my body had enough – and I landed in the hospital, suffering from exhaustion. No surprise.
I was lucky to walk away from the experience with a valuable lesson: always listen to your body.
Listening to my body has since become one of the main ways I nourish myself, and it has allowed me to offer attention to the things my body needs most.
It was hard to bring this into practice at first.
I started by slowing down and omitting tasks from my schedule so that I could give my body rest which was what my body was telling me I needed at the time. This was difficult since I was used to operating at full steam.
I felt guilty for skipping the gym and going for a walk around the block instead, because I was craving exercise, but my body was fatigued. Or, sleeping in on the weekends and omitting my early morning workout class even though my eyes would hardly open, and I clearly needed the extra rest.
But by listening to my body and what I needed, I discovered that I felt healthier and had more energy. I felt refreshed, and my body didn’t crave extra rest. I had more clarity. And I had more space and energy for the things I truly needed to do - when the time was right for me to do them.
I discovered the importance of putting myself first, before everything else; before all the things. The importance of nourishing myself and creating the possibility for myself.
“How are you? My boyfriend asks me again.
I’m still bent over my shoes, trying to untie them.
“I’m exhausted,” I tell him, honestly. I feel bad, because I told him that we’d make dinner.
“Why don’t you rest for a while?” he suggests.
“I will,” I tell him.
Rest is what I need right now to nourish myself.
-Kailey Buchanan, Communications Expert