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Apr 062015

This post is dedicated to the gorgeous Christiana- thank you so much for contributing my darling. Hope you’re having a lovely day!

listen to bodyPicture taken from here

One of the most frustrating parts of my healing and recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was the idea of ‘pacing’ myself. I’d read books about it, everybody talks about it in relation to the illness, but putting it into practice is something else entirely. If you’re used to being independent and not having to worry about whether you’re actually going to have enough energy to do x, y and z, the concept of having to ration out your energy and second-guess how you’re going to feel in however many hours’ time is incredibly daunting, not to mention embarrassing. (That’s another thing about CFS as well. One minute you’re fine, the next minute you’re wiped doing something you usually have no problems with. It’s completely random and sporadic, and therefore impacts on your life in a major way!)

If you’re anything like me, you want to use your energy immediately when you’ve got it. It’s a beautiful day, you want to walk up the street (sometimes, I could barely manage to walk across the room, never mind the street), maybe go to a cafe, then walk home. You want to do it now, not tomorrow, not in 2 hours’ time- now. This is your body’s way of telling you you’re ready- right?! Well, maybe, but chances are, probably not.

Here are 5 tips on how to learn to listen to your body and help you really know whether you’re really ready to go for a walk/visit friends/go downstairs/do ‘that thing’.

How to Learn to Listen to your Body:

1) Tune in for a second

Once you’ve made the decision in your mind to do something and you’re feeling the energy and determination running through you, just close your eyes for a few seconds. Why do you want to do this? Is it for you, or is it for someone else? Is this too much for me? How will you feel tonight or tomorrow after doing what you’re about to do? Meditate quietly for a few seconds. Every time I’ve done this and meditated, I’ve got my answer. Usually as soon as I close my eyes, I know intuitively whether or not I can cope with this. In the very early to mid stages of CFS, every time I’ve ignored this voice, I’ve paid the price for days or sometimes weeks afterwards. If there is any doubt in your mind at all as to whether you should be doing what you’re about to do, don’t do it.

I always found that when I wasn’t ready for something, I would decide to do it and this huge rush of unnatural energy would wash over me. I’d feel really shaky and jittery, but took this as excitement. This ‘excitement’ was probably adrenalin, and chances are if you’ve got CFS, then adrenal problems factor into your illness too. Putting too much pressure on your adrenal glands can tire you out or cause a ‘crash’ incredibly quickly, hence the reason you really need to tune in. Don’t make yourself more tired than when you first started out!

2) Think of your energy as a savings account

I like to think of my energy as my personal savings account. If I spend everything I have in there, it’s always going to be empty and I’m always going to be left with nothing. If you’re having a ‘good’ day, fantastic- love it, be grateful for it and honour it. Then, chances are, tomorrow will be a good day too. Don’t go crazy and go running around like a lunatic trying to do everything you haven’t been able to do over the last few weeks because you’ve been in bed. Take this as a sign from your body to rest and be thankful for tomorrows with gradual increases in energy. The day when you can go out will then come to you, probably sooner than you think.

3) Know your warning symptoms

If I’d been really going crazy, not eating properly, not stopping for breaks and really ignoring rest and relaxation, I’d get muscle spasms in my hands and feet, which I would then wake-up with and take with me into the next day. This cycle would then repeat itself, get worse and you can probably imagine the rest. Slurred speech was also a warning sign for me- in my head, I sounded fine, but my fiance would suddenly usher me to the sofa to lie down when this happened, I then knew I had to rest up and really let everything go.

Get to know your body’s triggers. Only you know what yours are and these are different for everyone. Maybe yours are headaches, blurred vision, brain-fog or nutrition-related, such as craving more sugar or salt. Think about your probable triggers and watch out for them. This is your body’s way of telling you to really slow it down- now.

4) Only listen to yourself, not to others

At the beginning of my illness, despite good and kind intentions from my family, they were constantly on my back to do things in the hope that I’d miraculously feel better- go to a restaurant, go shopping, go and visit someone. Only you can decide what is right for you. If you feel pressurised into doing something, thank the person asking you, say that you’ll give it a miss today, but maybe you can think about it for next week. Always know that they have good intentions, but do not feel pressurised into doing something which you know intuitively will make you feel worse.

5) Keep a diary

This can extend into all areas of your recovery, but if you have the strength, keep a diary of good days and bad days, or ask a relative to help you. What symptoms do you have? What did you do the day before? What did you eat the day before? You might then be able to spot a pattern in your habits that can help you realise why some days you feel better than others. This also acts as a motivator, so when you see past ‘good days’ on a bad day, you will still feel hopeful and optimistic in your recovery.

I hope this helps you in some way. It’s along road, and a frustrating one, but learning how to do this can really help in your long-term, sustained recovery.

I’d love to know how you cope with pacing and how to tune into your body. Please share your comments below!

Love and listening,

Katie   xx

  11 Responses to “5 Tips on How to Learn to Listen to Your Body”

  1. Lovely Kate, ten thousand precious Thankyous for the beautiful dedication… I loved reading your 5 Tips – as always super constructive & positive suggestions. Point #1 “Tune in for a second, listen & meditate quietly for a few seconds” is such powerful advice.

    I am learning how to REALLY deeply listen to & RESPOND to my body in a loving way, so this blog post appeared at a pivotal time in my healing journey. The body is speaking to us ALL the time & when we constantly ignore/suppress our inner voice, by disregarding what our bodies really want – we subvert our own Nature & pave the way for illness to become manifest.

    I have found that using a daily mantra helps me to shift my mind from negative into positive, this is especially useful to focus on when I am registering symptoms in my body (i.e. fatigue, exhaustion, pain etc…) which as u know, are challenging to deal with & can really wear u down. My current Mantra is “I lovingly listen to the messages of my Body, & I lovingly honour what my body wants”. Your blog post has really helped to reinforce that.

    I love reading your blog and Facebook posts they are an inspiration to everyone!

    Yours in wellness x Christiana

    • Hi Christiana! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post- thank you so much for inspiring it! I’m really glad you’re practicing tuning in to your body. The brain and body are most definitely linked (even doctors can’t argue with the biology of this!), so treating them seperately, as a lot of people seem to do these days, is sometimes energy wasted.

      I love the idea of mantras. Louise Hay’s ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ is full of affirmations and mantras- I wrote a post about them here: Hope it helps you my darling!

      Thank you so much for reading and for supporting the blog. I can’t tell you how much it means to me!

      Warmest wishes,

  2. For me, it happens to be late too follow my body. I hear it, I know what am I supposed to do but I just can’t react on time. Any ideas?
    Thank you for the post!

    • Hi Alesea- thanks for your comment. My advice is to try and rest before you get tired. Really try to resist the urge to use up all your in energy in one go when you’ve got it. Try and put aside anything that’s getting in the way of taking time out for yourself our ask others for help, again before you get tired. Don’t hope it’ll be ok when your body is telling you otherwise

      Really hope that helps- thank you for commenting Alesea!
      Katie xx

  3. Thank you again Katie; this is one for me that has been a tough one to embrace…but when I do the benefits truly do speak for themselves. A book I came across in a thrift shop that has helped me immensely is “A Pace of Grace” by Linda Kavelin Popov. It was a concept I never even thought of. I was of the mind that on a good day I would have a coffee and attempt to catch up on things that hadn’t been done in awhile; and then be bed bound for a few days after, intensifying the frustration, fatigue and depression.

    This is a timely reminder for me right now as I have a student staying with us from overseas, and we are getting ready to move July 15, so pacing will be essential.

    Sending love & blessings,
    Jada Rae

  4. thank you all… I have enjoyed reading your comments and the post is very inspirational Katie….x My mantra for today… ‘ I lovingly listen to my body with nurturing care and ease… I go with the flow of least resistance …. I trust I am supported by the Universe in all ways… I am safe and I am loved….’ or ‘I lovingly listen to what my body needs today’ xxx love and blessings to all Namaste _()_

  5. Aww, thank you beautiful- I’m so glad you’re here! xx

  6. Thank You- this is just what I needed to find today xxxooo

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