How confident are you that you can tell the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger?
Do you ever experience difficulty with labelling how you're feeling? Are you tired? or sad, bored, anxious or perhaps lonely?
Have you ever struggled to describe to a doctor precisely what your symptoms are, even though you know that you just 'don't feel well'?
In all of these situations, the difficulty is in listening to your body's cues for what it needs - whether physically or emotionally - and translate it into acts of self-care.
What is 'Body Awareness' and why is it important for health?
The ability to pick up on your body's signals and translate them is referred to as 'Body Awareness'. If you're truly on a mission to make peace with your body (and food and exercise), you'll need to develop this awareness so that you can listen in to your body's cues and provide for it. Whether it's about getting more sleep, changing up eating habits, swapping to a relaxing form of exercise, or even addressing a negative relationship in your life which is tearing you down emotionally.
Examples of cues to look out for
When there's a particular need going unmet, you can be sure you're body will let you know about it, but it may not always be so straightforward or easy to pick up. A really good book written by a doctor on the topic of body awareness, or 'body intelligence' is Body Wise, by Dr Rachel Carlton Abrams. In this book, Dr Carlton Abrams describes a wide range of strange symptoms experienced by her patients which were treated by resolving seemingly un-related issues in their lives.
Aside from illness, other cues to listen out for (or in many cases, learn to recognise) are:
- physical hunger - the kind you feel in your stomach
- feelings of fullness and satiety
- thirst - which is often mistaken for hunger
- tiredness - sometimes confused for a lack of motivation and focus
- emotional hunger - which can often lead to emotional eating, whereby an individual eats for the sole purpose of making themselves 'feel' better emotionally, for example, comfort eating after a stressful day at work.
Strategies for developing body awareness
In the quick video below I talk a little more about Body Awareness and list out some strategies and action steps for developing body awareness. Be sure to download the accompanying workbook too, so you can jot down the steps to take.