It is commonly said that it’s important to listen to your body, but why is that? What are the real benefits? One of the reasons we should listen to our bodies is because body awareness promotes improved health. When you are deeply aware of your body, you can better understand things like hunger cues, emotional eating, and the impact of stress on your body. Knowing these kinds of things is highly valuable. Here are six great ways to listen to your body and give it what it needs.

Pay attention to your stress.

Are you extremely stressed out? Stress can have a huge impact on your health and overall well-being. Some of the top stress drivers include work, family and relationships. There are also those that are simply frustrated and anxious. Not dealing with your stress can have huge ramifications on your health. “Stress doesn’t necessarily cause certain conditions, but it can make the symptoms of those conditions worse,” said internal medicine physician Richard Lang, MD, MPH. “When physical symptoms worsen, they may in turn increase a person’s level of stress, which results in a vicious cycle.” Stress can affect a number of areas of your body including muscles and joints, heart and lungs, skin and hair, and your immune system among other things. One way you can treat your body properly is by boosting your immune system with exercise and healthy habits.

Pay attention to your drive.

Are you losing interest in the things you love? When you begin to lose interest in the things you love, it is a big signal that something is going on with your body. You may not be taking care of yourself adequately. This may show up in different ways. You may suddenly be interested less in the activities that you used to love and enjoy. You also may find yourself wanting to spend more time in your bedroom than around the ones you love. If you are feeling like you have little drive, it may be time to talk to someone.

Pay attention to your workout routine.

If you’re someone who works out regularly, a big sign that something is off with your body is when you lose the desire to workout completely. This may show up like you being more lethargic than usual, or simply not feeling like doing anything. Exercise helps keep your body healthy. You don’t have to spend everyday in the gym to keep a solid workout routine. You can jog around the block a few times. You may even walk on the treadmill at home. Anytime your routine abruptly stops, it’s an indicator that something deeper is going on, and it shouldn’t be left unchecked. The wonderful thing is if you’ve fallen off the wagon, you can get right back on. There is no day but today.

Pay attention to your sleeping patterns.

Are you getting adequate rest? One of the reasons it is so great is because of it’s health benefits. When you go to sleep at a reasonable hour, you wake up feeling refreshed. One bad night of sleep can throw your whole body out of whack. You may also find it more difficult to concentrate and be productive. There are several things that can cause a shift in your sleeping patterns. A number of these causes are often stress related. According to the American Psychological Association, adults who sleep less than eight or nine hours a night report higher levels of stress than those who sleep eight hours or more a night. It’s important to pinpoint what’s causing the stress so you can get your body back on track.

Pay attention to your nutrition.

Focus on what you’re consuming. If you’re not eating what your body needs, your body will tell you. Good nutrition is the key to self-care. That’s why you should be eating the right things for your body. This is another form of self-care. Many people don’t realize how much food impacts your energy levels and overall performance. Many people also don’t think about how much the things they consume, including food and alcohol can really damage you. Ask yourself if your plate is balanced? Are you drinking enough water? Is your sugar intake above where it should be? Are you drinking or smoking too heavily? These things will not only devastate your physical health, but also your mental health.

Pay attention to recent weight gain.

Unexpected weight can be a signal that something bigger is going on with your body. Some weight fluctuations can be expected but putting on weight for no apparent reason could be a red flag. It’s important that you monitor any weight gain over a period of time. If this persists, you should seek medical attention. Sometimes, it’s bigger than just eating more. It could be a signal that something is going on with your thyroid. It can also indicate Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, in women. Sudden weight gain can also indicate issues you may not commonly think of. According to Medical News Today, sudden weight gain, or swelling in the body can signal kidney disease.

If your kidneys are not functioning as they should, your body may be retaining extra fluid. This can result in weight gain. Certain medications you take can also be the cause of rapid weight gain. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, there are some medication that can cause people to gain several pounds a month as a side effect.

When you take care of yourself, and focus on your health, you and the people around you will benefit. The best way you can do this is focus on your mental, physical, and emotional health. If something doesn’t feel quite right, pay attention to it. It’s also important that you get adequate sleep. Every night, you should be aiming for at least 8 hours of sleep. If you’re eating properly, resting and focusing on the things that matter the most you, things will fall into place.

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