Michelle* tossed me her lucky charm, a box of "Sobriety Test Gum" as we dashed into the car and off to the Dodgers game. Why was it her talisman? The tiny print told all. "Check Ya Self Before You Wreck Ya Self." Now, those are word to live by.
Americans are addicted to the positive strokes of turbo accomplishment. Many are ignoring their most basic needs in the process. Not listening to your body can have disastrous results.
I should know. In the late 90's my life looked like a three lane pile up. After years of working 16-hour days, I ended up burnt out with Meiners Syndrome. (I could see you, but in triplicate and the room would be spinning.) The blurry months and bad decisions that followed set the stage for me to lose my design company. I paid the price for burnout.
Beauty Rest Is For Sissies
As a coach I am observing this is a growing trend for successful working women. Female executives drive themselves as hard if not harder than their male counterparts. However, women have one-seventh the testosterone of men. Testosterone is a key ingredient in drive and endurance. We as a gender don't have the testosterone to support the toxic pace of an 80 hour work week.
Look at the toll overwork has taken on Arianna Huffington. Arianna passed out from exhaustion, broke her cheekbone and got five stitches under her eye. Her story is dramatic, but not unusual. A recent Harvard study found that 60% of American women were getting less than 8 hours of sleep. Are you one of them?
Don't Let Your Schedule Carjack Your Life.
Sure you are busy, but fight back. Take fifteen minutes and "check in" with your body. Maybe it's not very glamorous but don't let that fool you. Taking a small step to take care of yourself can transform your life. If you don't have fifteen minutes in your day for you, there is some thing wrong. Bad wrong.
A box of "Sobriety Test Gum" inspired this post. Here's a 12 Step Program technique to break the addiction of ignoring your body. If you were in AA your sponsor would tell you to HALT. Literally. Stop. Check in to see if you were Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. I add thirsty because most of us are not drinking enough water.
The messages of your body are profoundly articulate. Since they convey so much information, I call this internal language of your body- Bod-ese. You've been getting Bod-ese signals every day of your life. As a baby you knew when you were hungry, thirsty or tired. Your body needed care and you let everyone in earshot know about it.
Now that you are a Big Important Person with Big Important Deadlines, you have better things to than eat or sleep. Your body isn't just an amazing machine, it's also a soulful instrument. Have you been listening to its signals and notes?
12 Steps To Listen To Your Body
In the rush of everyday life, it's easy to be disconnected from your body's needs. Here is an exercise to get touch with your body signals. You may begin by using one or two of the tips, but I wanted to give you a selection to choose from.
1. Turn Off and Tune In
Turn off your phone and all your beeping gizmos. Your body speaks in sensations. It's easier to hear them when it's silent. Exhale tension. Inhale relaxation. Do this three times so you feel more connected to your body.
2. Observe It.
Close your eyes and observe your body. What sensations do you notice? Does your left shoulder ache and your throat feel tight? Take note.
3. Take a Baseline Picture.
Now, take a quick "snapshot" of how you feel. This instant scan of your bod is your baseline reading.
4.Feel A Smile Bringer
Now, think of someone, something, or someplace that delights you. Now, feel your body sensations. Do you feel warmth in your heart? Are you more relaxed, and is your breathing deeper?
5. Feel The Yuck Response.
Now, think of something, somewhere, or someone that pisses you off. (Your email inbox, your boss, or your least favorite politician.) Now, feel your body sensations. Do you feel a sense of uneasiness or coldness?
6. Temperature Check.
Notice the difference. What was the change? It may be subtle. For most folks warmth and ease translate to a "yes" in Bod-ese. Cold and greater tension is a "no" in Bod-ese
Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, or Thirsty? Take a moment and get a Bod-ese read on the current moment.
Vote for yourself and do what works for you. Give your body a chance to cast a ballot.
9. Give Yourself FAB 15.
What did your body request? Do you need some protein? Are you parched? Is it time to stretch and get some fresh air?
10. Just Do It.
Carve out a 15-minute break to replenish yourself. Enact the request from your body.
11. First Impressions First.
Your first impression is usually the most accurate. Go for it. Like me you may be tired or thirsty when you think you are hungry. (Today I reached for food when my body was...thirsty.)
12. Thank You Is A Magic Word.
Thank yourself. It is a magic word. When you acknowledge yourself for making a positive a step you anchor it.
You are the world's leading expert in your dialect of Bod-ese. Only you can listen to your body and take back your life. Please let me know what you are doing listen to your body. If you have questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This is Los Angeles so, Michelle was my pal, Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas. The car was a limo. The Dodgers Game was the 50th Anniversary of the Dodgers coming to LA. Why the need for a lucky charm? Michelle threw out he first pitch. To see video of our Fellini-esqe adventure, come to www.elidavidson.com
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more