Embrace: Responding

For a long time, my mom and I have had this joke about a website we want to create. It would be called Doctor Commonsense, and would consist of really straightforward “problems” that the good doctor would solve.

An example:

“Hungry? Try eating something! You’ll be surprised at how well it works!”

I’m not sure how we came up with this ridiculous amazing idea, but the farthest we’ve gone with it is to create a tumblr. You have to start somewhere, right? The thing is that the website is funny because it’s all so obvious. OR IS IT? (dun dun dun)

Obviously knowing how to satisfy our most basic biological urges is something we assume everyone can do; knowing how to deal with hunger and thirst is so built-in to our nature that we take it for granted, right? Well, yes and no. As I’m constantly having to remind myself, sometimes basic self-care (including feeding and watering) is hard to do. I’m hungry. I know I should eat. But do I? Not necessarily. I’m thirsty, and I live in a city with great tap water. Do I drink it? Not necessarily. Dealing with these things involves more than just instinctual behavior, and all because where there’s food, there’s Feelings.

In my case, those Feelings revolve around whether or not the hunger is “valid”–how valid ends up being defined can depend on any number of variables. And I’m guessing that I’m not alone in this, given how often I see articles that suggest that feelings of hunger might actually be stress, or boredom, or thirst, or something (anything!) other than hunger. Basically, we live in a society that is trying to instill in us a deeply-rooted mistrust of our bodies. It can be hard to remember that magazine articles and posts on the most popular “health” blogs* don’t have a better understanding of what our bodies need than we do.

Recently, I’ve been making an effort to listen to what my body is telling me. I’ve spent years trying to make it shut up, and separate myself from it (as though that’s even possible) in order to suppress needs and urges. Now, though, I’ve arrived at a point where I’m starting to appreciate what my body is capable of telling me. I’m actually listening, and understanding that I have a responsibility to respond.

In the past few weeks, the tension in my shoulders has become incredibly distracting; for the past couple days, my lower back has felt slightly weird; I’ve been tired and a little bit groggy, and had a bad headache since the week started. These are all things that need to be acknowledged, and dealt with. Obviously, it’s time to work a bit more on stress management, strengthen my core muscles to help with the back pain, and probably get back to drinking a lot of water in order to get rid of my headaches. Responding takes work, and conscious, deliberate action.

What is your body asking for? Take some time to listen and respond. You’ll be surprised at how well it works!

*Scare quotes what up? If I’d really applied myself, I probably could have worked a set into every paragraph. Still, three in one post ain’t bad.

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  1. Love it! I have always thought it’s interesting how people disconnect how they feel after eating from what they’ve eaten. “I have a headache after eating McDonald’s, I’d better take an Advil,” rather than “maybe I shouldn’t eat that again.”

    1. Yeah, we are always very hesitant to associate the way our bodies are feeling with our own behaviors! It’s the same sort of denial that keeps us doing a lot of things, like facing fears or stressors directly, instead of trying to ignore them until they go away. I’m trying to always keep in mind that in the long run, I am better off listening and responding than I am ignoring.

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