We are living in a “grind culture.” We are productivity driven, often feeling like the gold standard is working 60 hours or more a week. Our worth has become outcome driven, (i.e. hours work, projects produced, client numbers, deadlines, zoom meetings, etc.). This is a rat race that cannot be won. This hustle way of life has consequences. We find ourselves living in our heads and not in our bodies.
Many individuals – those with eating disorders or folks who have experienced trauma – feel comfortable living in their heads, while living an embodied life feels terrifying. Living from the neck up takes a toll on the body, and eventually your WISE AF body is going to send you messages that cannot be ignored. For those of you who are skilled ignorers/avoiders, please know you can not run from your body forever; the whispers and nudges will become screams. Your WISE AF body will demand your attention, your nurture, and your care.
The Toll of Living in Your Head
Have you ever gotten sick during finals week? Ever blown off friends because you had a few more things to complete on your to-do list? Have you ever felt like you had been hit by a truck after having worked a 12+ hour day? If you have said yes to anything of these things, I hear you… me too! Staying disconnected from your body may feel like the safe option, yet research is clear about the consequences of subscribing to the “grind culture” and not listening to our bodies:
- Increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke
- Suppresses your immune system
- Swelling, pain, and tenderness in your joints
- Gastrointestinal problems: GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel
- Skin and hair problems: acne, psoriasis, eczema, permanent hair loss
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Appetite changes – increasing disordered eating behaviors
Benefits of an Embodied Life
Becoming embodied allows deeper communication with yourself. Your WISE AF body has information you need to take care of yourself. When you are more connected with your body, you start to hear your body’s messages, the whispers for attention & and nudge for needs to be met (hunger, thirst, sleep, connection, etc.). When you begin to acknowledge and respond to your body’s whispers, your body begins to trust you. Your WISE AF body learns that she/he/they can nudge you when they are feeling tired and trust you’ll go to bed, nudge you with thirst and you’ll drink, hunger and you’ll eat. Your body will learn to trust that you’ll acknowledge and respond to emotional cues before those worries turn to panic.
An embodied life helps you live a values-driven life. When our behaviors are not aligned with our values our body feels that. When you choose work over connection, your WISE AF body feels it. When you choose productivity over creativity your WISE AF body hears that. When you choose Netflix over nature your body feels that. Drop into your body and listen to what your WISE AF body needs, wants, and craves. This is hard work, and the work required to BE.WHOLE.
Steps to an Embodied Living
Throughout the day take breaks to practice paced breathing. Breathe in for 5 counts and exhale for 7 counts, focusing on releasing the tension in your body during your exhale.
Connect with your emotions. In a non-judgmental and curious way, explore what you are currently feeling throughout the day. Name the emotion rather than ignoring it by staying busy.
Check in periodically with the physical sensations you’re experiencing. Notice your heart rate, any tension in your shoulders, hands, and stomach – stay in that moment rather than escaping it. Acknowledge and respond to hunger and thirst cues. If you have to take a bathroom break – get up and go!
Create awareness in your daily activities. When you eat, eat. When you walk, walk. When you clean, clean. The “grind culture” promotes multitasking. Embodied living invites you to create awareness and live in the present moment, doing one thing at a time.
5. RADICALLY ACCEPT
Pain cannot be avoided; pain is nature’s way of signaling that something is wrong. Fighting against your reality (“It shouldn’t be this way!” “This isn’t fair!” “This isn’t happening!”) only creates suffering – and keeps you living from the neck up. Refusing to accept reality can keep you stuck in unhappiness, bitterness, anger, sadness, shame, or other painful emotions. Radically accept with mind, body, and spirit your present moment and the past. Radical acceptance gives you the opportunity to move through the painful emotion and become unstuck.
6. NON-JUDGMENTAL STANCE
Practice building compassion for yourself and others by maintaining a non-judgmental stance. Acknowledge what is going on around you or in your life; see it, but do not evaluate it as good or bad, right or wrong. Just name the facts. Then, acknowledge (but do not judge) your values, your wishes, your emotional reactions to the facts. When you find yourself judging, don’t judge your judging.
Practice relaxation techniques regularly to aid in a connection with your body. Try different methods to find what works for you: walks, nature, meditation, imagery, bubble baths, etc.
An embodied life is listening to the needs of your body, meeting those needs, and re-building that trust with your WISE AF body. Your brain and body are ready to heal their relationship, and I would love to join you in this work. This is not easy and requires practice. You can align your life with your values, live with integrity, and build compassion for yourself and others. Your WISE AF body is ready to BE.WHOLE.
Thank you for reading,