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Are you listening to your body?

How does your body feel right now?

You might have constantly tight shoulders, maybe you keep getting sinus infections, your back keeps seizing, or you may be prone to spots. But you are probably dismissing these niggles as just part of your life. So, you don’t pay attention to what your body is saying. Or you do pay attention, you notice the niggles, but assume that it requires a traditional medical response. So, you try to sleep more, you exercise, you take a pill, see a physio. However, have you ever considered that there is something else going on? That your back flares whenever you see your ex, that you break out in spots whenever you have a scary presentation to do at work. So maybe those niggles are messages from your body about what needs to change in your life.

Are these niggles and symptoms a by product of what is going on in your mind?

What’s going on in your mind can play out in your body. I have seen this time and time again, as a clinician, coach, manager and from personal experience. Often, we carry stress around in our body like an unexploded hand grenade. This stress creates symptoms. The symptoms/messages are a signal that something is not OK in your world.

For example, as you start negotiating the sale of your beloved business, you get a sore throat. You get into your car on Monday morning to drive to work and the dread in your stomach rises.

Ignoring messages from your body, can leave you depleted. Taking a pill might mask the symptoms for a short while, but it doesn’t fix them. In essence we expend a huge amount of energy trying to dig deep to just get through this week or pretending to ourselves that niggle is not a big deal. After a while your body gets used to being under permanent stress.

This got me thinking: if I received a letter from my body, what would it say? What would my body be trying to tell me? Would it be loving, kind and grateful? Would it be constructive?

Hey there,

I know we haven’t spoken in a while. That was an amazing night’s sleep, the other night. First one in ages. And thanks for drinking all that water. Well done on getting some exercise in. But I just wanted to mention that all that ruminating you are doing at 3am about how you are going to manage your boss, it’s not working. You need to pick a better time. You are not really at your best at 3am. If I don’t get to sleep, you will be impossible the next day.

Or would it sound like this? Would your body be frustrated, and annoyed with you, for constantly being dismissed?

For goodness’ sake! Will you take five minutes for yourself. Do not “just check your phone”, it is a complete time suck. Could you please stop whining about how it is always you who cooks dinner? No one in this house is dying of malnutrition. War correspondent Kate Adie or a NGO is not about to turn up with a food parcel. Why can’t they have cheese on toast tonight? Just sit down and do nothing for a few minutes. Honestly, the world will not end if you sit down. Not your world or anyone else’s in this house. You are running yourself into the ground.

You know that dull, heavy feeling you get whenever you arrive at work? Well, it’s time to deal with that because you are spending half of your waking life at work, and it shouldn’t feel that bad. I am trying to show you that this workplace is not good for you, but you keep ignoring me, turning up daily, and refusing to consider alternatives. There must be a better way. Do you want to live the next 20 years like this?

So as a Coach, I am asking you: If your body wrote you a letter, what would it say?

It is important to listen to your body and give it what it needs.  Start with the obvious: see your GP, get some sleep, eat well. But is also might be time to look at what is triggering those uncomfortable niggles, and start listening to the hidden messages.

Sometimes we don’t know what we need and that’s when a coach can help. Which messages are telling you to get healthy, and which messages are telling you to sort your head out?


I am a coach, mother and wife, living in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I grew up in South London, in an immigrant family in the suburbs. But I had good fortune with my parents: Dad was born in Calcutta, India, and my Mum came from communist Poland. In the 1970s I got to leave Croydon, and travel with my family through India, and behind the Iron Curtain. I saw parts of the world that my classmates could not comprehend. It sparked my wanderlust and gave me a great respect for how big and diverse our world is. And I gained an ability to move between different cultures, assimilating into them.

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