We’re living in a society where our to-do lists are never ending, and we’re expected to do it all: work a nine to five, raise children, keep up with social engagements, exercise, cook meals, clean the house – the list is endless. We sadly live in a time when ‘busyness’ is glorified, leaving many of us feeling the pressure to constantly achieve and perform regardless of how burnt out we are. We often get so caught up in our commitments that we lose touch with how our bodies feel and what they’re telling us.

That’s why this year, we’re working on letting go of what our minds tell us we ‘should do’ and listening to what our bodies tell us we need.

Here are just a few ways you can aim to reconnect with your body’s natural cues:

Give yourself a break from exercise if you’re feeling fatigued

We all know those days when we feel truly exhausted after a hectic week, a sleepless night, a stressful event, and exercise is the last thing we feel like. Instead of forcing a terrible workout, it might be a good idea to take a break and spend that extra hour relaxing or catching up on sleep.

We’re not suggesting avoiding exercise whenever you ‘don’t feel like it’- regular exercise is important and can be a great stress reliever. However, on those days when you’ve already over-worked yourself and are feeling truly sore or tired, it’s important to take a day off to rest if your body tells you to. If you still want to be active in some way, you could always go for a walk in the fresh air, or do some slower-paced yoga.

Respect your injuries

One of the worst things you can do when you’re experiencing an injury is to ignore it and keep going at full pace. Exercising with an injury can cause serious damage, which means more recovery time and potentially putting your health at risk.

If you’re experiencing a serious injury, be sure to visit your doctor who will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed. Once you get back to exercising, start out slowly and build your way back up.

Prioritise sleep when you’re feeling run-down

With so much going on in our lives, it can be difficult to get as much sleep as we need. While the number varies for different people, experts suggest adults need around eight hours of sleep a night.

When we get run-down and our immune systems are compromised, getting enough sleep is absolutely key to helping our bodies fight infection and keep us healthy. Don’t feel bad about respecting your body and resting up if it’s an available option.

Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues

Being tuned in when our body needs food, and when it’s had enough, is key to our physical and mental health. If you’re supressing your hunger instead of having a snack or meal when your body tells you to, you’re depriving yourself of the energy you need to live. This can lead to crashes in your blood sugar, mood, and much more serious consequences when driven to the extreme. Alternatively, regularly over-eating when you’re not hungry, either out of boredom or for emotional reasons, can lead to disease and weight gain.

Work to distinguish when you’re actually hungry or full, or when you’re under- or over-eating due to emotional or environmental reasons. Eating is intuitive, therefore you’ll be surprised by what your body is actually telling you when you start to listen to it.

Whenever you’re feeling unsure or overwhelmed, stopping to take a few deep breaths and listen to what your body is telling you is always a good place to start. It’s definitely something we’re working on doing more of in 2021.