How to Listen to Your Body. Should You Rest or Push?

If you’ve been around the health and wellness space long enough you would have heard this term, “listen to you body” and it sounds really cool but what in the world does it actually mean? In this episode, I teach you how to tune into and listen to your body. Because you already are so intuitive. But we’ve gotten away from trusting ourselves, from listening intently to what our body is telling us. So I wanna give you your power back.

Also, in this episode I share how to know when to rest and when to push though. This applies to workouts, people pleasing, setting boundaries, hustle culture, and quite honestly anything that requires you to trade in how you feel to accomplish something else. I think you’ll leave our time together feeling empowered and equipped with tools that sincerely help you feel good. So what are we waiting for? Let’s to dive into the episode.

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How to Listen to Your Body

I like taking what I call feel good action on the podcast because I think this is a surefire way to guarantee results. So we’re going to put some stuff into action right away. Right where you are, take a big breath in and a big exhale out. Good!! If you can – if you’re not driving – go ahead and close your eyes. Stick with me. I’m going to teach you one way for how to listen to your body.

Take a big, steady inhale in through your nose and release that air slowly through your mouth. Repeat that one more time! Big inhale in, big slow exhale out. Good, now continue breathing and as you do, fill your belly up with air. As you inhale, your belly gets big. It fills up and expands. As you breathe out, you feel your core muscles fire and contract as your belly sinks back down. Let’s do a few more deep belly breaths just like that. Alright. You’re ready. ha! Keep breathing those big deep breaths all throughout the episode. You’ll feel amazing afterwards because one of the best ways we can begin to tune into and listen to our body is through deep breathing.

When we slow our breath down, we give ourselves the opportunity to really feel what’s going on. Our breath helps us become a better listener. So as you continue to breathe deep, I want to ask you a few questions.

Number one: are you experiencing any physical pain in your body? Feel free to write these things down as we go – jot down what you’re feeling in the notes app of your phone or on a piece of paper. Are you experiencing any physical pain in your body? If so, place your hands on that specific part of your body. Continue breathing in deep through you belly. Big inhale in through the nose. Big, slow exhale out through your mouth. I don’t want you to push away the pain. I want you to acknowledge it.

Now keep your hand on your pain point and answer this next question. Question number two: are you experiencing any emotional pain right now? Is there anything bothering you at the moment? Is there something weighing on your or taking up space in your mind? What emotions are you experiencing right now? Anxiety, shame, overwhelm, hurt? We’re going to acknowledge everything that comes up, one by one.

Physical Pain Mirrors Emotional Pain

It’s very interesting that a lot of times, physical pain mirrors emotional pain. Some functional medicine practitioners believe that every organ in the body is connected to a different emotion. When that emotion gets trapped in the body, it can cause disease or disfunction of that organ. You see beliefs and practices like this in Chinese Medicine too. For example, the liver is connected to anger. From a functional standpoint, our liver helps us detox. Anger in and of itself is not bad. But if you’re not processing your anger, if it’s not detoxing so to speak, it can get stuck in your body, specifically the liver.

You’ll notice that a lot of people with drug or alcohol addictions may also have liver disease. Here’s an interesting example for me in my life: Growing up, I played basketball. Basketball was my first love and I played at a very competitive level. I played for my high school in Plano, Texas and I played select. I get really aggressive and passionate and feisty (lol) when I play and I didn’t realize just how much of an anger outlet basketball was for me until I stopped.

(PS if you’re into the enneagram, I’m an enneagram 1 and my default negative emotion is anger! It’s all connected.) I played basketball through high school and stopped once I got to college. Within those first two years of college my skin started breaking out bad. Acne is connected to anger. And I think because I lost my outlet to release the anger, it stayed inside me and I started struggling with things like acne and gut issues. Here’s a few others:

The heart is connected to the emotion of happiness. If you’re unhappy, you may feel like your heart is breaking. If you’ve been through an intense break up or grief, you’ve probably experienced a sharp, physical pain in your heart. It’s almost like you can feel your heart breaking. Super interesting.

Anxiety is connected to the lungs, which is why when we’re anxious, we’re also usually out of breath.

Lean Into the Uncomfortable

Call me woo woo, but I do believe that physical pain is often a sigh of emotional pain. We can use any physical pain we’re in to help us better listen to our body.

Now I know that sometimes it’s hard to go there. It’s hard to want to go there. And I know that I’m asking you to be really brave here. But this is where the magic is. Friend, I am asking you to listen to your body and be willing to learn from it. Be willing to sit with whatever comes up, even if – especially if – it’s uncomfortable. If it helps, you can imagine yourself sitting on a rocking chair, overlooking some incredible view, just asking whatever discomfort comes up to sit with you. Be still with it.

Chances are, it will be uncomfortable.

But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Or that you shouldn’t do it.

Often we face resistance with the things that weigh the heaviest on us. Resistance is never a sign that we’re moving in the wrong direction. Rather, it could actually indicate that we’re about to be challenged in a new way that will grow beyond where we currently are. I notice for me that if I’m getting defensive about something, there’s usually something deeper down that I’m protecting. There’s usually a fear or anxiety there that’s trying to keep me safe. I trust my intuition and remind myself that I’m safe. That it’s safe to grow. That it’s safe to be challenged. That it’s okay for me to let my guard down. And usually I end up learning something new or having a cool light bulb moment or connecting deeper with myself or someone else.

So I challenge you, my friend, to lean into that which is uncomfortable. If you sense that something in your body is off, listen. Don’t push it away. If you’re in pain, sit with your pain. See what you can learn from it.

Why We Experience Pain

Your pain is bubbling up to the surface to get your attention. Something is not right. And you’ll notice that at first your body whispers to you. Have you ever experienced this? One day you notice a slight throbbing sensation in your shoulder. But you don’t pay much attention to it. So the throbbing gets worse and worse. It starts impacting everything you do. You start getting headaches or maybe the pain spreads to your neck and back and the pain magnifies until you have no choice but to listen to it!

As a side note, one of the reasons I love movement so much is that it’s an opportunity for us to express whatever it is we’re feeling emotionally. It’s stress relieving. It’s fun. It’s an outlet to let go of anger and anxiety and depression. And you know what else movement does? It gets us out of physical pain.

You may have noticed that I share a lot of mobility flows on my instagram page and on my virtual membership site, Feel Good Monthly. That’s because mobility teaches us how to move our body the way it is designed to move. When your movement is restricted, tight, overly mobile, or injured, you experience pain. But pain isn’t a life sentence — meaning, it isn’t something you have to be stuck with forever.

Pain is something we experience. And that language, the wording you use to describe your pain points has as much of an impact on the pain as the pain itself. Your words matter. How you describe your pain matters.

You breathing deep and slowing down to notice how you feel is the secret to listening to your body. Your breath is your life source. So it makes sense that when you breathe deep, you’re better able to connect with how you’re actually feeling.

PS – I find it easier to start with my physical symptoms first. Sometimes I make a lil mental list. Like, okay my head hurts, my neck and shoulders ache, my tummy feels a bit nauseous. Then I’ll ask myself if there’s anything going on emotionally that could be causing these sensations in my body. Almost all the time, I can pinpoint the deeper root emotion pretty quickly. From there, I’ll say to myself, Alright, I’m listening. What can I do to help?

Often we forget to be our own best friend. We forgot that we are our own best advocate.

Slowing Down Is an Act of Self Love

Slowing down is an act of self love. When you ask yourself questions like this from a place of love, you’ll be guided to a solution. The more you practice this, the better you get.

I know that isn’t always fun to hear. But it’s true: the more you do this, the better you’ll get. The more you trust yourself, the louder your intuition will become. We’ve gotten really good at suppressing our inner voice and turning down the dial on our intuition. But you’re quite intuitional by nature. Our gut feelings are usually spot on.

Speaking of gut feelings. Your gut is the place where you digest food. If you’re experiencing gut issues, you may be having a hard time either listening & trusting your gut or digesting & processing what you’re feeling or an experiencing in life. How interesting is that! It’s all connected.

There’s so much more I could share with you within this conversation but I also want to transition a bit and teach you how listen to your body to know when to rest and when to push through. If you have a specific question on anything I’ve talked about so far, please reach out to me directly on Instagram @thefitflamingo or via email. I’d love to meet you where you’re at and help you on a very real level :)

Listening to Your Body Is a Learned Skill

Listening to your body is a learned skill. It’s something you’ve always known how to do but we have to relearn, or rather unlearn, how to get back to that place of listening.

So many of us are used to saying yes to everything and putting other people first so much so that we often neglect how we feel. If you’re anything like me you can relate to this: If someone wanted to hang out with me, I would rearrange my entire schedule to fit around their schedule. I would overcommit and be so overwhelmed with trying to do it all. Or I would get time with that friend but then have to stay up super late into the evening to finish my work from the day. Often that just left me feeling burned out and resentful. I felt like I was good at being there for other people but I wasn’t ever there for myself. That hits hard, you know.

Over the last few years, I’ve been really working on healing and being secure with my yes and no. I trust that my yes’s and no’s come from a place of love and that I can’t please everyone. That shift hasn’t be an easy one to make but it is freeing.

We are human. We aren’t machines. That means we’re not built to go go go all the time. We need rest. And our body is really good at telling us when we need to rest, if only we have the courage to listen!

When to Rest vs When to Push Through

So how do you know when to pull back and rest and when to push through? Let’s apply this to working out: If you’re sore or sick, should you push through or do you rest? You can apply this to setting boundaries, to scheduling your week, to people pleasing, and so much more too. Take this tool and apply it to the thing that resonates with you. Remember to listen to your gut here.

Here’s how I think through it. When deciding whether I should rest or push through I do this: I imagine myself doing the thing I’m contemplating. I imagine myself doing it joyfully. Having fun doing it. Listening to good music. Smiling. Enjoying the moment. And then I ask, how do I think I’d feel afterwards? If I think that pushing through will actually help me feel better on the other side, I’m like heck yes – let’s push through! If I think pushing through would actually lead me to feeling worse, I confidently pull back and rest.

For example, let’s say I’m super sore after a workout. Sometimes I push through, knowing that I’ll actually feel less sore if I move my body. I may not do another intense HIIT workout. Instead, listening to my body would look like me going for a walk, doing a healing mobility flow, some deep breathing, or pilates. I know that movement is magic and that movement will help my body feel better.

Let’s flip this workout scenario 180 degrees and come at it from another view. Let’s imagine you’re debating whether or not you should workout. If you think that the workout would have you risking injury, that you could be overdoing it, or that your immune system could be weakened – pull back and rest. One day of working out is not worth you hurting yourself. In this scenario, there are so many other forms of movement that could benefit your body more that just pushing through and doing the intense workout.

When it’s all said and done, you’ll have to experiment with this. Sometimes I push through and come out the other side and think, yeah I probably pushed too hard. Okay, lesson learned! Then I think, how can I really love up on myself today? I’ll take a cold shower or a hot bath, I’ll make sure I take my zinc and vitamin c supplements to boost my immune system, I may take my cbd supplements, I’ll make sure to nourish my body with healthy fats and good quality protein. There are so many things you can do and try. It’s incredible. You’re never stuck!!

Setting Boundaries

I apply this to setting boundaries too. If someone wants to hang out, but I feel like saying yes would leave me feeling drained and stressed and burned out, I won’t go. And I’ll use that moment as an opportunity to express myself, my needs, and where I’m at with the other person. Because I believe that I can say no to something or someone from a place of love. I believe that both parties benefit when I’m honest. And when I set boundaries, it gives other people permission to set boundaries too. And that’s a special thing.

So use this tool to help you gauge whether it’s wise for you to say yes and push through or if you should pull back and rest. I can’t tell you the number of times I didn’t want to go to something, but once I was there I felt so happy and fun and glad I came. By imagining what you’ll feel like while you’re doing the *said thing* and after you’ve done *said thing* will really help you gauge whether or not this thing is a yes or no for you. 

By the way, you may notice that if you’re saying yes to things that you actually want to say no to, your physical body gets involved. Maybe you get an intense headache right before you’re supposed to show up to an event or maybe you have a panic attack. Our body is always on our side. If there’s an underlying fear behind why we don’t want to do something, our body will step in to protect us. From there, we can meet ourselves where we’re at. You can breathe deep and listen to what you’re actually feeling. Journal it out. Move your body. Get to the root of it. Sit with it. Seek to understand what you’re experiencing. This is an act of self love!!

Episode Wrap Up

As we wrap this episode up, I want to hit you with the top bullet points:

  • You already have everything you need. You have your breath. You have your intuition. You are supported. You are loved. You have everything you need.
  • Physical pain and emotional pain are closely connected. Sit with your pain. Notice it. Listen to it. Seek to understand it. It will always reveal a deeper root!
  • Lastly, experiment with pushing through and allowing rest. The more you practice it, the better you’ll get.

I’m sending you so much love and I can’t wait to connect with you again soon in the next episode.

Hi, I’m Madison Deaton. As a personal trainer, nutrition and self-love coach, I focus on the inside first, helping you get to the root of why you think and feel the way you do. Then I use functional fitness, holistic nutrition, mindset and self love tools to help you connect with yourself on a deeper level, see things from a new perspective, and unlearn habits that no longer serve you so you can take up space, step into your power, and become the woman of your dreams (friendly reminder: she has been YOU all along). Welcome to The Fit Flamingo! I’m so glad you’re here.

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