A popular phrase used these days in the holistic health world is to “listen to your body.” Perhaps you’ve heard this before, or even implement in your own life – be it with:
- How you feel when you eat certain foods.
- How you feel when you’re better hydrated vs dehydrated.
- How you feel when you exercise too much or too little.
- How you feel when you give yourself a consistent sleep routine.
Have you practiced this by paying attention to your body’s patterns with sickness? If you are thinking, “Uh, yeah, absolutely!” then great! However, if you’re like me, I have been surprisingly slow at learning this. Even in my early thirties, I’m still learning some new things I’ve not noticed or paid attention to with how my body feels just before I get sick. I have found this a curious and helpful thing to pay closer attention to because the better I get with detecting early signs of sickness (like catching a cold) the better I can proactively deal with it to shorten/dampen its severity.
I’ll share a couple of my own observations. I will be honest, I have no idea if this is what you experience – each person is unique, but this may give you some inspiration on what to pay attention to, and how you assess yourself.
I started to notice that, in 1-2 days prior to coming down with a cold or sinus infection, I’d wake up surprisingly groggy (like, groggier than my usual). After some time and finally getting my day going, I’d be fine. Then, I’d get sick one or two days later. Well, after a couple of times of this, I realized “Oh, that’s my body talking to me – perhaps it’s fighting something in its infancy.”
Then, after paying attention to those extra groggy mornings (assuming there were no other obvious variables I could attribute a reason for why I felt more tired), I then noticed I’d have general body stiffness – even though I didn’t do any extra movement or exercise that would account for it. Interesting.
Lastly – and this may be coincidental, but I found it curious that this most recent round of sickness I caught, I was extra moody the day before. The day was beautiful, my wife and I got all our weekend chores/tasks done and out of the way – there was NO reason for me to be moody or down about the day, but I was. When I shared this with some others, I didn’t get blank stares but I got head nods of agreement.
So, what patterns might you notice or begin noticing in your body? The first step is to be mindful and think back on the day or two prior for clues next time you get sick. Retracing steps is the easiest place to start. Writing observations in a journal can’t hurt either so you can refer back to it. Once you pick up on a few patterns that, more often than not, are a precursor to getting sick – you might be able to act on it sooner with some things to help mitigate the sickness and recover faster. Examples could be:
- Getting extra sleep ahead of time.
- Taking it easier, physically.
- Boosting yourself with extra immune-supporting nutrients like Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin C, and others.
- Keeping well hydrated.
- Keeping warm (heat helps fight off infection).
- Nourishing foods and mitigating extra sugar.
The more we learn about our bodies, the faster we can respond with appropriate action to feel the best we can, whether sick or not sick. See what you learn about yourself in this area!
To your health and wellbeing,
Lead Health Coach, Dan Tribley
EPIC Functional Medicine