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Red Flags

“I learnt the hard way the importance of listening to my body, when I suffered from chronic fatigue in my teens. I went through a confusing cocktail of physical and mental symptoms over many months, and needed to really pay attention to figure out what the triggers were. It was a hard time, but it gave me the gift of instincts.” Love, Olivia x

Why should I listen to my body?

Listening kindly to your body and giving it what it needs is the ultimate act of self care

Pain, tiredness, cravings, aversions, anxiety and gut instincts are all messages from our body that something needs to shift. It knows what we need to be healthy and happy.

Aside from improved wellbeing, you might also sharpen your intuition, learn to love and trust yourself more, heal your relationship with food, and feel more content in your life.

Have you ever got to the end of the day and realised that your shoulders are like rocks, or that you’ve needed a wee or had a headache for hours, or haven’t drunk any water all day? What about all the times we wait – sometimes days or even years – to give ourselves a break or some kindness while everyone else is asking for more more more, and then suddenly we flip, sometimes scaring ourselves as much as the kids..?

This is your permission to tune into what your body and mind are telling you, and to meet your own needs by paying attention to the quiet subtle whispers, before they turn into loud frightening screams. Your body wants you to be well, and it will tell you if you’re not. We don’t suddenly reach boiling point out of the blue – the stress builds up. And we don’t suddenly reach physical and emotional burnout – it creeps up on us over time. There are always warning signs and early symptoms – our body’s way of telling us that something needs to shift – and if we pay attention, we can catch ourselves before things spill over.

Everyone has different physical and emotional warning signs. Maybe you get impatient, snappy, judgy, or over-controlling. Maybe your back knots up, your digestion gets churny, or you get an outbreak of spots. Stress and anxiety can show up in a million ways, and don’t go away on their own, so ignoring the signs only causes bigger problems later on. As Brene Brown says, “the body keeps the score, and it always wins”. We’re really good at suppressing these messages with food, wine, social media and Netflix, and society has convinced us that it’s normal to feel a bit knackered and broken most of the time. But it’s so important to pay attention to the early signs so that we can catch these stress spirals early on.

So take this as an invitation to pause, check in with your body, and notice if anything feels out of balance. Once you’re familiar with your own red flags, be kind to yourself by paying attention, and scheduling regular moments of guilt-free nourishment to even things out. Imagine you’re like a pressure cooker filling up with stress throughout the day – there needs to be a release valve to blow off steam otherwise you’ll explode (and we’ve all been there!). So make a list of things that take the pressure off for you – is it exercise, nature, hugs, music, water, sleep, or something else? Listen to yourself like a kind friend, and give yourself what you need.

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