While it is the body’s nature to balance and heal itself, we are able to override many of our natural instincts by exercising our free will. Our society encourages us to mistrust or ignore our bodies, but when we do this, we make ourselves less healthy, and deliberately create imbalances and dis-ease within ourselves. The following are all-too-common examples of how we override our body’s natural instincts and signals, for the sake of “convenience” or “inconvenience” depending on the situation.
Examples of Ignoring Our Body Signals
Not Going To The Bathroom When “Nature Calls”
Ignoring the bodily urge to evacuate is a big issue, especially for women. Not urinating when you need to, teaches the bladder muscles to retain more urine than it was designed to. After years of gravity pulling the heavy liquid downward, the bladder muscles become overextended and lose elasticity. It’s no wonder, that as women age they develop urinary incontinence. And, holding your bowel movements also conditions the body not to evacuate the bowels. When this practice is combined with eating fast and processed foods that your body doesn’t know how to digest, you become chronically constipated. Granted, many workplaces and work environments don’t make it easy or convenient to use the bathroom, but you must do what you can to regularly use the restroom throughout your work shift. It’s not unusual for nurses to feel unable to use the bathroom during an entire 12 hour shift, and many companies only give workers a 30 minute lunch break, and two 10 – 15 minute breaks during their shift. This again, does not make it easy or convenient to use the bathroom whenever you need to. Unhealthy practices like these, not only train the body to work against its instincts, but, they cause us to retain toxic waste in our bodies for much longer periods of time than nature ever intended.
Don’t ignore your body’s signals to use the bathroom. Make every attempt possible, to make regular trips to the restroom. If your workplace proves to be a challenge, then consider getting an exception prescription from your healthcare practitioner explaining the health need for regular bathroom trips. Sad if this is necessary, but you are ultimately in charge of your health, so do take charge whenever and wherever you need to.
Not Sleeping When We’re Tired
Rather than taking an afternoon siesta or “power nap” when we’re sleepy, and need a bit of mental and physical refreshing, many instead reach for stimulants to override this instinct and signal from our body, and drink down caffeinated beverages, eat sugar, smoke a cigarette, etc. While our ancestors awakened at dawn and went to bed around sundown, through the invention of artificial light and the 24 hour the-world-never-stops activity, we push through and ignore our body’s signals for rest. When we do finally lay down to sleep, we wonder why we have disrupted sleep patterns, and constantly feel fatigued and lethargic. The body is meant to have between 7 -9 hours of sleep each and every day. Overriding our body’s need for rest, disrupts our body’s ability to repair and rejuvenate itself, not to mention, causes an unhealthy abundance of stress hormones to constantly be surging throughout our body, causing a cascade of unhealthy consequences, not to mention puts us on the fast-track for aging.
Again, take charge of your lifestyle and do whatever it takes to get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night. Also, be sure to use your bedroom for only 2 things, sleeping and sex. Take out any sleep disruptive devices, such as televisions and computers. Make your bedroom as dark as possible to stimulate melatonin production, which is necessary for sleep, and lower your thermostat at night as well. Commit to doing a bedroom makeover if you need to. Sleep is essential folks, and to constantly override this necessary body need is incredibly harmful to our health and well-being.
Not Knowing When To Stop Eating
One of the most common ways we override our body’s natural intelligence, is by misusing food. Too many people eat, when they are not really hungry. Sometimes this is due to bad habits formed during childhood, when well-meaning parents over-prepared food, rewarded with food, and forced children to eat everything on their plate because there were “starving children in the world”. And just as often, people eat and over-eat because they are angry, lonely, tired, bored or sad. Emotional eating doesn’t satisfy hunger, it satisfies the trigger emotion attached to the eating.
When we eat productively, we direct ourselves to be conscious of what type of foods we are putting into our bodies, and how it can benefit us. This is when we are truly using food as our medicine. On the other hand, recreational eating, which often occurs during holidays and other celebrations, often involves mindless and gluttonous eating due to peer pressure, obligation and emotion. Start learning to be mindful of what type of eating pattern you are engaging in, every time you prepare or order a meal. Is it productive eating, or recreational eating? “Let food be thy medicine.” only applies when we are productive eaters.
Our bodies are much smarter than we sometimes give them credit for. Learning to pay better attention to the signals they give us, and not trying to override them, will help us lead healthier lives, with a lot less risk of body imbalances, ill-health and disease.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews