Have you ever not realized how tired you were until you laid down? How tight you were until you got a massage? How stressed you were until you started crying?
Our bodies are remarkably resilient in so many ways - if we are determined to complete a task, we will find a way to do it…regardless of how tired, sore, or stressed we really are. This resiliency can serve us incredibly well in the short term, but eventually, if we push too hard for too long, we can move beyond our capacity and find ourselves on the other end of our threshold. This can present in a variety of different ways, including fatigue, aches and pains, irritability, GI distress, and more.
This, though, is a natural part of the human process; sometimes we need to surpass this threshold in order to know where it even exists. If we can create awareness around this and learn from it, we are more likely to detect these signs earlier and prevent a future episode.
It’s only when we ignore the signs that we can run into trouble.
If we listen closely enough, our bodies are constantly sending us signals. If we actively choose to ignore these signals, our bodies will make a last ditch effort to get our attention. Fatigue, pain, and irritability now turn into injury, chronic pain, or illness,. Once we hit this point, we have no choice but to pay attention.
From here, we typically will go see a doctor, Physical Therapist, or any other specialist to help us get back on our feet. Some journeys may be longer than others, but with persistence and patience, we all have the unique and astonishing ability to heal.
It is here that the next phase of the journey begins. We are no longer stuck in the rainstorm we once felt trapped in; we begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel and the flowers begin to bloom. Our only hope is that we can stay here long enough to smell the roses. If you are currently in or have ever found yourself in this situation, below are some tips to keep you feeling good:
1.) Forgive, but don’t forget. It’s important that rather than resenting our bodies for doing this to us, we forgive (or perhaps even thank) our bodies for whatever pain, injury, or illness we have gone through. With this being said, know that if we dive directly back into the lifestyle that got us here in the first place, we may find ourselves right back where we started. Use your experience as a lesson going forward and begin implementing the necessary changes into your life.
2.) Listen to the signals. As previously discussed, our bodies are constantly sending us signals, but sometimes it takes a more severe episode to get our full attention. Do your best to periodically check in with your body and bring awareness to these signals. If you are tired, rest. If you are anxious, step away and go for a walk. If something hurts, don’t push it. Listen closely, then respond intentionally.
3.) One step at a time. Once you start feeling good, you may find yourself wanting to jump right back into dong everything that you had to put to the wayside while you were injured or sick. My advice would be to take it slow and ease your way back in. Try adding one or two things back into your week and see how your body responds. If it’s exercise, try half (or maybe even less than half) of what you were doing before and then go from there.
4.) Let go of the fear. With this being said, we may have the opposite response and begin retreating away from these things out of fear of re-injuring ourselves or getting sick again. This is where trust comes in; trust that your body is resilient and can handle the demands of whatever you want to pursue. Be confident in your capabilities and strength.
5.) Go enjoy yourself. Last but not least, go live your life. We most likely dealt with a few weeks, months, or maybe even years of discomfort, so we deserve to go out and do what we enjoy. The work that you have put in to get yourself to a place of feeling better will be well worth the reward.
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS, PAS