Stress Less Tip 14: Know Your Body in Five

Take a brief moment to imagine yourself getting into a minor car accident. You basically know the steps that are to be followed. Most likely the police will be called, you may need to go to the hospital to get checked out, then you will call your insurance company and go from there. This is a stressful event for anyone because it is unexpected and disrupts our life. Imagine if you did not have any clue of what to do? The stress level would be ramped up tenfold.

Knowing the situation helps you navigate through it in a calmer fashion because you have some sense of control in a difficult situation. "Knowing is half the battle," famously said every time I watched an episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon. I did not realize the true depth of the quote until I became an Emergency management planner who spent weeks into months planning out events that may never happen and some that did being that I live in Florida and we get hurricanes yearly. Nevertheless, we planned and prepared because without it we would be thrown into chaos and panic.

Unfortunately, we do not apply that to ourselves. I am even going to take it one step down to simply knowing ourselves. We have to get to know our bodies, not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually as well. The words may make it seem as though it is an easy thing, but getting to know yourself, truly know yourself, is one of the hardest challenges we can face. Nevertheless, we should not be deterred.

Five Introductory Steps to know your body and better handle stress:

  1. Acceptance for who we discover we are. We can start the process slowly, with baby steps by first admitting that there are some things about ourselves that we do not want to know or we do not necessarily like (or will like) and that is okay. We do not need to unleash an avalanche of stuff on the first go around. Also when we come across those things, know that you can make a decision to change and impact them for the better. 
  2. Know your body physically. This can be as simple as looking yourself in the mirror, knowing what you look like, what your height and weights are and what your physical reactions to certain stimuli are. For example, I am always cold. Partly because I have a slight iron deficiency and the other part because I hate the cold. It can also go as deep and range from knowing what your physical ailments are or could potentially be to what your sexual preferences or aversions are. You can start off by scratching the surface in all these aspects and as life progress, go deeper.
  3. Know your body emotionally. Are you emotionally stoic most of the time like myself? Are you sensitive? Do you cry easily at movies or a puppy commercial? Do you anger quickly? You can start small and work your way to the more complex emotions and questions like how do you love? 
  4. Know your body mentally? How do you handle stress? Do you easily get depressed? How is your self-esteem? Any addictions? How do you interpret life problems? 
  5. Know your body spiritually. Stephen Covey says that "the spiritual dimension is your center, your commitment to your value system. It draws upon the sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to timeless truths of humanity." In order to know yourself spiritual, you have to establish a foundational understanding. What does that quote mean to you? What feelings does it invoke? One truth of humanity and the basic concept of spirituality for me is understanding the interconnectivity of humans with each other and nature. Exploring this and fostering spiritual wellness is key to living a full life. Because spirituality includes these five characteristics: "meaning, value, transcendence, connection (with oneself, others, God/supreme power and the environment), and becoming (the growth and progress in life) (Martsolf and Mickley, 1998) it allows us to explore beyond religion.

Understand that when one stressful event is successfully managed, another one is waiting to take form. Life will never be without situations that can potentially cause us distress. The key to handling it and managing it is knowing that not only will things continue to occur but also how you will handle it. Are you equipt to physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to forge on. You will not know your capacity and true strength if you do not start getting to know yourself. This is the first step in building a stress-resilient you.


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