This Is What Happens When You're In Tune With Your Body

The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demands of having kids, a job — life has felt particularly heavy for many of us. It's no wonder that health has taken a significant hit as of late for a wide variety of people — not only were gyms closed for a good chunk of time due to the pandemic, but the constant stress of balancing working from home, getting your kids to school, worrying about your kids while they're at school, trying to keep the house organized, don't even get us started on finances — it's all taking a toll. If you've been feeling worn down than usual or are perhaps experiencing odd physical sensations, it could very well be the result of stress.


As detailed by the Mayo Clinic, "Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes." While you may not be experiencing those extremes yet, it should not be unsaid that stress can significantly impact your physical health in ways you may not have predicted. How to combat such experiences? There are helpful steps you can take to get in tune with your body and mind — not only will your stress likely diminish, but taking the time to get to know your body will lead to a variety of positive results, such as a renewed relationship with daily exercise, a more positive outlook on other people, nipping internalized fatphobia in the bud, and so much more.


Commit to getting to know your body

In a peer-reviewed article on WebMD, getting to know your body starts with paying attention to daily cues and signs. It can be incredibly easy to write off fatigue and burnout as the results of hard work, but don't be so quick to put those negative physical experiences on the backburner: Hidden in that exhaustion is your body trying to tell you to take a beat and relax. Pay attention to what WebMD calls the "Red Flags" — anything that would suggest you're experiencing a medical emergency. But the whole point of being in tune with your body is to avoid said emergencies, and there are many things you can commit to before things get that drastic.


For instance, if you're an avid gym-goer, start paying attention to any aches and pains. If you have ongoing pain that just will not go away, it's likely a sign that you need to pump the brakes and give your body a couple of rest days. Start paying attention to other habits that involve your body and a physical sensation, such as your eating habits, how many hours of sleep you're getting a night, and if you develop any new allergies or reactions — these are all helpful cues from your body that you should be paying attention to. If you want to be in tune with everything going on, committing to these signs and noting them is a huge step in the right direction.

Bodily expectations will start to diminish

So let's say that you're committing to the steps above and are paying attention to the hints your body is giving you on a daily basis — now what? You likely will want to improve your body in some capacity, as is the habit for most people. And while obtainable goals are always good to have on the horizon, we suggest taking some time to really sit in your own skin. How does it feel, now that you're paying attention to your body, to embrace your current size? What "flaws" quote-on-quote can you simply embrace rather than reject at every possible turn? Why do you feel a need to lose weight, be smaller? Why not simply take up room?


"Human life involves beauty and suffering for everyone," Kara Loewentheil, a women's coach, explained to Mind Body Green about bodily expectations and meeting certain societal expectations. "The more you can really internalize this idea, the less attached you will be to meeting certain conventional beauty norms because you will understand that they will never deliver what you want. Peace and happiness have to come from inside."

So, with that said, the more in tune you are with your body — and the more you embrace it for what it is now rather than what you hope it could be — the more likely you are to reject what society has told you to look like. Sounds like a win-win to us.

Daily movement will start to feel good

If you've ever felt that you must drag yourself to the gym, you're not alone. If you're committed to listening to your body's cues and are really in tune with its needs, getting your daily exercise in will start to feel good.


While heading to the gym seems like the easiest way to get a workout in, don't think that your journey toward body harmony and wellness has to rely on going to the land of weights and sideways glances. As noted by Elite Medical Center, you can do plenty of exercises without having to venture to the gym, and a lot of them can be done at home! In between meetings during your work-from-home day? Use your body weight and get a couple of squats in, and you'll be shocked at how much of a good kind of burn you feel after some reps. 

If you want to take advantage of your work-from-home status, embrace the sit-to-stand exercise, something Elite Medical Center categorizes as a "couch potato exercise." Start your day off on a good note and get a walk in — simply going around the block or walking a half mile to your local coffee shop and back will start to add up. Remember to pay attention to what your body is telling you while you get your movement in, and remember that consistency is critical.


Gratitude will start to top your list of priorities

With so much going on in our daily lives — not to mention the stresses of the world at large — it can be difficult to take a moment and practice gratitude. But, as you become more in tune with your body and make peace with your relationship with yourself, chances are you'll extend that perspective to the world around you. And simply put, if you have a roof over your head and food in your refrigerator, you're better off than the majority of people around the world. Want to become more grateful and practice daily gratitude but don't know where to start? The expert panel at Forbes lists helpful tips that can get you started.


"Think of good things in your life first thing in the morning before you start the day. Even the smallest thing works. Write these down and spend a moment feeling thankful for them," panel member Mekky Hwang explained. "It will start your day off with positive feelings, which leads to a better mood and better productivity throughout the day. Oftentimes, it takes very little to switch your mood, and starting the day in a good mood goes a long way." Another helpful tip? "Smell the roses. Figuratively and literally, stop and appreciate what's around you," Samuel Thimothy suggested. "In almost all levels of existence, there are opportunities to be optimistic about the present and the future."

You'll likely stop judging other people's bodies

Being in tune with your body sounds pretty great at this point. You likely have a better relationship with exercise, your perspective on gratitude and being thankful for what you have around you has increased, and your bodily expectations are now appropriate. But what about the way you view other people's bodies? While you may not want to admit it, judging other people's appearances is a pastime for many, and while we may not vocalize these opinions, having them in the first place is a negative practice. 


If you're in tune with your own body and are paying attention to its physical and mental needs, what's to say that the person you may have judged walking down the street isn't engaging in the same practice? When you think of it that way, you'll likely nip the judgment of others in the bud. "We are sold this idea that looking a certain way will bring us approval, affection, love, respect, value, etc.," Kara Loewentheil explained to Mind Body Green. "But the whole thing is a myth. Looking a certain way will not make you happy."

So, with that in mind, be aware of not only your body's physical experiences as you're becoming more in tune with its needs but pay attention to what you're thinking and passing judgment on. If your ire is directed toward someone else simply because of their appearance, it's time to reassess.


Your relationship with the gym will likely change

Remember how we said the daily movement would start to feel good, but you don't need to go to a gym to accomplish it? Well, that logic rings true and will if you want to stay at home, but as you become more in tune with your body and its needs, you might want to start exploring gym options. Doing "couch potato exercises" and getting squats in between meetings will bring movement back into your life positively, but hitting the gym can have many more benefits than simply prioritizing your physical health. As noted by CNET, moving around other people will bring a community approach to your wellness journey and may even result in more time dedicated to your overall well-being.


"Whoever you move with, whether it's a walking group or maybe a group class, because of the way exercise alters our brain chemistry and outlook, you start to feel a true sense of connection with the people that you're moving with," health psychologist Dr. Kelly McGonigal explained. "It's why people will talk about people who they work out with as their 'fitness fam.' Because it does give us a sense of belonging, it helps build relationships that can be true friendships and sources of support."

You're in tune with your body, you're grateful on a daily basis, and you have a meaningful sense of community. Look at all the ways your life will change simply by paying attention.

Addressing internalized fatphobia will become a priority

We've all judged others in our daily life. And while becoming more in tune with your body will certainly help with this hurdle, there is a far bigger mountain that you may need to address as you become more aware of your body and the bodies of those around you — internalized fatphobia. As described by Boston Medical Center, fatphobia "is the implicit and explicit bias of overweight individuals that is rooted in a sense of blame and presumed moral failing." Not only is fatphobia extremely harmful to the person you're projecting such feats and biases on, but it's also an incredibly negative frame of mind. Becoming more in tune with your own body will bring any internalized fatphobia to the surface, and it's important to address it head-on.


As noted by Dance Magazine, there are several ways you can battle internalized fatphobia. First and foremost, identify who you are fearing or mentally fighting — is it someone you're close to, is it society in general, or is it yourself? From there, Dance Magazine suggests self-awareness tactics and consistent self-reflection — this combination could be your saving grace. Try seeing food as fuel rather than a reward for working out. Consistently remind yourself that everyone has fat, and people aren't fat — fat is a tangible thing, not an adjective. Remember that size is never a reflection of self-worth.

You'll be very aware of what influencers and accounts you follow on social media

You'll likely begin to pay more attention to the media you consume daily. Any Millennial will tell you that watching "America's Next Top Model" as a youngster firmly solidified their sense of fatphobia and body dysmorphia, and in the age of social media, Photoshop, and fabricated online personas, physical authenticity is a far cry from the norm. As you become more aware of your body, grateful for its role in your life, and see movement as a healthy practice rather than a punishment, we suggest doing a scan on social media. Who do you follow, especially when it comes to influencers? Are you seeing sponsored content promoting weight loss gummies and waist trainers? Are you taking in harmful content without even realizing it? Answering these questions and being aware of who you follow will likely hit your radar as you embrace this self-love chapter of your life.


"Seeing others' curated, polished images of only happy moments or attractive photos can set up an unrealistic expectation of ourselves and the destructive experience of constantly comparing oneself with others," Dr. Christine Moutier explained to Self of unhealthy social media practices, further suggesting that constant social media use can make us feel even more isolated. So, take this as a cue to do a purge — or even a social media cleanse — and follow content and creators that you're more personally aligned with.

Approaching fashion will feel less daunting

Shopping for new clothes can be one of the most daunting tasks, and sometimes we even talk ourselves out of going to the mall before we've left the house. It's a vicious cycle, but if you're becoming more in tune with your body and are committed to practicing a new mindset full of gratitude and self-love, going shopping will feel more like a fun task rather than a dreadful punishment. Mind Body Green notes that instead of going shopping and only focusing on hiding your self-described "problem areas," think of dressing as an extension of your gratitude. You have one body in this life, so rock the skin you're in. Have you wanted to wear a pencil skirt and a cute blazer for the holiday season? Just buy the skirt and rock it with the confidence you have. Think that you're too tall for heels? We're here to tell you that tall girls are confident girls, and you have permission to take up space.


Here are a couple of other things from us that might help. Sure, going to the store and navigating sizes and numbers is never a fun task, but remember this — you're the only person who knows what the inside tag says on your jeans. Who will know if you're wearing a size 29 or a size 31? All that matters is that you feel confident in what you're wearing, so throw out the rule book and have some fun.

Body neutrality will become a game changer

You've likely heard of the body positivity movement, and as we discuss your journey toward body harmony, you may have thought this is a talking ad for self-love. While embracing all the core beliefs of body positivity can certainly do you a world of good, we want to give you another option — body neutrality. As noted by Very Well Mind, body neutrality is just that: being neutral with your body. You don't love it; you don't hate it; your body simply is. If you want to be in tune with it and embrace all its highs, lows, and everything in between, having a neutral relationship with your body might be your best bet.


Dr. Kristen Fuller writes for Very Well Mind that body neutrality is about "loving your body for what it is, even if it isn't 'perfect' according to society's standards" before presenting a rather alarming statistic. "One survey found that 83% of women and 74% of men are dissatisfied with their physical appearance at one time or another, with this dissatisfaction occurring most often when looking in a mirror, in a bathing suit, or when clothes shopping," Dr. Fuller includes in her article for Very Well Mind. Such numbers are alarming, to say the very least, and while society may never be satisfied with how we present ourselves daily, working toward being in tune with your body and being neutral about its appearance could be the combination you're looking for.


Working with a therapist will likely become a worthwhile investment

You can take many steps toward paying attention to your body, becoming in tune with its needs, and extending those practices outward. Not only will your relationship with movement and the gym change, you likely won't judge those around you; you may even enjoy shopping, and doing a purge on social media could change things for the better. But if you're still struggling to listen to your body and approach it with the love and care that it deserves, Nylon suggests seeking out a therapist or mental health professional with expertise in the connection between physical and mental health.


"We recognize size and health as two different things that are not intricately connected, and we shouldn't make assumptions based on size," Dr. Rachel Millner, who specializes in eating disorder care, told Nylon. "We can help people use behaviors that could support their health and their wellbeing that have nothing to do with body size or weight loss."

So, what are you waiting for? There is a whole world ready for you to embrace your body for all it is, all it's been, and all it will be — you got this!