Your smart body: why listening to your body pays off

Your smart body: why listening to yourself pays off

I am sitting at my computer today with a recovering upper lip. Let me explain. I once contracted a cold sore, just like at least a third of humanity. Normally I don’t even notice it. But sometimes I do, very much so. This mostly happens in extremely stressful times. I’m usually pretty good at keeping my stress levels down. I generally listen to myself carefully. But sometimes that’s simply not enough. Sometimes so much happens at once that the bucket can only overflow. And that has been the case recently.

As I wrote earlier, quite a lot has happened lately. Within a year my dog, a very good friend and my mother-in-law passed away. In addition, we had to move three times, twice without any hope for a permanent home and the last time to another country. And my book came out. I was en route picking up the pre-sale books, which I was to sign, while we were arranging the funeral of the latter via a WhatsApp group. Pretty tough times.

What happens when you don’t listen to your body

Before I knew I was going to emigrate, I had already agreed that I would be present at the Witch Orleans Market and do the final ritual. Of course, I enjoyed meeting my readers in person, but it also meant I had to get back on the road within two months of the exhausting last move. And there was a complicated process involved. After all, both books and calendars had to end up in the Veluwe somehow, just like all kinds of promotional materials and myself of course. I knew beforehand that this wasn’t such a good idea. I felt an enormous tension in my body whenever I even thought about the upcoming trip. I slept badly and dreamed intensely. I clearly needed some rest and was actually quite comfortable, over in my quiet corner of Ireland.

But yeah, cancelling wasn’t really an option. A deal is a deal. So, I went into action mode again and travelled to the Netherlands against my better judgement. And I paid the price. The market was a great success, but afterwards I fell apart. And this cold sore announced itself. By now I’ve been home for a while, but today is the first day I actually don’t feel like death warmed up. And I know one thing for sure: I will stay home for a long, long time.

Sometimes not listening has dire consequences

The moral of this story? Your body will tell you if and when you’re taking things too far and your gut is very capable of setting limits. Listening to them is a good idea. I know all too well that this isn’t always easy. The story above shows this on a small scale; this time around, I only have a cold sore. I’m taking my rest now, so everything will be fine again.

But I have had more far-reaching signals from my body during my lifetime and have experienced what happens when you systematically ignore them. As a result, I was chronically ill for much of my life (note: this link takes you to an automatically translated page, the language may be a bit off). From an early age, I had asthma and was on medication every day, some of them really nasty ones. Sometimes even those didn’t help, and I ended up in bed with pneumonia—and again strong medication to remedy that.

It’s never too late to start listening to your body

It’s been a very long time since I beat asthma, but I couldn’t have done that if I hadn’t at some point realized how smart my body actually was. When I realized that my body had been trying to tell me all along that the way I was living was not good for me. And when I started listening and changed my life. This is not to say that a chronic illness is easy to deal with. Or that every disease can be solved. The causes and circumstances are sometimes too complicated for that.

I’m all well and healthy now and I have been for years and years, but it wasn’t easy. It required a tonne of adjustments, some of which weren’t exactly simple or obvious. I certainly couldn’t have done it without the support of those around me. It was also a lengthy process, but it was more than worth it. And everything started with me listening to my body. My smart, smart body…