Listen to your body

"If you listen to your body when it whispers, it never has to scream"


Listening to your body: it might sound easy, but… how do you do it? About 17 years ago I went way over my physical (and emotional) limits, since I had a lot on my plate, both at work and at home. I then developed shingles: a phenomenon that occurs when you experience too much stress and have too little resistance. My body clearly indicated that it had reached its limits and that it was time for rest. Under good guidance, I then gradually rebuilt my activities. Since then I have paid more attention to my limits and I sooner take a step back when things get too much for me.


What helps me to do this, is the image of a 'traffic light'. This works as follows: there are days when I feel good and have a lot of energy, which I call the 'green days'. I can then get to work and do a lot of things. There are also the 'red days', which are days when I am sick, lie in bed, and cancel my appointments. Finally, there is the area in between: these are days when I don't feel completely fit. For example, I have a sore shoulder, a headache, or a bad night's sleep. Then I allow myself an 'orange day' that day. On an orange day, I set the bar a little lower, I leave what can wait until tomorrow and I take more breaks. This way I can recover a bit. After one or two orange days, the lights often turn green again.


In the time I have been using this traffic light method, I have discovered the following: the  "orange days" are sometimes just as productive as the green ones. The very fact that I slow down means I can more easily distinguish main issues from side issues and see solutions more quickly. I also often feel more creative. In addition, I have discovered that since I allow myself an "orange day" more often, I have fewer 'red days'. Because I listen to my body's signals earlier, these signals don't have to keep getting worse. Being sick is then apparently less often necessary.


The period during which I went over my limits was difficult and I wouldn't like to go through it again. Yet during that time, I learned to listen to my body more often; I know the signals better now. So, how do you hear your body whispering? What signals is it giving off? When your body lets itself be heard, feel free to give yourself an "orange day" and see how this works for you!


By Margit van Tuijl


Life coach at TINT

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TINT Eindhoven

Eindhoven University of Technology

Atlas building, 2nd floor

Groene Loper 3

5612 AE Eindhoven



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