By Carol Phillips
Did you know you were born with all the tools needed to take great care of yourself? Our instinct continuously tells us what we need to do, not only to survive but, to thrive throughout our lives. Instinct is defined as “Behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level.” (Merriam-Webster online dictionary) Learning to be consciously aware of these reactions, or messages, makes it easier for us to make healthy decisions throughout each day, resulting in improved health.
Compare infants’ and toddlers’ behaviors to adults’ behaviors. Infants and toddlers are primarily concerned only with themselves and their wellbeing. Their behaviors show they are listening to their gut instincts. Their brains are driving them to learn and grow – and they are listening.
For example, infants and children wake when their bodies tell them to wake and sleep when their bodies tell them to sleep. Likewise, with eating, crawling, walking, talking, and other early childhood development milestones. These changes are vital for growth, development, and overall health.
Adults, on the other hand, do not always listen to their instinctive voices and often make choices that are against what is best for them. Ponder this: When do we, as humans, begin to ignore our gut instincts and talk ourselves out of prioritizing our health? And why? What are the internal and external forces that contribute to this phenomenon that pulls us away from health?
The above comparison illustrates the importance of listening to your gut instinct; it is there for a reason. Your instinct is the little voice in your head that tells you what is best for you and what is not. As humans, we often spend a great deal of time talking ourselves out of listening to those crucial messages, which can get us into trouble very quickly, especially when it comes to important decisions that affect our health.
Spend time noticing when your brain sends you a message telling you what is best for you. For example, after sitting in front of your computer for a long period, you know you should get up and move around because your muscles are becoming stiff or your back is becoming sore. That is the voice advocating what is best for you in that moment. Also, notice when you are quick to counter with something like, “I need to finish this work first.” That follow-up thought is what can pull you away from health. The countering thoughts are often not in your health’s best interest.
Using that example, learn to listen to the first voice and take a break to move your body. Perhaps get away from your desk for a few minutes and drink some water and eat a healthy snack. Even a few minutes is better than ignoring the voice of reason. In fact, I just took a break from writing this article to go for a quick walk. The fresh air and exercise helped to organize my thoughts. What can you do to connect with your instinct throughout each day?
The next time your internal instinct tells you to make a healthy decision, think of it as invaluable advice because that’s exactly what it is. Your inner voice, or wisdom, is your best friend, working hard to take great care of you. Follow your instinct’s advice when it is leading you in a healthy direction. You’ll benefit in countless ways that will pleasantly surprise you.
Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Her company, Health Design, offers health, wellness, and safety services designed to help companies increase profit. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at www.HealthDesignNH.com.