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Listen to Your Body

Jan 15, 2024

If you ask me what I remember about my residency training, all I remember is that it was tough. I was a lot younger then, married with no children. The one thing that made a lasting impression for me was what happened in my very last rotation of the internal medicine residency program.

I was assigned to be one of the senior residents in the medical ICU. Working twenty-seven plus hours every third night, running around the hospital seeing consults, running codes – been there, done that several times.

It was one of the last days of the ICU rotation. At that time, I was fortunate enough to live in the dormitories in the hospital campus. I woke up in the morning and felt light-headed as I was walking to the bathroom. That was odd, I thought. I sat down on the toilet and felt my surroundings fading away. There was an invisible growing barrier between me and the bathroom. I was getting more and more numb by the second. As quickly as I could, I struggled to put my head downward to prevent myself from blacking out.

Before I could process, there was diarrhea. I managed to go back to my bed to rest. Thankfully I did not lose consciousness. All this time I was focusing on going to work in the ICU on time. My apartment was literally up the hill from the hospital.

There is a small and somewhat distant voice that was trying to tell me to stay home because I was not feeling well. I still remember at that time, I was focusing on working and not burdening someone else to do my shift.

Somehow, I managed to arrive at the ICU without passing out. However, I was not able to get up from sitting down without feeling light-headed. I rested well enough to get up, motioned to the resident call room and collapsed on the bed. That was not a good feeling at all. I was not in pain yet I felt sick. My attending physician checked on me and started me on intravenous fluids. My intern went to get me some Gatorade. I was sent home and I did not feel well enough to leave immediately.

Working till you drop is not a healthy practice. You do not have to do this to show your dedication to work or your serious work ethic. It is far more important to listen to your body when it is trying to tell you something.

You listen to your body better when you are more in tune with it. Our mind and body are in one, and they work together. Be mindful of your body in relation to your mind. Connect to your body – physically and emotionally. What is it trying to tell you?

Pay attention to the signals and messages your body is trying to convey to you. When you are yawning every thirty seconds, your body is probably trying to tell you to go to sleep. If you are having stomach upset and standing up cause you to nearly pass out, your body is probably trying to tell you to stay home and not go to work.

To be fully connected with your mind and body, it is important to listen to your body and pay attention to how you are feeling physically and emotionally.

There are always going to be different forces surrounding you and within you. There are always going to be different opinions about what to do or what next step to take.

Well-being of a person is listening to your mind and body with love and respect. Ask what your body wants and what it needs. Are you making decisions based on the harmonious relationship, out of love for yourself?

When you listen to your body and act according to its needs, you will be open to finding ways to honor your body’s requests. It is okay to take a day off from the ICU rotation when you are about to faint. This does not make you irresponsible for your work. In fact, it is irresponsible not to listen to your body.

A loving relationship with yourself is when your mind is respecting and honoring what the body is telling you. There are going to be external voices. They may be telling you to do things, things not necessarily in the best interest of your well-being. When you love and honor yourself, you will put you first. The optimal you will get things done more efficiently. The optimal you will get to enjoy life more. The optimal you will live in alignment with your values.

Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?


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