Taking the time to listen to your body is just as important as what you're putting into it. Diet and exercise are critical to the functionality of your body, but do you pay attention to how you feel from head to toe on a daily basis?
Body scanning is a way to understand the ways in which the decisions you're making throughout the day effect your body, mind and mood. By paying attention to every aspect of how you feel before and after decisions, you can alter these choices and make more conscious decisions in the future.
But how does it work?
Essentially, body scanning should be done before you eat/drink/move. Luckily, it's pretty much the easiest thing to do in terms of self care because it costs nothing and all you have to do is pay attention.
For example: Say you wake up every morning and hit the snooze 5 times, roll out of bed, chug a cup of coffee and jump in a steaming hot shower. E-v-e-r-y d-a-y. But think about it, how often are you still tired when you wake up? How does coffee make you feel both emotionally and physically? Are you still tired after you shower? Do you even know the answers to these questions?
So try this: When you wake up tomorrow morning, hit snooze (just in case you fall back asleep) but try to stay awake. Lay there and think about how you feel. Did you have a bad dream? Is your body sore? Do you feel groggy or are you starting to feel more alert? How light is the room? How do you want your day to go?
Now think about how you can make changes: If your body is sore, do a little stretching. If it's taking you a while to feel awake, you could get to bed earlier. If the room is still dark, maybe keep your shades open at night to let light in in the morning or invest in a sunrise lamp.
Does your coffee make you jittery? Do you feel you can't get through the morning without it? Maybe you need to make some changes to find something that gives you a little energy but doesn't make you feel that way.
Other times you can body scan:
Before and after you workout - pay attention to the before and after. Maybe you didn't want to work out in the first place but afterwards your mood lifted. Maybe you felt heavy or stiff before the workout and now you feel light on your feet.
Before and after you eat something - pay attention to how certain foods make you feel. Does your body get bloated and uncomfortable after you have a cheese plate? Do you feel better when you have a lot of leafy greens?
Before and after sex - not in the mood? Pay attention to your body and why you might have a low sex drive. Did you workout that day? Are you close to your period? Maybe you need to see a doctor if you've felt this way for a while. Or if you are in the mood - how does your body feel before and after? Do you feel closer to the other person?
Before and after you complete a difficult task - Do you get a sense of accomplishment after you finish a difficult project and all the sudden have a ton of energy as a result? You can pay attention to these types of trends and take advantage of it, such as planning a workout after a project is due.
Kick it up a notch
To fully take advantage of body scanning you can journal or track the results to see the trends over time to make the best decisions possible in the future. By looking at how things affect your body, mind and mood you'll be able to see where these changes can be made.