The best thing about your body is its honesty. While your mind is known to play tricks on you (I’m fine, really!) your body cannot tell a lie. When it needs fuel, you feel hungry. When it needs sleep, you feel tired.
When your body needs to recharge, it can make you feel all kinds of ways you might not realize are signals for mental clarity.
1. Distracted You know those afternoons when you sit down to get work done, but every few minutes you get up to do anything other than the task at hand? You’re familiar with that restless-all-over feeling where you can’t get comfortable in your chair, not matter how many cups of lavender tea you make, soothing songs you play, or pillows you place behind your lower back? This antsy, distracted, can’t concentrate or sit still feeling is a major indicator that it’s time to meditate. Close the computer and your eyes. Meditation can help you regain that much-needed focus.
2. Headache There’s nothing worse than having a headache steal the better part of your day with pain, frustration, and resulting unproductivity. Many of the most common primary headaches (a headache that isn’t the symptom of an underlying disease) can be caused by problems with overactivity of pain-sensitive structures in your head. When you feel a stress headache coming, know it’s your body’s way of telling you to slow your roll, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes.
3. Lethargy The brain contains one of the body’s most dense networks of oxygen-carrying blood vessels, which make it super susceptible to any hindrances in blood flow (ahem, stress). The less oxygen to the brain, the more fatigue you’ll feel, and the less you’ll want to check things off your to-do list. If you feel fatigued, bored, and uninterested in anything other than the couch, your body is yelling at you to give it oxygen. So, sit up, plant your feet on the floor, and focus on your breath. Increasing oxygen to your brain can help restore your energy.
4. Creative Block Whether it’s working on your great American novel, DIYing a new gallery wall, or even helping your kid with their art project, the creative juices aren’t always flowing. Maybe it’s because you’ve got a lot on your mind, leaving little room for creativity, or you just can’t seem to find a way into the project, but either way, your body might be telling you it’s a good time for a meditation break to help clear the mind-clutter and reset.
5. Anxiety Anxiety doesn’t feel just one way, so it can be hard to pinpoint. Irritability, feeling “on edge”, difficulty concentrating, and sleep problems are just some of the side effects of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but you don’t need to have anxiety to feel anxious. When you do feel anxious, it’s your body’s way of sending a distress signal to calm down. Meditation is an accessible, natural way to easily relieve worry and stress anytime, anywhere.
6. Memory loss Having trouble staying on task, or even remembering the details, is often associated with “getting old”, but it could be your body telling you that it’s actually overloaded. Practicing meditation on a regular basis can help memory processing by actually increasing your brain’s grey matter density, which includes regions involved in muscle control, and sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision-making, and self-control.
7. Negativity When a bad mood cloud decides to park itself over your head, it can be tough to see the sunshine. Negative feelings and pessimism can ruin your day—and even your plans. If you’re feeling like the world’s biggest Debbie Downer, your body could be trying to give you a self-imposed time out to readjust your attitude. Take a few minutes to remove yourself from the situation and reconnect to your breath. Ten minutes later, your outlook could be a whole lot sunnier.