“My learned behavior has been to not pay attention to my body—just get the job done. Forcing myself to stop and assess myself was challenging. I hated doing it but forced myself. I was surprised to see from a simple drawing the impact of energy level highs and lows tied to hunger, thirst, and mood and how it influenced my productivity. I probably learned the most from this”
What is your body telling you?
The health and wellbeing of our bodies and minds are vital to a happy and productive life. But too often, we are so focused on our doings that we fail to pay attention to how our body or mind feels, and to the fact that our psychological and physical states are intimately connected.
Paying attention to yourself is not a new idea. For thousands of years, philosophers in all civilizations have encouraged people to know themselves. The practice of meditation has been around for about 3,000 years. And in today’s world, the teaching of mindfulness is a multi-billion dollar business.
The Mapping Ourselves tools complement such practices, with new, visual tools to pay attention to our lives.With the Body Connection tool, become more attuned to how your body and mind feels throughout the day.
Body Connection is designed around six different physical and emotional states, with each state having a distinct visual style. It shows you a week at a time. This allows you to see patterns — how things vary over time, and how different states interact with each other. When are you more tired? Are there consistent patterns in your mornings or afternoons? How do hunger or thirst impact your mood?
There are, of course, many other aspects of your physical and emotional wellbeing that you might want to pay attention to. The Body Connection instructions will get you started, and then you can use more symbols and colors to easily add other information.
“I really enjoyed it. I started a new diet and coincidentally my supervisor at work left; I was grieving his departure but wasn’t even aware I was such an emotional eater… I didn’t realize how automatic it was to reach for something through food instead of just sitting with the feeling.”
“Almost every time I paused to ask, How do I feel physically, that’s when I realized I feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t aware of it unless I paused to think about it.”
“I really like this tool. I think it is worthwhile to track these physical sensations–I overlook hunger and thirst more often than I would think. I really love the idea of tracking mood and energy because it is very helpful for self awareness at home or at work–as an engineer I have not used this as a metric before.”
Body Connection instructions, as well as Data Collection and Data Drawing templates, can be found on pages 34–39 of the Mapping Ourselves workbook.
After completing your data drawing, answer the following questions to reflect on your data collection and drawing experience.
- In the creation and evaluation of this drawing, what stood out for you?
- Do you see correlations between how you feel and your performance?
- Are there patterns in the data that correspond to other patterns in your life?
Here are some more suggestions for deeper reflection and exploration:
- To what extent did just doing this activity make you more aware of your body (even when you weren’t actively recording data)?
- Did you feel the actual act of noticing made your body feel a different way than normal?
- Is there a correlation between the time of day and your level of energy or mood?
- Did this activity cause you to rethink your relationship with food or drink?
- Based on what you observed about your body, how might you take better care of your physical or mental health in the future?