Exercise: How Much Do I Let My Body Guide Me?

man sitting in nature

Do you tend to feel and pay attention to the messages of your body? If you’ve been working through TWP’s Companion Guide, you’ve heard us use this phrase before: Listen to your body. But what does listening to the body really look like in practice? Read through the questions in the following topic areas, and make notes in your journal as you go.


Do I take any substances to help me sleep, or do I take any substances that make me sleepy or sedated when I don’t want to be? Do I often find that I am “fighting against” sleepiness or sedation? Is it reasonably easy for me to gradually fall asleep most nights? Is it difficult for me to avoid slipping into lifestyle patterns that I know negatively affect my ability to sleep? If I’m not sleeping well, have I developed any strategies for helping me start to sleep better again?

Do I generally feel that I live in ways that are harmonious and aligned with my body’s need for sleep?


Exercise and activity

Do I feel I’m getting good amounts of exercise and outdoor physical activity in my life? Do I ever notice my body seemingly “demanding” exercise or physical activity, and if I do notice it, what do I do with that feeling? Do I feel any differently mentally, emotionally, or cognitively when I’m getting regular activity versus not getting much or any? What kinds of movement and exercise, if any, tend to feel especially good to me? How much time do I typically spend sitting still, looking at a screen, or doing something physically repetitive, and have I noticed any consequences from that? 

Do I tend to notice and respond to the needs of my body for physical activity and exercise?

exercise bike

Food and nutrition

Do I tend to eat when I’m hungry, or at fixed times even if I’m not hungry? How often do I keep eating even when I’m not hungry, or when I know that the particular food is not actually meeting my nutritional needs? What drives my eating? Do I seek pleasure, comfort, fuel, energy, nutrients, or something else… or do I just eat because I feel I have to? Do I sometimes notice different mental, emotional or physical impacts from the different foods I consume? Do I pay much attention to the nutritional quality of the food that I eat? Have I ever made any efforts to learn about nutrition and food preparation?

Overall, do I tend to only follow prescribed or routine eating patterns, or do I tend to notice how my body is feeling and try to meet its needs?


“Being in” my body

Do I regularly notice particular sensations in some or all of my body that make being in it especially uncomfortable or difficult? If so, what do I do in response to these sensations? If I’ve done a slow relaxation exercise that involved lying down and becoming gradually more aware of each and every part of my body, did the experience relax me, or did I find it uncomfortable? If I’ve never tried a guided body relaxation, does the idea of taking time to try one intrigue me or bother me?

(Here's a link to several free audio sessions of guided body relaxations.)

Do I feel that I am generally comfortable simply “being in” my body, or does my body generally feel uncomfortable to me?


The psychiatric drugs I take

How do the psychiatric medications I take affect my body? For example, does it feel weaker or stronger? Sped up or slowed down? Numbed and shut down in minor or significant ways? When I look back on all the questions I’ve explored in this exercise so far, do I see linkages between the medications I take and any of these aspects of my daily physical well-being—especially physical effects that I dislike? Am I today less or more likely to regularly notice or be concerned about negative physical effects I might be experiencing than when I first started taking the drugs?

With respect to psychiatric drugs, would I say that I tend to listen to my body and let my body help guide my decisions about taking them or not?