Bodies at Work: Signs you’re ignoring your body in your business (and what to do about it)

Whether you make products, see clients, teach classes, run a farm, or do some other kind of work in your herbal business, you have a body.

I know, Captain Obvious here. But even though it seems like a silly thing to say out loud, it’s something we often forget, even for folks like you who know the importance of caring for the body (and who are trying to make a living out of helping other people do just that).

Now hold on before you hop on the shame train (I saw you, there). This is not a personal failure, you haven’t done anything wrong, you are not a bad herbalist because you forget to take your herbs or move your body.

There are a lot of reasons (that have nothing to do with you personally) that have created the conditions that actively encourage us to forget and ignore our bodies, especially while engaged in work. But despite this, there are lots of things we can do to recenter our bodies and bring our whole selves into our work.

But first of all, why should we care?

Again, Captain Obvious here to remind you of things that you might know intellectually but maybe don’t always practice. 

  • Your body is more important than your business. It will be with you much longer than any business you have or work that you do.
  • A well cared for body is a more creative and productive body. Unmet needs, burnout and exhaustion aren’t exactly conducive to you tapping into your brilliance.
  • It connects you more deeply with your intuition and your inspiration. Intuition is called a gut feeling for a reason, and inspiration literally means “to breathe in.” These are somatic processes.

And while it’s important for everyone to pay attention to their body while working, as an herbalist it is arguably even more important. It will tell you really important things about your own health and wellbeing, which will help you be better able to help others in turn. It also trains us to be better able to attune to the plants, our clients, and our own intuition about our business.

So why don’t we do it?

Well, a lot of reasons, none of which are at root your fault.

  • The trifecta of capitalism, patriarchy and white supremacy value the mind over the body, yang over yin, production over rest or reproduction. From this:
    • We are taught that our worth is dependent on our productivity, and we are encouraged to sacrifice our body in service to it
    • We also culturally don’t trust the body — because of collective trauma from all the things mentioned in the first point, many of us have an inner voice that tells us that our bodies are dirty, wrong, and animalistic and therefore not to be trusted.
    • It is seen as weak to have needs — we put folks on a pedestal who work overtime, work through lunch, work through the pain, ignore hunger signals, etc., as though this indicated some kind of morally superior inner fortitiude. Mind over matter and mastering the body are seen as the path to success, to enlightenment, to heaven, to “the top.”

Coincidentally, even the language we have around “the top” being superior is related to a denigration of earthly things, which include the body.

Knowing where our patterns come from collectively can be really helpful, but it’s also important to notice how these patterns show up for you individually. So…

What are some common signs that you’re ignoring your body?

The “check engine” light so to speak will be different for each of us, but there are some common signs to look for throughout your day that may indicate you need to shift how you’re working.

I recently asked folks in my free Bud to Bloom Community: “What are some signs you can watch out for that might indicate you’re ignoring your body?” Here’s some of the symptoms and behavior patterns they shared. Do any of these ring true for you? What else might you add?

  • Increased feelings of anxiety or sadness
  • Irritability
  • Obsessing over unimportant details
  • Headaches /migraines
  • Putting off peeing or eating until you just do “one more thing”
  • Not noticing your hungry until you’re STARVING
  • Getting hunched over or tense
  • Sore neck or back
  • Over-scheduling yourself
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling like you’re running, literally or figuratively
  • Mindlessly getting more coffee
  • Feeling dehydrated
  • Shallow breathing
  • Increased pain and fatigue
  • Eye strain
  • Difficulty making decisions

All these things add up over time. In fact, long term dismissal of the body’s needs can and does lead to burnout (a complete lack of motivation and/or passion for your work). The body always finds ways to get your attention eventually, and when this happens it usually doesn’t show up in convenient or pleasant ways.

So how can we bring our body back into our business?

I want to suggest two important ways to recenter your body in your business: one has to do with meeting your body’s needs and the other with accessing your body’s wisdom. It’s important to do both.

We meet our body’s needs by responding to its desires, and making it a habit to check in with what those desires are. So, some things you can do here:

  • Set an alarm for every 30 minutes or so reminding you to stop what you’re doing, look away from your computer, stretch, ask your body what it needs, and then provide it, whether that’s water, food, a self massage, a quick walk outside, a bathroom break, a hum, a scream, a dance, whatever it is.
  • Incorporate movement into your workday, in whatever ways you’re able to do that. If you’re a farmer or a medicine maker, you may already have this covered, but when we have jobs or even just days that require us to be at a computer or be on calls, get creative on how to build in movement! Exercise balls are great here, as are rolling foot massagers, and my personal favorite, under desk treadmills. If that’s not feasible right now, can you take your calls while moving around the room? Do you really have to be sitting?

We can access the body’s wisdom by bringing it into the decision making process. Note: this takes practice! Beyond simply building the practice, many of us have disassociated from our own bodies over the years and it can feel weird or non-productive to tune into it — but like any muscle, this is one that can be strengthened over time.

Some practices to start doing more of this:

  • Faced with a difficult decision? Put away your pro and con lists. Bring your awareness down from your head into your heart, putting your hand on your chest if that helps. Really tune into the sensations that are present, whatever they are. Ask this part of you: “What do you really feel called to do? What would feel more aligned?”
  • Feeling scared about making a particular move in your business? Whether its fear of visibility, or failure, or success, or whatever, that fear lives in your body somewhere. See if you can locate it and really tune into the sensation of it, rather than the looping thoughts associated with it. Ask this part of you: “where did you come from? In your deepest wisdom, what is it that you really want for me?”

As entrepreneurs rooted in the earth, we need to remember that our bodies are the earth, too. Treat this part of you like your most precious instrument or tool, like your most prized garden or foraging spot. To do so will make sure that your version of success contains ALL of you, that you will have the resilience for whatever comes your way next, and that the way you work is transforming culture, moment by moment.

I’d love to know in the comments below — what are some of your check engine lights to let you know your body needs some attention? What are some practices you have to reconnect?👇🏼

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