Hungry? Thirsty? Tired? In pain? No clue? Do an interoception review!

I never knew I didn’t drink enough water until a former girlfriend kept pointing it out to me. 

I never knew that I suffered with constant low-level back pain until I pressed my back against the floor and could FEEL IT. For the first time!

I don’t know I’m hungry until I start wobbling and feeling foggy from a drop in blood sugar.

I’ll go to work and then study for an hour or two after…I only realise I might be tired when my cheeks begin to flush and I begin to complain of feeling unwell.

Unless I take my heart rate, I often have no clue that my body is in a state of anxious panic.

In short, I often have NO IDEA what’s happening inside my body.

I often have NO IDEA what my basic needs are.

Readers, I have a problem with interoception.

A medical diagram of a nervous system with all the organs round the side and their labels

Image taken from Wikipedia entry for interoception

Interoception is your internal sense of your body. It helps you be aware of yourself and know what you need to keep your body safe and well.

Poor interoception can lead to health problems like dehydration or anxiety attacks…and you might fail to seek help for an injury because you don’t realise how badly you’re hurt.

Interoception issues are really common in autistic people. And because we don’t know how we feel, this can be a contributing factor in meltdowns.

(Think of a baby who is going crackers because it’s hungry, thirsty and tired – you’d meltdown, too!)

So what can you do? How can you check in with yourself? You need to do a quick interoception review.

If you feel a bit weird but don’t know why, ask yourself:

  1. When did I last eat? Could I be hungry?
  2. When did I last have a drink of water or juice? Could I be thirsty?
  3. When did I last sleep or sit down to rest? Could I need a break?
  4. What temperature is it inside/outside? Could I be hot or cold?
  5. How fast is my heart beating? Am I sweating? Could I be anxious or afraid right now?

For some people, an answer will be obvious.

For others, you might need to try adjusting several things until you feel “normal” again.

Some people find it helpful to do a quick “body scan” meditation where they think about parts of their body and the sensations they are feeling. Not everyone likes this but many people do.

It’s about what works for you. Here’s a link to a bodyscan if you want to try one.

Knowing yourself – at the level of your body – is so important for living well. Take some time today to check in with yourself. 

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All best wishes,