How Well Do You Read Yourself?

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

"If you want to stay healthy," thus goes the advice of some wise people, "Eat when hungry and rest when tired." Sounds simple, doesn't it? In fact it sounds as simple as the advice offered by some financial pundits, "Buy low, sell high."

Neither bit of advice is simple enough to make everyone healthy or rich! Let's admit some gems of advice are deceptively simple.

Let's leave it to financial pundits to sort out the financial advice. But we sure can attempt to make the health advice more "user friendly."

The problem with the advice, "Eat when hungry and rest when tired" is that a lot of us don't really know when we are hungry or tired. We may receive false signals regarding appetite or fatigue or we may totally miss the signal until it really hits us like a hammer on the head.

Yet, we came into this world equipped with a most sophisticated and accurate biofeedback system. Babies tend to read these signals accurately and in a timely fashion. Then something happens as we grow older. Somehow we learn to ignore or misread the signals our body and brain send us.

Your car has all kinds of gauges on the dashboard. Your house heat pump has a thermostat. The washing machine, dryer, oven and various other household appliances have some sort of regulatory device on them. We simply have to watch those needles in order to regulate and adapt to the changing requirements. It's so easy!

It's not that easy to regulate and adapt to the needs of our own body. There are no external gauges or alarms to prompt us. Our biofeedback system is by and large internal. We become increasingly outward looking. In the process, we learn to override signals we receive from our internal monitor.

We are described as a nation of sleep deprived people because we don't register the ever accumulating "sleep debt." We are fast becoming a nation of obese people because we are unable to register the point of satisfaction and often misinterpret signals of hunger.

There is almost an outbreak of an epidemic of lifestyle or stress-related disorders such as high blood pressure, heart disease and chronic pain because we don't know when to stop, rest and relax.

How do we happen to suspend this internal biofeedback system of ours? There is not one universal explanation for the "breakdown in the communication system."

Here is an explanation given by a mother of four children:

"After the divorce, I was left to care for four children. I was doing almost two full time outside jobs, come home and take care of four children. I could not afford to feel tired or rest. I had to go on non-stop until I totally crashed and then I was forced to rest."

Some may get so busy chasing pleasure and excitement they don't know how to stop. Some learn to override bio-signals early in childhood due to the lack of adult supervision. For example, a child who begins to like the taste of coke and progresses from one coke a day to ten cokes a day without any prompting from adults. To take another example, a child watches television all day and turns it on again at night because he or she can't go to sleep.

In regards to adults, two jobs by each individual or three jobs between a couple, in addition to the full time job of raising children, is fast becoming the norm in our society. A lot of adults have too many things to cram into the short span of the day and there is simply not enough number of hours to get everything done.

Let's modify the saying, "Don't work harder, work smarter," to "Always exert smarter."

As you develop a good exertion strategy, also develop a good relaxation strategy. Everyone should learn to relax smart. Relaxation is a skill and can be learned. . If you find it hard to relax, learn "how to."

Set aside at least 15-20 minutes a day when you just sit down, close your eyes and try to mentally and physically relax. It might be better to break down that 15-20 minutes of time into two, three or four "mini relaxation sessions," a few minutes each time spread throughout the day.

In such mini relaxation sessions, relax your body, relax your breathing and relax your mind! Do relaxed breathing. Relaxed breathing is smooth, rhythmic and consistent flow of breath as you inhale and exhale slowly.

The regular practice of setting aside time for quiet and relaxed breathing may help to restore that mind-body communication system.

Return to Pain Control
Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2005, Mind Publications 
Posted February 2005


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor