About Time: You Heard About the Latest Wellbeing TrendBy Alicia Grimshaw
There are new buzzwords flying around in the health and wellbeing community all the time – mindfulness, breathwork and self-care. ‘Body Literacy’ is the newest one, but what exactly does it mean?
If it’s your first time hearing the term, don’t worry, you’re not alone. A recent study, commissioned by Love Fresh Cherries to empower women to take charge of their health, found that almost two-thirds of women surveyed didn’t know what body literacy was. To make sure you (and they) are in the know, it’s basically a fancy way of saying knowing your body; how it feels, how it looks and how you respond to those things.
Body literacy is broken down into three key areas: observing, learning and understanding. For women, it applies to everything from menstrual cycles and periods to pregnancy and nutrition. In a poll of 2,000 UK-based women aged 18 – 50, 85% said they wanted to understand their bodies better.
Dr Frankie Phillips, an Independent Registered Dietitian and member of the British Dietetic Association, said: “There needs to be more readily available, regulated, information to help women better understand their own bodies, across fundamental areas from menstruation to nutrition. I am a firm advocate that good nutrition is a cornerstone of wellbeing for women of all ages, with what and how we eat having wide-ranging effects on the body, as well as a massive impact on feeling mentally and physically healthy, both now and in the long-term.”
Nutrition aside, how can you become more body literate? There are various ways to track bodily changes and tune into how you’re and why you’re feeling a certain way. Here we’ve put together five quick tips:
1. Differentiate between what your body wants and what it needs. Just because you are craving some fast food, doesn’t mean it’ll make you feel better – even if you’ve got a hangover. Instead, research what these cravings mean, eat something healthy and you’ll likely feel better.
2. Track your menstrual cycles. Two-thirds of women want better education on menstrual cycles but the best place to start is with yourself. Apps like Flo and Clue help you understand your own cycle better, which will, in turn, empower you to learn more.
3. Practice mindfulness. Slowing the mind down and living more presently is shown to have a huge positive impact on the body. Meditation is proven to reduce things like anxiety as well as other physical health conditions.
4. Focus on the breath. Breathing exercises are a great way to help with relaxing, and there’s a link between the breath and the nervous system. Practising breathing techniques can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
5. Use exercise and health-tracking apps. If you’re in a slump and you don’t know why, checking your Fitbit might remind you that you haven’t exercised today. Alternatively, you may feel like you overdone it on your last run, so knowing how far you went will teach you to take a step back. Even the NHS has its own app now, so you can see what medication you’re taking, check your blood test results and take charge of your body.