Tracking Your Needs

By Sarah Spitz, LMSW

How many of us take the time to check in with ourselves through out the day? We jump from obligation to obligation, filling up every last minute of our day with work, socializing, etc. Despite intentions to "to do more self-care," it seems that it is often the first thing to be sacrificed from our priorities. 

In my last blog post I wrote about Functional Action,  one of the main principles from a program called Eat Breathe Thrive, which is dedicated to supporting individuals who would like to overcome food and body image challenges. In this post I would like to explore another component of the program called “tracking of needs,” or cultivating a deeper awareness of what your body is communicating to you.

In every session of the 6 week program the facilitator leads the group through a “Tracking of Needs” meditation in which participants are invited to check in with themselves. They have a free app that includes the audio for the meditation, but it is also possible to adapt it as a quick check-in to do with yourself through out the day. You begin by placing one hand above your belly button, one hand below, and beginning to breathe deep belly breaths.

Then you check in on the following: 

  1. Sensations: What do you feel physically in your body?
    Example: tightness, pain, numbness, hollowness, butterflies, etc
  2. Needs: What are these sensations telling you about what you need in this moment?
    Example: hollowness = hunger, butterflies = anxiety, etc
  3. Reactions: What judgements arise from the sensations and needs?
    Example: "You already ate lunch, you shouldn't be hungry already!" 
  4. Actions:  What steps can you take to honor the needs that your body has communicated?
    Example: My body is telling me that I am hungry so I am going to have a snack

While there are 4 steps listed above, it is okay to begin with only part of the check-in. Placing your hands on your stomach and taking one belly breath may be enough the first time. This action may bring up various thoughts and feelings that may be uncomfortable. In these moments it is important to have self-compassion. Remember, mindfulness is an ongoing practice, and it is normal to have your mind wander or to experience resistance. If you are looking to develop a mindfulness practice and work on your relationship with food and your body, therapy can be a great place to start. 

Sarah Spitz is therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support with disordered eating or body image struggles, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.