Interoception – or the art of listening to your body – has a greater impact on our everyday functioning than many of us realise.
When you are working under pressure – which, let’s face it, is most days – listening to your body might be the last thing on your mind. You may, however, want to bump it up your priority list given the latest research into interoceptive awareness – the technical term for listening to your body.
Interoception refers to our ability to perceive internal bodily sensations, such as our breathing, heart rate, hunger, pain or muscle tension. It has several dimensions. One is the tendency to be focused on internal bodily signals. Another is how accurately we perceive what’s happening in our bodies.
You might think we all have a good idea about what’s happening inside our own skins, but research shows some of us have a higher interoceptive accuracy (IA) than others.
Does this superior sense-ability confer any real-life advantages?
A higher IA is related to better decision-making, as well as better regulation of our emotions, food and weight, whereas a low IA is related to lower resilience and certain mental health conditions such as depression, according to Dr André Schulz from the Self-Regulation and Health Research Group, University of Luxembourg, who has been researching interoception for 15 years.