Our self image is informed by so many things in this digital age – celebrities, parents, friends, the media … it’s easy to get lost and forget to love your body amidst all the messages that tell us to be thinner, richer, faster, better. Here are a few ways that I show my body love and appreciation, which have in turn helped me to change how I feel about myself.
1. Stop comparing yourself to others
Whether it’s comparing yourself to someone you know or to someone you follow on social media, just stop it! It seems to be an ingrained part of our culture, so I know it’s not easy to switch off, but do at least try to be aware of it and replace those thoughts as you go. Instead of comparing yourself to someone else (whether it be weight, success, hair, skin, body or lifestyle), focus on the great things in your life. Embrace those lush lashes, your curvy body, your curly hair, your contribution at work, the time you spend with your friends and family – they are infinitely more important in your life than what someone else is doing.
2. Celebrate your differences
I spent a long time hating my body. My fat thighs. My hair that was neither curly nor straight. The gap in my teeth. The way my laugh sounds… Gosh that was tiring! When I was learning to love myself I found that those were some of the things that made me different to others. Write down what makes you unique and celebrate those differences.
3. Listen to your body
We are taught from a young age not to listen to our bodies wants and needs (e.g being told to eat everything on our plate). It’s hard to learn to hear the inner cues our body gives us but when we do it can be pretty eye opening. Show your body love by being concious about how you treat it. There are a few things that are a part of my essential self care that have come about as part of listening to my body over the last few years – I’ll share a couple of them here but be aware that yours might be different
- I have a lot of food allergies and intolerances, and quite a few of them were discovered when I started listening to my body and paying attention to what it was telling me when I ate certain things. After speaking with my nutritionist, I’ve stopped eating those things and have found so many improvements in everything from my health to my daily life.
- I can’t be everything to everyone – saying no is important. I’m naturally a yes person, I love exciting new projects and helping my friends succeed … but sometimes I find myself overloading my plate. Learning to say no before I start to feel overwhelmed was really hard but it’s so important for my mental and physical health.
- Exercise is a critical part of my self care, not just for my physical health and to help gain strength back after my surgery, but for my mental health. It took me a long time to figure out what kind of exercise I enjoyed and to realise that it’s okay not to love all kinds of exercise. I don’t work out at the gym every day (usually only 2-3 times a week), some days I do more gentle kinds of exercise like going for a walk or a swim, or doing yoga.
- If I don’t get enough sleep, I won’t be able to work at my best and I will end up exhausted. In the last few months I’ve completely changed my sleep habits to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, and my body is absolutely loving it.
- I need routine and plans and structure. Going to bed and getting up at set times is just the beginning, marking out time in my day to work, to relax, to eat, that kind of structure is important for me. I make to do lists and enjoy planning things out and ticking them off.
4. Treat yourself
I often find myself getting caught up in work and as a result can end up working all kinds of hours. It’s important to me to stop and take time to do something nice for myself – reading a book, putting on a face mask, taking a bath, that kind of thing. Other treats like facials, massages and manicures are great too, but they cost a lot of money and I’m a writer so they’re not in my budget all that often. I like to treat myself at home instead, with lovely scented Lush baths and my fave Dermalogica face masks – that means I can give myself a bit of TLC more often, and save up for other beauty treatments for really special occasions.
5. Positive Self Talk
Sometimes, we aren’t very nice to ourselves. We say things about ourselves and our bodies that we’d never dream of saying to someone else, because they’re mean. Give yourself a break and work on switching your mindset to more positive self talk. Focus on the things you love about yourself and your achievements (I’ve got beautifully long mermaidy hair, I’m smart, I am great at taking care of my dog, I’m a good mum etc.). Sit down and make a list to remind yourself if you’re struggling with this one – I bet there are more amazing things about you that you’re not even seeing! If you find yourself thinking or saying something negative about yourself, take a moment to recognise that’s what you’re doing and follow it with some positive self talk.
How do you show your body love?
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