After what feels like an eternity locked indoors over the last year and a half, this long-awaited Summer offers us a fresh start like none other, and I’m sure you’re eager to re-emerge looking and feeling your best. Here are seven ways to improve how you think and feel about your body.
1. Stop being a perfectionist
Ever find yourself fixating on the number on your scales, labelling or judging yourself, even yearning for a model’s physique? Perfectionist thinking can increase dissatisfaction with our bodies as we strive for an unrealistic ideal. It’s important not to overly scrutinise your body, compare yourself to others, or fixate on achieving a ‘perfect’ body. Instead try focusing on what you find attractive about yourself to improve self-acceptance, and letting go of the idea that everything will be better if you had a certain body shape or size.
2. Notice your anxiety triggers
We all have opinions, positive and negative, about our bodies, which can affect our self-esteem levels. There’s a link between our perception of our appearance and how we feel about ourselves. Anxiety around our body image can be triggered by a variety of factors: eating ‘forbidden’ foods, comparing ourselves to others, comments about our weight, so it’s helpful to notice what triggers your own negative thinking so that you can practice mindfulness when this happens.
A helpful way to dissolve this anxiety and build more resilience in dealing with it in future is to take a deep breath, sit with and accept your negative thoughts for what they are, allowing yourself to feel compassion towards your body, and breathe out.
3. Do a spring clean of your social media feeds
As you sit there endlessly scrolling through Instagram, ever wondered what it is doing to your own body image and self esteem? What about the dopamine rush of posting your own pictures? Research conducted by Dove showed it takes an average of 124 likes to feel ‘liked’ or accepted on Instagram, reinforcing the unhealthy power of the platform to validate ourselves externally.
Perhaps it’s time to filter your feed like you filter your pictures: be mindful of who you’re following and ask yourself how those accounts make you feel about your body. Do they reinforce any negative or unrealistic beauty standards? Does seeing their content make you feel better or worse about yourself? And why are you choosing to post an image of yourself online – are you seeking external validation?
One of the best ways to build a positive relationship with yourself is through connecting with your physical body.
4. Practice reframing
Reframing is a technique to express our thoughts differently, which consequently allows us to feel and behave differently, too. Self-help expert Wayne Dyer says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”, and reframing the perceptions you hold about your body image can help you address your hang ups and see things in a different way. Instead of “I look awful” for example, try thinking “I’m not happy with the way I look today, and that’s okay.”
5. Connect with your body
One of the best ways to build a positive relationship with yourself is through connecting with your physical body. Positive sensual experiences to achieve this might look different for each of us: yoga, floating in water (be it bath, ocean or floating tank), going for a walk, massage, sexual activity, and tai-chi are all ways to get in touch with how your body feels.
6. Practice pleasure without guilt
Try to think about food as a source of pleasure rather than purely about nutrition or calorific value. Craving an ice cream rather than a green smoothie? Can’t wait to make a booking at a restaurant you’ve been waiting to visit? Allow yourself to give in to that treat that you’ll really enjoy for no reason other than you enjoy it.
7. Commit to self-care
Invest in yourself with non-food rewards by scheduling regular moments that are gratifying. These activities could be small, like taking time out to read, wearing your favorite perfume, buying yourself flowers or getting a facial, but large in their impact on how you feel about yourself. The more you make this commitment to self-care, the more it will normalise self-acceptance and prime you for feeling good about yourself.
As a nutritional therapist I am passionate about helping people live more happily in their bodies. Click below to book a COMPLIMENTARY 30-MINUTE CALL with me to explore ways to improve your body confidence and help you feel your best.