Do you want to love your body? Stop trying to squeeze and mold your body into some ideal that’s based on current trends or judgmental edicts. Positive body image is an inside job. Try these 5 tips to help you nurture a better body image!
Body Image Tip #1: Show Some Body Love
Appreciate your body for what it does, how it feels, and all the pleasures you receive. Focus on how it moves, hugs, accomplishes, and all the other ways it functions for you. Notice what you like about your body. Having an attitude of gratitude focuses your mind on evaluating what’s right, rather than what’s wrong. And there’s always plenty of what’s right to go around.
Vow to be kind to your body by reframing shame talk, accepting it’s natural shape and size, and then giving it proper care, exercise, and nutrition. Next time you look in the mirror and find something wrong, find what’s acceptable or loveable, too!
Body Image Tip #2: Celebrate Body Diversity
Expose yourself to different environments and media that celebrate a diversity of body shapes and sizes. Without judgment, practice simply observing the array of shapes and sizes and notice health at every size. Imagine the daily activities and emotional experiences each person in each body might have. From different skin color, to weight distribution, to fitness level, each body expresses its uniqueness in myriad ways. There’s no right or wrong.
Body Image Tip #3: Move and Recuperate with Integrity
Each body needs both movement and recuperation. Move in ways that feel good to your body and are sustainable over time. Back off from movement that feels like punishment, but do challenge yourself to see what’s possible in the version of your body that exists today. Move in ways that allow you to feel coordinated, graceful, athletic, and strong—whatever qualities affirm what you value about yourself! When our lymph and blood are flowing and our skin is detoxing, we feel better in and about our bodies.
Give your body adequate rest and down time to repair, heal, and regenerate. If movement starts to feel compulsory, back off. Wait until it comes from desire. If you don’t know the difference, explore. You’ll love your body more when you’re in a loving relationship with it.
Body Image Tip #4: Feel your Emotions
When we stuff our emotions down, or have experiences that overwhelm our capacity to stay integrated with our emotions, they get trapped in our bodies. In fact, the root of the word emotion is “e,” or outward and “motion,” or movement. So emotion literally means “outward movement.” Our emotions are designed to move out of us. They start first as sensations in our bodies. Then they constellate in certain areas of the body to form an emotional experience that tells our cognitive minds about our needs.
For many who struggle with poor body image, the body is storing unresolved emotions. The body becomes a physical representation of painful emotional experiences. In fact, when we have traumatic experiences stored in our bodies, we feel heavier, and we can perceive our bodies as larger or smaller than they actually are. By expressing our emotions, we develop a healthier relationship to our bodies and the ways we perceive them. We start to feel that our inner experience is more tolerable, and that can often translate into better evaluations of body image.
Body Image Tip #5: Wear Clothing That Allows Breath and Movement
Wear clothing that gives you room to breathe and move, rather than trying to fit into a particular size. When our clothing is too tight, it can cut off our breath, increasing anxiety. Tight clothing can also limit the ways we need to move, which inhibits our gestures, functions, and expressions. All of these experiences can have us evaluating our bodies negatively.
Next time you buy clothes, try them on facing away from the mirror first. If they don’t feel good, it doesn’t matter how they look because they’ll contribute to an overall sense of poor body image. Know who you are as a mover, what you do for your profession, and how you’ll spend your day when thinking about what to wear. Buy clothing that honors who you are.
Body image does not have to be a battle.
You don’t have to change your body in order to love it. We can learn to love our bodies as they are by making some simple shifts in body love, diversity appreciation, movement that is honoring of one’s body, emotional expression, and clothing. As we do this our bodies may, in turn, become more balanced, simply by being supported in their truest expressions.
The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
© Institute For The Psychology of Eating, All Rights Reserved, 2014
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