Words by Sorcha Dunne
Learning to love your body when you don’t is not an easy task and not near as simple as the body positivity movement can make it seem. However, moving towards a more positive body image is possible with conscious effort and time. Below are seven small ways you can improve your relationship with your body.
1. Learn to listen to your body
To love your body, you must first know your body. Get familiar with your body’s language, listen to what it is trying to tell you and develop compassion for it. For example, if you start to notice that your energy has been depleted for some time it could be a sign that you’re burnt out. This is your body’s way of telling you that you need to take a break from whatever is causing you stress.
2. Speak positively to yourself and about yourself
Identify the negative ways you speak to and about yourself and replace this negative self-talk with more realistic, loving and positive statements. Also, if you find yourself judging other people’s bodies, it is critical to change these thoughts too. When you criticise other people’s bodies, you are sending a message that bodies are a valid measure of a person’s value.
3. Think of your body as an instrument rather than an ornament
Think of your body as something that can be used for your benefit rather than an object that you drag around, and requires fixing along the way. Start to take note of and celebrate all the amazing things your body is doing for you. For example, on a daily basis, your heart pumps on average 2,000 gallons of blood, your kidneys filter 600 cups of blood, and you breath 60-100 times within five minutes – all without conscious effort!
5. Keep your head up
Not only does open body language like moving with your head held high make you look more confident, it also makes you feel more confident! This is because you have a biofeedback loop between the mind and the body. Your body interprets standing tall with your head up as having a healthy body image and good self-confidence. On the other hand, when you hold your body in a more slumped over position with your head looking down, you’re more likely to feel sad and depressed.
6. Remove anything that makes you feel bad about your body
Take control of what images and messages you allow into your brain by removing items from your surroundings that make you feel bad about your body. This could be the bathroom scales or clothes that no longer fit. If you are an avid user of social media, it is also important to unfollow or unsubscribe to users who negatively impact how you feel about your body.
7. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people
The people you surround yourself with can also negatively impact how you perceive your body. Negative body talk among friends has even been linked to poor mental health outcomes such as disordered eating, increased levels of body dissatisfaction as well as stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. If you have a friend or family member who commonly engages in negative body talk, let them know if it is having an impact on you.