Society constantly spreads the message your body it not good enough. It can be really easy to fall down the rabbit hole of negative body image thoughts. "My thighs are too big. My stomach is too round. I wish I could get rid of this double chin. I look nothing like these social media influencers or the actors in my favorite movies. I wish I did. I wish I could change my body."
These body image thoughts and beliefs can negatively affect the way you see your value as an individual. They can also negatively impact other aspects of your life, including your relationship with food. For these reasons, it is important for your overall well-being to continue to work on shifting your body image to a more positive one.
Self-care can be a great strategy to help you achieve this goal. By completing self-care daily, you are telling your body that it is valuable and deserves to be respected. Continue reading to learn more about five ways self-care can help to improve your body image.
1. Donate any clothes that no longer fit. Replace them with clothes that make you feel confident or good in your current body.
Do you have that pile of "goal clothes" in your closet that you are saving for when you achieve your "dream body"? Maybe you are using the clothes as motivation to lose weight or become more toned. Let's face it- there is nothing that kills your body image faster than trying to squeeze your body into clothes that do not fit. Those clothes are acting as a constant reminder your body is "not good enough" now.
Your body is good enough now. It does not need to be changed in order to earn the respect it deserves. It is so, so, SO much harder to respect your body when you only see it as something that needs to be altered. Instead, get rid of those clothes. Donate them to a local shelter or organization. Replace them with clothes that fit your body NOW. Find clothes that are comfortable, match your personal style, and make you feel confident. When you wear clothes that make you feel good, it is much easier to see your body in a positive light.
2. Create a list of self-care activities that make you feel happy, relaxed, or recharged. Set aside time to complete one of these activities daily.
Life can get incredibly busy (an understatement...I know). You are trying to balance long hours at work, taking your kids to and from after school activities (well, in non-COVID times), and managing the responsibilities of your home. You are mentally and physically exhausted. Not to mention, you find it so easy to focus on the negative thoughts and beliefs about your body.
That go-go-go mentality will eventually lead you to some serious burnout sooner rather than later (if you are not there already). It can be incredibly challenging to create a better relationship with your body when you do not set aside time for self-care. It is important to prioritize time for doing something that you enjoy or that allows you to relax. This may look like reading a good book, going for a walking, or taking a nap.
Spend time tonight creating a list of self-care activities that allow you to feel happy, relaxed, or recharged. Starting tomorrow, take 30 minutes daily to do one of these activities. You might be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to focus on the positive aspects of your body when you mentally feel happier.
3. Write down a list of characteristics and aspects you like about both yourself and your body. Read them every morning to help you create more positive thoughts.
When you look in the mirror, you seem to only focus on the curves of your round stomach, the thickness of your thighs, or those "bingo wings" hanging from your arms. Your reflection continues to fuel your desire, no, your "need" to change your body. You have tried to focus on positive attributes, but you cannot seem to find any.
One way to change this mindset is to purposely create positive affirmations, or statements, meant to transform your mindset and thoughts. Spend 15 minutes writing a list of characteristics or aspects you like about both yourself and your body. The key is to include at least a few positive statements about your actual body. Place this list by your bed. Read it every morning before you start your day. Over time, you might find yourself experiencing more and more positive thoughts about your body.
4. Avoid going longer than 5-6 hours without eating a meal. Your body deserves consistent energy and nutrition no matter its size and shape.
Do you find yourself skipping lunch because you are busy at work? Maybe you frequently push off meals, because either you do not believe you have earned that meal or you need to wait so many hours before eating again. These thoughts make it difficult to notice your hunger signals before that ravenous, "I am going to eat a horse," thought creeps in.
Believe it or not, nourishing your body through food is a form of self-care. Your body functions at its best when it is able to maintain consistent blood sugar levels throughout the day. When your blood sugar level drops too low, it will use the sugar stored in your liver to compensate. On average, it takes approximately six hours for your body to use up all of the sugar in your liver. This can result in lightheadedness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, or changes in your mood (hangry anyone?).
You can avoid this from happening by replenishing those energy stores through food. Avoid going longer than 5-6 hours between meals to make sure your body is getting the energy it needs and deserves. You also might find you function at your best eating a meal or snack every 3-4 hours.
5. Allow yourself to eat foods you enjoy in addition to foods you may label as "healthy" or "good for me".
Do you find yourself saying "no" to your favorite foods, because they are not "good" for you? This habit might be contributing to your poor body image. When we label foods as "good" or "bad", we place this moralistic value on ourselves when we eat them. "I was so bad today. I ate an entire row of cookies. I clearly have no self-control."
Thoughts like these may often lead to you deciding whether or not you "deserve" to eat something based on how "good" you were that day. Likewise, you may decide you do not "deserve" to eat that cookie because your body is "bad". Not everything that enters your mouth needs to be a "superfood". You are allowed to eat foods that you enjoy in addition to those that provide you nutrients and energy. After all, food is delicious.