In today’s world and the continuous rise in social media, we’re not only being bombarded by society’s perception of beauty, but also receiving messages about loving yourself how you are. The truth is that oftentimes, being told to love yourself can also seem too much of jump from where you’re at right now.
For many of us who struggle with body image – and even sometimes, for those of us that don’t, these conflicting messages can become confusing and the concept of body acceptance and what that really means can get somewhat lost within all the noise.
Body dissatisfaction, poor body image and confusion around what we’re supposed to think about ourselves can be incredibly detrimental to mental health and well-being. It can begin to creep into every aspect of our lives and impact both our physical and emotional health.
The good news is that embracing a body acceptance approach is a mindset that we can all learn to cultivate, one step at a time. Every person is worthy of feeling good about their body – inside and out, regardless of what ideals the media and society tries to impose upon us.
If you’re struggling with body acceptance, let’s look at some tips, tools and mindset shifts you can implement to change the narrative and begin to feel more freedom and joy in your body.
1) Focus on what your body enables you to do
The body is incredible thing! We often take for granted all the things it allows us to do, in favour of being preoccupied with how it looks. When you feel triggered or down about your body image, try writing down everything that you are grateful for that your body enables you to do. This will help you cultivate a new appreciation towards your body that isn’t so focused on appearance and size.
2) Challenge the concept that people in what you perceive to be the ‘ideal body’ are happier
People can be happy or unhappy at any size and often also go through their own struggles with body image. So next time you begin to compare yourself to someone else, try to keep in mind that you never know what they have gone through.
3) Compliment yourself!
This is where neural rewiring can come into play! When you are having a down moment about your body image, take a deep breath and focus on one thing that you like about yourself. It could be your eyes, your smile, and the non-physical aspects such as being a fantastic cook or a brilliant friend.
Try and make this a daily habit because the more you shift your focus on the positive and take a kind, nurturing approach towards yourself, the more you will rewire those neural pathways and naturally create an increased sense of body confidence.
4) Take a social media break
We can easily get distracted by social media so try an experiment where you spend a little less time online scrolling, and instead, focus on engaging in hobbies you enjoy, discovering new ones, spending time with people you love, reading, helping others, or simply taking time to enjoy your own company.
You will probably notice that when you’re not exposing yourself so often to triggers created by social media, or at least curating your feed to reflect topics and images that aren’t so based around physical appearance, you’ll begin to feel less preoccupied around it.
5) Move and fuel yourself in a way that makes you feel good
No, this is definitely not about engaging in diets or extreme exercise as a form of punishment! However, if you fuel your body with food and nutrients that make you feel good and give you energy (not what the latest influencer or celebrity is touting!) and move in a way that brings you joy, this will help to embrace body acceptance.
When you know that you’re nurturing your body and taking care of it from the inside out and in a way that genuinely feels good to you, this can feel incredibly empowering!
6) Find a supportive tribe!
Surround yourself with a variety of people who are uplifting, supportive and who you feel great around – exactly as you are. Try and limit time around those people who body-shame themselves or others, but who instead, embrace all the other nourishing parts of life and what it offers.
Being around others who are happy within themselves can have an incredibly positive impact on our own self-worth.
And if you feel like you don’t have a tribe that you can really connect with, use this as an opportunity to get out there, try new things, attend different events, and meet new people!
7) Opt for body neutrality
For many people, the idea of embracing loving their body can seem like too much of a jump that the brain just can’t get onboard with. If this resonates with you, try and aim towards creating a sense of body neutrality.
Neutrality helps you to accept how you feel, but without seeing it as a huge problem or something you feel you have to take drastic action on. For example, if you have a bad body image day, instead of immediately looking up the next ‘quick fix’ diet or exercise regime, simply accept that you don’t feel great today, know that that’s ok, take a deep breath, pause, give yourself compassion and turn your attention to something more productive and positive.
Body neutrality ultimately gives you the ability to see yourself clearly and objectively, which helps you to reclaim your emotional power.
This article was written by coach and writer Laura Yates. Laura’s website and blog can be found at https://www.laurayates.org/