The way we see ourselves is important because it affects how we feel, how we interact with our environment, and those around us. Having a more positive self-image can increase our physical and mental well-being. The more you practice, the better you will feel about who you are as a person and IN your body. Here are 6 ways to get started:
Practice body gratitude.
Gratitude is a skill that takes practice. In the beginning, it may feel strange and awkward, but with practice and repetition, it will become less uncomfortable. Gratitude helps us celebrate and appreciate all the amazing things our bodies can do . Unfortunately, it is very common that we take our bodies for granted by focusing on what we find negative. However, it is possible to find body appreciation even in those places we may believe to be imperfect. A way to do this is focusing on how our bodies serve and show up for us.
Surround yourself with positivity.
Next time you are scrolling through your Instagram and TikTok feed, pay attention to accounts that leave you feeling bad about yourself and your body. It can be helpful to diversify and curate your feed with more positive and uplifting accounts. Here are some body-positive accounts to follow on Instagram:
Challenge negative self-talk.
Any time you find yourself thinking negatively about your body, speak aloud something positive about your body. At first, it may feel weird saying these things to yourself, but over time it may start to shift your mindset. . If you find yourself struggling to create positive statements, try looking up some self-love and body-positive affirmations that you resonate with. Here are some examples:
- I am grateful for my body and all that it does for me.
- I love ______ about my body because it makes me special and unique.
- My appearance does not define my value.
- I am learning how to love my body.
- I love my body along every step of my journey.
- I take care of my body and my body takes care of me.
Some ways to implement these affirmations are saying them to yourself in the mirror when you wake up, placing encouraging sticky notes around your space, making them your phone background, and downloading affirmation apps (i.e. I am).
Wear clothes you feel comfortable and confident in.
Choose outfits that make you feel your best. If you aren’t feeling good in what you’re wearing, you don’t feel good, period. . This can draw negative attention to your body, when in reality: It is the job of the clothing to fit your body, not the job of your body to fit into clothing. If body image is something you struggle with often, it could be a good idea to have some “safe”, go-to options for outfits. Seeing a stylist, even for 1-2 sessions, can also help you learn how to dress for your body.
Make time for self-care.
Self-care is all about prioritizing ourselves and our needs. There are many forms, but the two that contribute most to body image are physical and mental. Some examples of physical forms of self-care are getting enough sleep, moving your body in ways you enjoy, allowing yourself to rest when needed, getting a massage, stretching to release tension, etc. Mental self-care is when you engage in thoughts and activities that nurture your mental health. Some examples may be reading a book, putting away technology, going for a walk and listening to a podcast, etc. Everyone is different, so there is no right or wrong way to practice self-care. It takes experimenting and practice to find out what works for you and what makes you feel your best. Finding time for self-care can seem difficult when our lives are scheduled minute-by-minute, but it is so important to find some time each day to do a little extra care for your physical and mental health.
Journaling is a very useful tool you can use to get to know yourself better. It helps us identify patterns and determine where our negative thoughts, feelings, and beliefs surrounding our body and selves are coming from. The goal is to gain clarity about your internal thoughts and overcome mental blocks that keep you from accepting yourself . There are many different ways to go about journaling, so feel free to try out a few to figure out which form works best for you. If you are looking for more structure, try looking up body image-specific journal prompts. My favorite is the Body Image Workbook.
Remember, if you find that negative thoughts around yourself and your body are affecting your life and the quality of your life, connect with a trusted medical professional such as a doctor, therapist or dietitian. These problems are common, nothing to be ashamed of and treatable with the appropriate care. Be well.
Co-created by Caroline Depietri, Pilates Instructor and Nutrition Student at Boston University