How to Appreciate Your Body (and Yourself) in 5 Steps
Let's face it, we all have parts of our bodies we wish we could change or improve. Some of us want to lose weight and become more toned while others wish they could gain weight and increase their muscle mass. Some want to be taller while others wish they were shorter. Maybe it's a smaller waist or a bigger chest. While diet and exercise might help some of these desires, the shape and size of many parts of our bodies are due to genetics and are beyond our control. It is important to remember your beauty is more than the numbers on the scale or the size written on the tag of your jeans. We should always aim to be healthy in terms of our food choices and physical activity, but we also need to appreciate the bodies we were born with. Although this is easier said than done, try starting with these five steps.
Appreciate what your body DOES, not how it looks
Did you know your body produces 25 million cells every second? Or that in an average lifespan, your heart will beat more than 3 billion times? Your body does so many amazing things for you! It lets you run, jump, climb the stairs, play soccer, swim, and laugh. It allows you to breathe, heals your cuts, fights off diseases, and digests your food. Your body has been with you since birth and has carried you through a lot of things. It is so much more than the outer shell that you are judging it by. So next time you look in the mirror, rather than focusing on every little thing you don’t like about your body, focus on all the great things your body does for you every single day.
Wear clothes that make you feel good
Have you ever put on an outfit from your closet only to take it off and hang it back up? Was it too tight or too loose? Did the sleeves stop at a spot that made your arms look big or did the pants feel uncomfortable and cause a muffin top? Are there articles of clothing that just hang in your closet waiting for you to lose a few pounds? Get rid of them!
Start today by removing anything that doesn’t make you feel great. Maybe the material feels scratchy, it fits too tight in the thighs, or the style isn’t flattering. If you don’t like the way it feels on you and the way it makes you feel, give it away! We need to remember not every clothing trend needs to be worn by every person. If crop tops aren’t your thing, then don’t wear them. If you love long, comfy sweaters with leggings, then rock them! There are tons of different fashion trends. Find what you are comfortable in and stick with those items because according to Dr. Carolyn Mair, a behavioral psychologist and author of The Psychology of Fashion, “When you wear clothes that make you feel confident, happy and empowered, they can act as armour, shielding you from negative feelings and experiences.”
Beware of social media
Don’t lose yourself in everyone else’s make-believe world! You know that what you are seeing on social media is only a glimmer of reality. The images are edited, airbrushed, filtered, and altered. Most people take dozens of pictures to find a single shot to actually post. Although we know we are only seeing other people’s highlight reels, 60% of people using social media have reported it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way including higher levels of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Remember, nobody is the “perfect” image they put on social media.
While getting rid of social media may not feel reasonable, you can establish some boundaries. Set up screen time limits for certain apps. Turn on your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” function when you are trying to focus on other people or activities to prevent being bombarded by every snap or alert that comes through. Or better yet, turn your social media notifications off completely so you are in control of when you see the posts. Spend some time truly evaluating the social media you use. Do you find it leads to more negative feelings than positive ones? If so, it may be time to close that account or delete that app.
Surrounding yourself with kind people, including yourself
Do the people you spend time with see greatness in you? Do they encourage and empower you to be your best or do they tear you down? Your friends should provide social and emotional support and make you feel happier. They should be there when you need them and encourage you to be yourself. Great friends are loyal, trustworthy, and authentic. If these traits don’t sound like your friends, it may be time to reevaluate your relationships.
Think of five people you truly admire. Are they all physically beautiful? Not likely. Chances are the qualities of the people you admire and respect the most are connected to WHO they are, not HOW they look. The opposite is also true. Think of someone who has physical beauty but is self-absorbed or unkind. Do you want to spend time with that person? In the end, our appearance is just one aspect of who we are and definitely not the part people look for in meaningful relationships.
It is equally important to be kind to yourself! Take time every day to disconnect from the things that create stress and anxiety in your life and do the things you love to do. Practice meditation, read a book, or take a nap. Get outside and go for a bike ride or a walk. Listen to your favorite music or a great podcast. Whatever brings you peace and joy, make sure you are doing those things daily!
What do you like about yourself that is NOT connected to your appearance? Are you funny, generous, and forgiving? Are you a great friend or a good listener? Maybe you are creative, musically gifted, athletic, funny, or smart. Focus on the qualities that make you special and unique.
Grab a piece of paper or open the “Notes” app on your phone. Write down 10 “I am…” statements to remind yourself how awesome you are. There are a few below to get you started. Once you have your list, please add a few to the comments section of this blog to assist someone that may need some help seeing their own greatness.
I am important.
I am funny.
I am an amazing friend.
I am more than my body.
I am smart.
Please remember, the world needs you exactly as you are. As Nayyirah Waheed stated, “You don’t have to learn to love yourself. You just need to remember there was nothing wrong with you in the first place.” So be YOU