Love yourselves for who you are, in this very moment.
Build a positive relationship with your body. “Build a relationship with my body?” you might ask. Yes, build a relationship with your body! We spent our entire lives in our bodies. It’s important to be in touch with how our bodies are feeling and commit time and energy to feeling good. As a woman who spent a lifetime struggling with body image issues and battling to like (much less love) what I saw in the mirror, I have come up with a few things that I do to feel sexy, confident, and beautiful in my own skin.
Smile at yourself in the mirror before leaving the house in the morning. I felt ridiculous when I first started doing this, but eventually, I began to feel like I was smiling at a friend and that she was smiling back. Now, I never leave the house without sharing that smile.
Also, try smiling at strangers you pass on the street. I find it extremely rewarding to see a person receive my smile and happily smile back. I think of it as a “Happiness Pay It Forward”.
Find Something About Your Body That You Like:
Daily, look in the mirror and find something you like about your body. It took me months of doing this before I could find one thing that I liked. It was my nose; my nose was the first thing that I could look at and think, “Yeah, I like the way that looks; I wouldn’t change a thing about it.” As time passed, the list of things I found tolerable about my body grew, then the things that I liked, then the things that I loved. Now, I wouldn’t alter any of my features; I love my size and shape, but it wasn’t an easy time getting to this point. It definitely took years of mental and emotional dedication.
Don’t look in the mirror and criticize your healthy body. I find that how I see myself in the mirror is a direct reflection of how I’m doing emotionally. If I’m having a bad day, I’m less likely to look favorably upon my reflection. Picking apart what I see won’t change my physical form, nor will it improve my mood. If I’m not feeling good about what I see, I walk away.
Wake Up First:
Don’t look at your reflection within the first few minutes of waking. Let’s be honest, no one rolls out of bed looking good. So why have the first thing you see in the morning be you looking your worst? I give myself a few minutes to wake fully, splash some warm water on my face, and then maybe I’ll look in the mirror. But usually, it’s not until after I get out of the shower.
[As you can see, the mirror often plays a huge role in self-image.]
Make Good Food Choices:
Choose what you eat wisely. This doesn’t mean I don’t splurge. I absolutely give myself that freedom, but I like to be intentional with what I eat. Sometimes, the delay of gratification principle helps trick me into eating better. I know that when I eat better, I feel better. And when I feel better, I look better, which makes me feel better, and so goes the cycle.
Not to “look good” (although, that is an unavoidable effect of exercise), but to feel good. If your body isn’t healthy, it doesn’t matter what size your pants are, you won’t feel your best. Need help starting or maintaining a fitness regimen? Check out my tips for maintaining a successful exercise routine.
Few things make the days more difficult and our aesthetic more haggard than not getting enough sleep. Get to bed at a decent hour, keep television shows and movies in the living room, and make your bedroom a place for only bedroom activities. You may find yourself falling asleep easier, getting more restful sleep, and feeling brighter in the morning.
Dancing with friends or dancing by yourself are both excellent activities, but I specifically recommend dancing by yourself to some of your favorite music. Moving freely in your body helps you build an intimate relationship with your body as you give yourself permission to move in whatever way feels good in the moment. I compiled a list of my favorite songs to dance to, and when I need to get back in touch with my body, or simply need a break, I will have my own little private dance party.
Clean Out Your Closet:
Get rid of “fat/skinny pants”. They only remind you of how you used to be and what you’re currently not.
On that note, get rid of anything that you don’t feel good in.
Spend Time in Nature:
Whether you wiggle your toes in the grass in your yard, or go for a long hike at Torrey Pines, or walk through the Botanical Gardens at Balboa Park, a stroll through nature reminds us of the beautiful imperfection and gorgeous asymmetry that naturally occurs all around us.
Make a List of the People You Admire:
Who are the people in your life that you most admire? What do you admire about them? Make a list of all of the qualities that you find admirable about them and make a conscious effort to shine those qualities back to the world.
Surround Yourself With People Who Support You:
This may seem like common sense, but don’t be in a relationship with someone who criticizes your body. Be with someone who challenges you to grow (and who you equally challenge) – not necessarily through any verbal communication, but by being healthy together. Don’t be with someone who points out your “flaws”. We find our perfect match in our partners, and our significant others are a direct reflection of where we are at that point in our lives. When I didn’t like my body, I had a partner who constantly criticized my appearance (and who was actually more self-conscious about his appearance than I was about mine).
Surround Yourself With Positive People:
They say we are a combination of the five people we spend the most time with. Are you happy with what that says about you? Once you have found these positive people in your life, make an effort to spend time with them.
Use Positive Words to Describe Your Body:
Say only positive things about your body, even when joking, and only use words with positive connotations (with yourself and others). In fifth grade, a girl in my class made fun of my “big butt”. I held onto that statement and that moment for years (I can even remember what I was wearing). I remember that being the moment that I started worrying about my body and began to have an altered and inaccurate view of how I looked. Even when I began to like my butt, I still would refer to it as “big,” but that word has always continued to hold a negative feeling for me. Discard words like “big” and “fat” and replace them with words like “voluptuous” and “full”.
Speak in Positives and Recite Mantras or Quotes to Your Reflection:
We are all painfully guilty of an excess of negative affirmations from time to time. When stressed or triggered, I may hear myself think, “I’m so stressed.” or “I’m so bad at this.” I know that those things just add to my anxiety, and generally aren’t accurate statements. I find it to be quite healing to repeat mantras, both in my head and out loud. Sometimes I’ll write quotes on my mirror or have an image with a quote on the home screen of my cell phone. Check out this list of my favorite self-affirmations.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of god. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of god within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
Finally, remember that loving others sometimes sneaks up on you and surprises you. Loving yourself is more deliberate. Take the first step: Embrace yourself.
You’re worth the Love you have to give.