#MHAW: 5 steps to better body image
How we feel about our bodies has a tangible impact on self-confidence and mental health. Learning how to tap into the strength of the body, cultivating a kinder relationship with it,
can not only lift our mood but connects us with a felt sense of resilience and personal power.
TRY THESE 5 STEPS TO BETTER BODY IMAGE:
Celebrate function over form. In this age of online personas and inevitable social comparison, it is easy to feel critical of our unfiltered fallible human bodies. Rather than focus on aesthetics, try shifting your attention to the incredible things your body allows you to do. What does your body facilitate in your life?
Seek perspective… a little bit of appreciation goes such a long way. When that inner critic looms large, remind yourself that there is someone who would absolutely LOVE the body you have. You don’t have to be enamoured with it, just thankful. If this feels difficult, try the mantra: “I make peace with my body” or “I appreciate what my body allows me to do daily”.
Mindfully tend to it, just as you would a young seedling. Want to feel better about your body? Fuel it with nourishing food and hydration. We literally need to ‘feed’ our mental clarity, sense of humour and mood. Make sure you are well fed and well watered and you’ll have access to a more constructive relationship with your body. Create a savouring ritual around meal times, being alive to the experience of eating your food. If not a whole meal, then a few mindful mouthfuls or sips can make a difference! Consciously connect too with the benefits of what this food brings to the quality of your life.
Move it! We’re not talking about aversive exertion here, this is about intrinsically joyful movement where you connect with the pleasure of the sensations involved. Posture has a huge impact on confidence, so it can be as simple as a few ‘chicken wing shoulder rolls’ to open the chest and elongate the spine. Place your fingertips on your shoulders forming a ‘chicken wing’ – silly, I know, but more memorable and more effective than just having your arms relaxed by your sides. As you breathe in draw big circles up and out and as you breathe out, take them back and down, lubricating the shoulder joint and opening up your body to receive a more expansive breath. Repeat this at least six times feeling the freedom and energy it creates. One of the quickest ways to shift your mood is to move so dot some yoga poses or stretches through your day and feel the appreciation this fosters for your body.
Build a self-soothing practice. When we create physical softening and drop the heaviness of our day, this helps us to develop a greater sensitivity to our needs and greater self-compassion. These rituals needn’t take long but the dividends can be profound. It can be as simple as mindfully rubbing in some hand balm during your day, savouring the scent and sensation and repeating the mantra: “I extend tenderness towards my body”. Or you can close the day with a childs pose, kneeling on the floor, bringing your hands, forearms and forehead to the floor and using the mantra “I am my own safe place”.