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10 ways to feel body positive when the sun shines

After what feels like the longest, darkest lockdown winter, the sun is gloriously shining in the UK, offering a glimpse of carefree days ahead. Although you may have been basking joyfully in these first few rays, they may have triggered body angst. The pressure to hone the elusive ‘bikini body’ may be taunting you through social media and well-meaning friends. The thought of displaying bare limbs and wearing skimpier clothes might be tempting you down the well-trodden path of body bashing and self-isolation, as you vow to crash diet your way into the summer months.

Before you do this, stop, pause, and consider a different approach.

1. Thoughts

Your body image is predominantly about your thoughts and feelings about your body, with far less to do with how it looks. Think about the last time you had a ‘fat day’. Had your body changed noticeably from the day before? Likely not, but it probably felt this way. So remind yourself that thoughts are not facts and work to cultivate kinder self-talk.

2. Confidence is within  

Smile and stand tall, knowing that confidence is a feeling from within, rather than a dress size. As human beings, we find others attractive who exude a warmth, openness, and a positive vibe. Dig deep and access your inner warrior, knowing that inner confidence can be yours with a shift in posture and constructive thoughts.

3. Body bashing

Banish any body bashing behaviours such as obsessive weighing or excessive scrutinising of ‘worst’ body parts in the mirror. Collecting evidence of how dissatisfied you feel about your body, is only going to create negative talk and feelings of inadequacy. 

4. Old photos   

Do not compare yourself to a previous photo of yourself, when you’re convinced that you look impeccably toned and that life was happier. The human brain tends to idealise these old moments and it stirs up sentimental body nostalgia that removes you from the present moment and brings on self-loathing and self-dissatisfaction.

5. Clothes  

Wear clothes that fit comfortably and don’t rub, chafe or dig in. Feeling this discomfort is the ultimate negative body image trigger.

6. Nature

Walk in nature regularly and wonder at the beauty of spring. Gentle exercise is the ultimate mood enhancer and gets you out of your head and focusing on the bigger life picture.

7. This moment

Consider how you improve your body image today. Colour, pretty jewellery, favourite shoes or make-up can all lift mood and improve feelings about appearance in a heartbeat. Don’t save wearing these for ‘best’ – enjoy them now and watch your mood soar.

8. Reconnect

As the social world emerges again, slowly re-connect with friends, hobbies and adventures. Getting out of the four walls of your home distracts from poor body image and renders you less vulnerable to using food as coping.

9. Social media

Spring-clean your social media and unfollow anyone who is triggering down the body bashing path. Spend more time engaging with other creative aspects that inspire interest and playfulness in you. Getting immersed in a chosen hobby or exciting project can distract from body preoccupation and inspire feelings of self-worth.

10. Self-compassion

Practise self-compassion. You are not alone in your body image struggles and take comfort in knowing this. Many others are feeling anxious too. Show yourself loving-kindness, as you would a dear friend or a beloved pet and do this through your thoughts, words and actions. Self-compassion is the antidote to that critical voice and motivates wand encourages you towards better self-care and body acceptance, whereas self-chastisement brings on feelings of overwhelm and hopelessness.

If you are struggling with poor body image or disordered eating, you might wish to think about further support through counselling.

This article was written by Harriet Frew.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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