Loving your own body, as obvious as the notion may seem, is often easier said than done.
Did you know that 70% of women between the ages of 18-30 dislike their bodies? And men aren’t much better off; 45% say they are dissatisfied with their bodies too. If you find yourself feeling low about your own body, you’re not alone.
Changing the way we think requires daily effort, just the same as keeping your teeth healthy requires daily brushing. It’s not always a thrill ride. Some of the work might be boring or even feel silly sometimes, and that’s OK.
There are countless ways you can work on body positivity, and you’ll have to find out what works for you. Just to get you started on your self-love journey, we have pulled together 10 of our favorite ways to remind ourselves that bodies are gifts, not curses.
1. Positive affirmations
One of the most basic and effective ways we can practice self-love is to speak it aloud and speak it often, especially when it feels hard to be grateful for our bodies. Give yourself daily, verbal encouragements and reminders. This may mean saying a kind thing to yourself in the mirror in the morning, or placing encouraging sticky notes on your bedside table, or even putting daily encouragements into your phone or computer. Look for self-love and body-positive mantras that speak to you. For starters, check out this list here from Greatest.
And remember, we said some of this work may feel silly, but just because it may feel silly, doesn’t mean it’s not working. Keep at it. A little silliness won’t hurt you.
2. Think healthier, not skinnier
When you’re making meals, or when you’re hitting the gym, don’t frame your fitness goals according to a number you’d like to see on the scale. Exercise and a healthy diet shouldn’t be punishment; this is one way we show respect and appreciation for our bodies. So, instead of thinking about how much your body weighs, or how it’s shaped, think about all the amazing things it can do, all the places it can take you, how it feels, and the experience it brings you. Then honor it with nourishing meals and exercises that you actually ENJOY.
3. Compliment others freely
Often times we project our own insecurities onto other people. We judge them harshly because we judge ourselves too harshly. But when we open ourselves up to be kind to others, it also opens us up to be kinder to ourselves. Give someone a compliment you wished you’d gotten when you needed it most. Be someone else’s silver lining today, and tell them they’re rocking their look.
4. Surround yourself with positivity
Negative messages about body image are all around us, and they have a way of weaseling themselves into our thoughts and antagonizing our insecurities. This might be photoshopped images of models on billboards, or body negative people in your life, and even body negative posts on social media. According to one study, participants who spent more time on social media were more likely to develop a negative body image, and more likely to develop eating disorders. So, try to cut out the negativity that you can. Curate your social media feeds—hide those fad diet posters. Look for positive people, people who practice self-love, and people who will encourage you to be who you are.
5. Focus on the things you like about yourself
Every time a negative thought about your body pops into your mind, counter it with something positive. Try making lists of the things you like about your body. And not just how it looks, but the things it allows you to do. List it all out. We’re naturally inclined to look for our dissatisfactions and overlook the good things. To break out of that way of thinking, it will take daily repetition. Just keep at it.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others
People come in all shapes and sizes. One person is beautiful in one way, and the next person in some other way. And isn’t that how it should be? Imagine how boring it would be if there were only one way to be, and to feel, beautiful. Comparing yourself to others can leave you feeling like you don’t look the way you should, but you’re not supposed to look like someone else; you’re supposed to look like you.
7. Cut out negative self-talk
Treat your body with the same kindness you’d treat a friend. And if whatever you’re about to say about your body is something you’d feel bad saying about a friend’s body, then don’t say it! Negative self-talk only digs us deeper into body negative patterns of thinking. You don’t deserve verbal abuse from anybody, especially from yourself.
8. Absorb body positive messages
Because, as we said, the world is full of negative messages about bodies, balance that negative noise out with some good, positive perspectives. There is a lot of great literature out there about body image, and many readers have found them to be a huge help in their journeys. Here’s a reading list from Psychology Today, and here’s a list of body positive bloggers from Bustle, just to get you started. And in case you feel more like listening than reading, here’s a bonus list of songs with body positive messages from Billboard.
9. Do something nice for your body
When’s the last time you gave your body a gift just to say, hey, thanks for sticking with me? Carve out some time to go lay in the grass, or take a bubble bath, or a walk up the hill to a pretty view. A good nap can be a gift too.
10. Focus on your whole person
Don’t forget: you are so much more than how you look! A key piece of having a healthy body image is to stop fixating on your body. Try to spend more time thinking about things other than physical appearance. Go throw yourself into your passions. Pick up a new hobby. Catch a movie with a friend. Make something. Your body isn’t just a decoration for looking at; it’s for doing. So, get out there and get doing.