“Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love”
If you find yourself looking in the mirror and finding faults in what you see, you’re not alone. The obsession with achieving the ‘perfect’ body prevents us from seeing the beauty of the skin we’re in, and it can be debilitating in some cases. Self-acceptance is still something that lots of us suffer with, and that goes for me, too.
“I think for me, I realised that the problem wasn’t with my body, but what I thought of it. You can lose weight, have surgery and completely change how you look. But if you don’t fix what’s going on in your mind, you will never be at peace with your body.” – Leah (@devotedtopink), Body Acceptance Advocate
It doesn’t just stop at the way we look either; a negative mindset can have a catastrophic effect on the way we feel about ourselves. The feeling of not fitting in, not being good enough and our insecurities about ourselves and how we think we look can prevent us from feeling happy and even moving forward with our lives.
“I think what we often fail to understand is that shame is not an effective motivator, and every time we judge ourselves or lean into negative self-talk, we encourage self-destructive behaviours. Nothing positive comes out of negativity. The key is compassion – not only do you absolutely deserve nothing less, but compassion, love and respect for ourselves and our bodies is the key to getting to a better place all round.” – Alex Light (@alexlight_ldn), Body Confidence, Fashion & Beauty Influencer
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But how can we help change this negative behaviour pattern and start to feel more confident about our appearance without the need to change who we are or how we look? Here are five behaviours to adopt that won’t change your mindset overnight, but if repeated regularly can start to have a positive effect and allow you to feel more comfortable and, more importantly, happy in your own skin – just the way you are.
1. Nourish and hydrate your body
This isn’t to be confused with dieting or cutting out foods. Nourishing your body means trying to eat more foods that are good for you such as vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, lean meat, fish and seafood and drinking plenty of water so that you feel good. This doesn’t mean depriving yourself of foods that are seen as ‘bad’, though. Plus, making sure your body is fully hydrated keeps you healthy and less fatigued – aim for two litres of water a day. This is not about eating and drinking to make yourself look good; it’s about eating and drinking to make you feel good.
2. Exercise to feel good and not to look good
Many of us often associate the word ‘exercise’ with trying to lose weight or changing the way we look, and this is wrong. It’s so much more than that. Any kind of physical activity – whether it be a walk, a run, a HIIT session or even dancing around your kitchen – should be enjoyable and something you look forward to because of how it makes you feel. Any kind of movement or physical activity can help relieve the stresses of daily life by releasing endorphins, which can help fight anxiety and make you feel better inside; it can also help you feel more productive and less lethargic. Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t.
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3. Do something that makes you feel better every day
Our mindset can affect the way we view our body. Doing something that makes us feel good and gives us a little boost or a comforting feeling can really help the way we view ourselves. Treat yourself to a hand massage and a home manicure, put on your favourite cosy socks, wear your signature perfume – even if you’re sitting around the house – or maybe put on a little bit of your favourite makeup because you like the way it makes you feel. Showering your body with the love it deserves can make all the difference if it becomes a regular habit. If you couple it with some food for the soul too – in the form of a book or perhaps a podcast – you’re onto a winning combination!
4. Discover yourself
Get back to basics and encourage yourself to explore and write down your values and preferences as well as acknowledge your talents and achievements. This will help with self-appreciation and make you realise some of the things that perhaps you’ve forgotten about yourself. You’ll be surprised how good it feels to write this stuff down and to look at whenever you feel yourself slipping into a negative mindset.
5. Don’t compare your body to anyone else’s – embrace your uniqueness
This is easier said than done, I know, and at first, it can be a difficult habit to put a stop to, especially with the part that social media plays in modern society as we are constantly being bombarded with images of what is ‘considered’ to be the ‘perfect’ body. If need be, take a break from social media while you adopt this mindset. The end goal is to love the person in the mirror. Love them, accept them, notice, appreciate and focus on the parts you love – be it great hair, your arms, your eyes. There are no such things as imperfections. Once you’ve accepted yourself, bask in the inner peace that it brings!
“If you start to feel negative self-talk set in, try and catch it as soon as possible and ask yourself: ‘Would I say this to my friend, mum, sister – someone I love?’. If the answer is no, you shouldn’t be saying it to yourself, either.” Alex Light (@alexlight_ldn), Body Confidence, Fashion & Beauty Influencer
Some affirmations to say to yourself every day while you look in the mirror…
• My body deserves love and respect.
• My worth isn’t defined by my weight. I define my worth and I am worthy.
• My body tells my story.
• I am always the perfect age.
• My body is my home.
Over to you…