Struggling to love what you see in the mirror? You’re not alone. Many people struggle to have a positive relationship with their bodies. Having a poor relationship with your body can cause many issues that negatively affect your life, including poor self-care habits, struggles in relationships, and mental health issues. Here, we’ll take a look at five concrete steps you can take to begin the journey of loving yourself–and your body.
1. Stop focusing on what your body can’t do–focus on what it can do instead.
We’ve all been there: looking in the mirror and seeing everything we wish we could change about our bodies. When you’re looking at yourself in the mirror, take a moment to stop criticizing, and start appreciating the arms that can pick up your kids, the face that can smile at your coworkers, and the legs that help you get through each day.
2. Add nutrition to your diet instead of restricting or eliminating foods.
Stop thinking about the foods that you "can’t" or "shouldn’t" have, and instead, focus on the delicious foods you can add to your diet that make you feel great. Having pizza night? Add some extra nutrition by topping your slice with veggies, or by having a salad on the side. Looking forward to your morning latte? Get a little extra pep in your step by adding a banana, some scrambled eggs, or some low-sugar yogurt on the side.
3. Stop hanging onto clothes that make you feel bad.
You know those jeans you have hanging in the back of your closet? The ones that fit a decade (or two) ago? Trash ’em. There’s no need to hang onto "someday" clothes. If you have clothes that make you think negative thoughts about your body, there’s no need to hang onto them.
4. Move your body in a way that you love–or, at least, that you don’t hate.
It’s ok if you don’t love exercise, but that doesn’t mean that you can totally skip out on moving your body in a meaningful way. Setting a small goal (like moving for 20 minutes three days each week) can help you begin to appreciate your body for carrying you through life. Whether you prefer going outside for a walk, doing a yoga video on YouTube, or taking a dance class with a friend, moving your body can help you remember all the ways that it supports you in day to day life.
5. Speak to yourself the way you’d speak to your best friend.
You wouldn’t put up with someone talking down to your best friend about their body–and you shouldn’t put up with anyone talking down about your body either (even if that person is yourself). When you catch yourself in a cycle of negative self-talk about your body, pause, and consider how you’d feel if you heard someone speak that way to your best friend. Take a minute to frame your thoughts in a more positive manner, and remember that you deserve to be treated with love.