Even if you are having a hard body image day
How we feel about and towards our body is always changing. Even if you are working to shift your relationship with your body to something that feels more neutral or even positive, it helps to know that it is normal to have ups and downs (like in any relationship). It can also help to think about being WITH your body vs trying to arrive at a destination that is somewhere else (which gives the illusion that once you have arrived, that is it, you are there and it’s all done and over). Relationships are active living things that need tending to regularly.
So you are having a challenging day with and in your body.
You are not alone.
A challenging body image day could stem from many reasons and for multiple reasons at the same time. YOUR challenging day, what has made it feel challenging and the feelings you are experiencing aren’t any less valid than someone else’s.
A comment someone made, clothing fitting differently, you are particularly stressed out, you spent a LOT of time on Instagram or Tik-Tok (on accounts and hashtags that were less than helpful) you are underslept, that diet commercial popped up for probably the 50th time this week. These could be contributing to what has left you feeling particularly badly about your body or appearance right now (or something really different than any of these).
Even if you are in a place where you are feeling really unhappy with your body, you can still practice caring for yourself and your body. You are still deserving of care.
10 Ways to Be Kind to Your Body Today
- Choose clothes that feel comfortable to dress your body in today (or change into some now). Something soft, maybe a favorite color or pattern, something flowy or stretchy or hugging. Whatever you might have that won’t dig, pinch, cut or distract.
- Take a shower or a bath. Take time to gently clean your body with warm water. Consider using products with a pleasing or comforting smell.
- Feed yourself regularly throughout the day with meals and snacks. Include protein, carbohydrate and fat throughout as best as you can.
- If it’s hot, consider making a warm drink, holding it in your hands and noticing how it warms you as you drink it. If it’s cold, consider making something with ice and doing the same. Hydration is a way to care for yourself and your body.
- Gently massage in some of your favorite hand or body lotion. Notice the smell, warmth from the massage in your hand and on your body, the richness of texture of the lotion.
- It may feel helpful to gently whisper to yourself “I am feeling (insert emotions you are experiencing) right now and this is hard/challenging/upsetting/difficult, everyone feels this way sometimes, it’s going to be ok, I am going to take care of myself” or you may find it helpful to offer other kind words or phrase towards your body “We are having a hard day today, but I am still going to take care of you, this will pass.”
- Take a nap or a go for a walk or do other movement you enjoy depending on what you need
- Give yourself a long hug or ask for one from someone you trust
- Maybe you have the ability and access to things like a facial, nail service, massage or other body related therapy. This won’t feel like the right go to for everyone, but physical touch in these forms can feel very calming, comforting and connecting.
- If journaling or creativity is your jam it may feel kind to use those outlets and gifts to offer kindness towards your body and your experience. In this way being with your emotions and experience and moving through it while engaging with your creative mind and soul, using your body to create and process. Noticing perhaps how your body allows you to show up in your day and engage in it, with other people, with things you care about or which make you feel good.
This is not an exhaustive list of what you might offer yourself, but I hope these 10 ways to be kind to your body are a helpful starting place. You may even already have some wisdom of your own on what might help you still do the things you care about and show up for yourself even when you aren’t feeling great about your appearance. Maybe you make your own list you can turn to when you find yourself here.
Just a gentle reminder: If you are working on healing your relationship with your body or getting support around exploring it and shifting how you feel- you aren’t “doing” it wrong if you have hard moments or days. We are all swimming in diet culture every day. None of us are immune to the constant messaging that pulls us away from our body and tries to pit us against it.
*If you are experiencing very intense emotions and are feeling unsafe please reach out to someone you trust (friend, family member, Dr, therapist if you have one) or call Beyond Blue (if in Australia) or present to your local hospital.