Body image is an important topic these days, especially in the yoga community. Yet not everyone knows that body image, and our mind-body relationship, can be improved. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from — we all perceive our experience in our bodies in a variety of ways. We judge ourselves based on age, size, skin color, ability/disability, sexual orientation and so much more.
And these days, with the variety of externally imposed media and social norms we're inundated with, most people tend to have a relatively negative body image. Individuals often feel unhappy about their bodies, and occasionally become obsessed with their appearance. Somehow, we forget that human beings are naturally a vast, diverse group.
Negative body image affects everyone. A study by Brown University found that 75% of "normal-weight" college-age women admitted to thinking about their weight and/or appearance "all the time" or "frequently." Similarly, almost 50% of the college-age men responded the same way. This obsession with our looks and an overwhelming lack of appreciation for our individuality, can create unhealthy thoughts, habits and patterns, resulting in an unfulfilling life and in some extreme cases, even death.
There is no better time than the present to start evaluating your relationship to your body. We all know it's the only one we'll ever have, so why waste all your time hating on yourself?
Here are 10 self-loving tips to improve your body image and innate sense of self-worth today:
1. See yourself as whole.
Remember that you are more than a sum of your parts. Rather than picking apart your features one-by-one, practice embracing yourself as whole. Your beauty is more than skin deep. Let the light within you shine.
2. Quit comparing yourself to others.
Every human being is one-of-a-kind, and we all have differences that make us unique. So if you are constantly comparing yourself to other people, especially the images of supermodels that are often digitally modified for media, you are bound to forget what makes you special.
3. Appreciate what your body is capable of.
When we start to have an attitude of gratitude for our bodies and everything we accomplish on a daily basis, our insecurities start to melt away. Begin to give thanks for everything you're able to do with your body, exactly the way it is.
4. Exercise for energy and empowerment.
The body was made to move. So get physical to feel energized and strong, not solely because you're trying to burn calories. If you make exercise fun, chances are you'll enjoy yourself and you'll want to move and play more often.
5. Treat your body with respect.
Honor yourself and do things that are nice and caring. Simple things like staying clean, hydrated and moisturized can make you feel amazing. Plus watch your words, sometimes we are incredibly unconscious about the hateful things we say about ourselves and other people.
6. Eat with consciousness.
Not everyone has an eating disorder, but lots of us practice unhealthy eating behaviors. Whether we're always eating on the go, feeling ashamed about our food choices, or obsessing about what we eat, there needs to be a shift towards consciousness and self-awareness. Take a moment to check in with your hunger and eat with mindfulness.
7. Smile more often.
Not only have smiles been proven to help reduce pain and anxiety, they are positively contagious. Plus they make you more approachable. If you smile at yourself when you look in the mirror, you might remember how good it feels to be you.
8. Dress for your body.
Every body is different and there is clothing available that works best for you. It doesn't matter what size or brand, if you put on a pair of jeans that fit just right, not only do you look good but you'll feel great. Even if your body changes, make sure you wear clothing that is right for you to feel your best.
9. Surround yourself with positive people.
Get rid of toxic friends who love drama, gossip and talking negatively about themselves and others. Surround yourself by people who are positive, inspired and a good influence.
10. Create a power mantra.
Think of your mind as a garden and your negative thoughts are the weeds. You have to not only get rid of the weeds, but you also need to plant seeds for the beautiful flowers you hope to see. When you find your mind racing toward that nasty self-talk, stop yourself, take a deep breath and choose a statement than makes you feel good. For example, "I am beautiful, powerful and worthy of love" is one of my favorite mantras.
How do YOU practice self-love?
Photo by Patricia Pena