Here’s the thing – loving your body doesn’t mean you have to spring out of bed every single morning without fail, look in the mirror, and think to yourself, “YES!! MY BODY IS PERFECT!!! WOULDN’T CHANGE A THING!!!”
At least, that’s certainly not my experience.
I’m beyond pleased with how much I’ve grown in regards to how I feel about my body. Most of the time, I work out to make my body and mind feel good, and I have a stable, happy relationship with food. I’m thrilled about that!
But, no matter how confident we are on our best days, most of us will inevitably experience days when we don’t love our bodies as much as we’d like to. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh or what your body fat percentage is – we all have an inner critic who pops up from time to time.
Social distancing and isolation can intensify our emotions and self-criticisms as we do our best to navigate uncharted territory. Normal health routines have been thrown off, and we find ourselves trying our best to adapt.
So, if you’re not feeling so great about yourself all the time, I would say that’s pretty understandable.
How To Deal With Bad Body Image Days
Rather than hiding away or sitting in feelings of shame, there are a few things I like to do on days when my inner critic’s voice is louder than usual. They help me, and I hope they help you, too.
Move Your Body
When I’m having a bad body image day, it’s important for me to remember that every negative thought and emotion starts in my brain.
Rather than letting my mind overwhelm my body with negativity, I like to remind myself that my mind and body are two parts of the same whole – me.
One way I put this into practice is by doing something to reinforce the mind-body connection, such as stretching, going for a walk, or doing some other form of gentle exercise. This is a way of breaking the negative feedback loop going on in my head. Rather than letting it cycle through, I try to take swift action that shows kindness to both my mind and my body.
Stay Off Social Media
I know that social media isn’t a safe place for me to be when I’m in negative self-image mode.
Social media is a fine place to be when I’m feeling my best because it’s a place where most people are displaying their best.
When I’m not at my best and my inner critic is threatening to take the driver’s seat, my mind is primed and ready to compare my life and my body to the perfectly curated and edited lives and bodies on my Instagram feed. No thanks.
Letting loved ones into my struggle has really helped in my own healing process, and it continues to help when I find myself reverting to old patterns of thought.
At first, talking about body image issues was terrifying for me. But having the courage (or desperation) to reach out to someone trustworthy has always ended up helping me in the long run.
If you’re like me, you might think, “I don’t want to burden so-and-so with this problem of mine. I’m just going to make it awkward – and besides, what could they possibly say to make me feel better?”
It’s not your friends’ or family’s responsibility to have the perfect response that erases all of your fears and insecurities. But good relationships are the ones in which we can fully trust another person to hear us and understand us. It’s not about getting a response that will magically solve all our problems – it’s about letting another person truly see us and allowing them to love us all the same.
And if they remind us of some truth about ourselves along the way, that’s a bonus.
One caveat – it’s a good idea to make sure the person you’re reaching out to for support has a solid footing when it comes to their own relationship with their body. Otherwise, you risk dragging someone down into the hole you’re in while neither of you has a ladder to get out. And that’s dangerous.
As humans, we were made to create. Creativity is the essence of who we are.
My main creative outlets are writing, playing the piano or ukulele, and recently, painting terrible watercolor flowers.
Creativity can be used to channel and express emotions. Rather than avoiding or distracting ourselves from what we’re feeling, we can let them out by writing a poem, strumming some chords on a guitar, building a piece of furniture, or crocheting a blanket. Bonus points if you create something for someone else.
Bad body image days are a big fat clue it’s time to do some self-care. Real-life self-care doesn’t always look how it does on social media – a bubble bath, a giant glass of red wine, and 500 candles – although it certainly can if that’s what you think you need.
I try to do something that addresses a need I’m experiencing:
- Do you need a laugh? Watch an episode of your favorite comedy series.
- Are you sleepy? Take a nap.
- Is your space messy? Take some time to get organized.
- Are you lonely? FaceTime a friend or family member.
- Do you need some time to yourself? Excuse yourself from your roommates or family, and take some time to recharge.
- Are you unsure of what you need? Download my journaling prompts for self-reflection below.
Feeling awesome in your own skin 24/7 is an unrealistic expectation to put on yourself. Life is full of ups and downs, but you don’t have to stay down for long!
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