Spring is on the horizon, we’re emerging from lockdown here in the UK and body anxiety is rife.
A recent survey carried out by the Woman and Equalities Committee in the House of Commons on body image revealed that the majority of people feel negatively about their body most of the time and that lockdown has made people feel even worse about their body image.
The constant pressure to look a certain way – body size and shape, ability to wear what’s in fashion and have the right features – can cause us to have an antagonistic relationship with our body. If we don’t think we’re meeting the standards, we can feel like our bodies are letting us down.
So, what can we do about it? I shared my thoughts with Instyle magazine for a piece about how to deal with bad body image days.
‘Dear body, thank you for…..’
Focusing on the good stuff your body does for you by writing a short note to it gets you to intentionally shift your focus, away from thinking about your body as a thing that is letting you down, and instead focus on what it does for you and appreciating what an amazing organism it is.
Grab your journal and write a little gratitude note every day. ‘Dear body, thank you for…’
Coming out of lockdown, when you might have gained a few pounds and you’re feeling anxious about wearing Spring clothes this can help you to focus on the positives. When you do it, you can’t help but feel warmer towards your body.
Blast your favourite tune and pick out your favourite outfit…
I blast Nina Simon, ‘Ain’t go no, I got life’ as loud as possible. Distracting yourself with a powerful piece of music can lift you up and distract you from feeling bad about your body.
And, whilst you’re listening, pick out something to wear that makes you feel good – for me this mostly involves bright colours and things that don’t cling (gone are the days of forcing myself into tight jeans on bad body image days to remind me not to eat too much).
The go-to colour for bad body image days is black. Borne out of advice, no doubt rooted in diet culture, that black is the most flattering colour and that all women should own a ‘little black dress’ and wear dark colours to hide their flaws. Quite the contrary! Colour and clothes have the power to uplift and empower you. On the days when I am feeling rubbish, I’ve found one of the best antidotes is to wear something that makes me feel great.
Move your body in a way that helps you to re-connect to it and release frustration.
Bad body image days happen in our minds. Our bodies don’t actually change much on a day-to-day basis, we just see them differently dependent on how we are feeling. A really good way to work through feelings like frustration, insecurity, anxiety or whatever it is that is causing you discomfort, is to move your body. Movement is also a great tool to help you to focus your attention into the body and out of the mind where you might be overthinking.
This isn’t about pounding the pavement in an attempt to beat yourself up for weight gain. It’s about finding ways to move that make you to connect with your limbs and release difficult feelings – I call it positive mindful movement.
Whatever you choose to do to support yourself on days where you are feeling down on your body, know that it’s not your fault. There’s a lot of industries profiting from our body dissatisfaction. Keep that in mind and go gently on yourself.
The full Instyle feature can be read here.
It can also help to regularly practice small acts of self-care. For some ideas on those, read this.