The Dos and Donâ€™ts of Self Love
Donâ€™t: compare and despair
Stop comparing yourself to others. Accept your body as it is. Write an inventory of things about you that you like. Start by looking in the mirror â€“ what do you like? Then, what attributes not related to appearance do you like? Think about your friends and family â€“ what achievements, values and personality traits do you appreciate in them? Notice how you can easily reflect on their â€œinner beautyâ€, not their body size or shape.
Donâ€™t: use â€˜fat talkâ€™
Avoid conversations about size, weight, feeling â€˜fatâ€™ etc, bith in your own head and in convsersations with friends. Write sticky notes for yourself on your desktop and around your room/office with positive affirmations, like â€˜Your smile is beautifulâ€™, â€˜you radiate energy and beautyâ€™ etc. Avoid magazines, instagram or other media channels that advocate stick thin bodies or other appearance focused material. Promote body diversity â€“ people come in all different shapes and sizes and we also have different tastes and styles. Thatâ€™s what makes the world such a wonderful and diverse place.
Do: focus on function over form
Focus on what your body can do! Set positive, performance oriented goals instead of weight loss goals. For example, why not do a long charity walk, and train by walking every weekend with friends/family for one or two hours. Or enter an obstacle race and have a blast tackling mud pits and tires. Focus on your health, rather than having the perfect body. See body shame as part of your mind/ thinking rather than a problem with your body. Overcome it psychologically.
Do: treat yourself well
Take time out for yourself; suspend criticism; practice kindness & self compassion. If you were your best friend, what would you say/ do to yourself? Imagine your younger self, what would say/ do to them? Dress as you would if you were happy with your appearance. Wear clothes that make you feel good! Exercise for pleasure and because it makes you feel good!
Do: practice intuitive eating
Trust yourself to eat nutritious foods when you naturally feel hungry. Donâ€™t engage in fad dieting, unnecessary fasting, or anything else that creates more obsession over food and calories. Avoid â€œdiet talkâ€. What foods make you feel good in the long run? What are the most nutritious foods? Eat three regular meals a day and healthy snacks in between if youâ€™re hungry. Donâ€™t obsess over the small things â€“ everything in moderation is fine. If confused, feed yourself as you would feed your children â€“ with lots of healthy â€˜everydayâ€™ food, and occasionally â€˜occasionalâ€™ food. Avoid wolfing down your meal in front of the computer. Eat mindfully â€“ slowly chewing each mouthful, enjoying the flavours and textures.
Article adapted courtesy of Sarah McMahon at Body Matters, (Psychologist and Director)