body image,  eating disorder,  life transitions,  mindfulness,  psychotherapy

How To Practice Body Love & Acceptance

Whether body image is something you struggle with occasionally or low self-esteem has greatly impacted your life, there are strategies we can use for change. These four tips for improving body image will help shift negative thought patterns and begin the body-positive healing process.

1. Witness Your Thoughts
Sit and think about the last negative thought you had about your appearance. Whoa, that was mean! Pay attention to what your thoughts are saying. You would never say that to a friend, so why should you have to take it? The first step to freeing yourself from negative body image is to take a moment to talk back to that mean voice in your head that tells you you’re not beautiful. Tell the thought, with love, “Don’t speak to me like that.” Talking to yourself in this way doesn’t make you crazy, but it does help you stand up for yourself. Refusing to hear the negative thoughts about your body is the first step in freeing yourself from those limiting beliefs.

2. Shift Your Perceptions About Food
Body image issues often come hand in hand with disordered or unhealthy eating habits. Food is not the enemy you often make it out to be when feeling body-negative. Consider thinking about food as fuel, first and foremost. Rather than calorie counting and shaming, consider how the protein and veggies in that omelet will fuel your morning workout. Taking a moment to pause before each meal to be mindful of the ways in which each ingredient on your plate will nourish you is a great practice for developing a healthy relationship to food. 

3. Practice Self Love
What do you love about your body? Make a list of both physical and functional attributes. “I love my blue eyes,” is just as important as “I love how strong I’m becoming in yoga class.” When your thoughts about your body become negative, quickly recognize that and begin to replace them with body-positive thinking. Repeat the things you love about your body daily. Use these statements as affirmations to battle the negative thoughts. Let’s put those nagging suckers back in their place!

4. Stop Talking Trash
Are you in the habit of trash talking your appearance out loud? Are your friends putting down their appearances? Surrounding yourself with pals who talk negatively about themselves can hinder your positive thinking efforts! Let your friends know about the changes you’re making. Send them this article and take a vow together to stop trash talking your bodies! If you have a friend who continues the negative talk, let them know you think they’re beautiful the way they are. Supporting others who struggle with similar issues can further help you on your journey to a happy self-image.

Use these steps every day to improve your body image and overall happiness. Remember, making one small change in your thinking can ignite a positive ripple effect!

Haley Neidich, LCSW earned her masters degree from Columbia University and is a Licensed Mental Health Professional providing in person and online psychotherapy to clients in Florida, Connecticut and abroad. Haley is passionate about using mindfulness, spiritual principles and animal-assisted therapies to help people live happier, healthier lives.