Everyone occasionally struggles with their body image, but it’s important not to normalize negative self-talk or to let criticizing your body become a habit. Cultivating a positive, confident attitude toward your body instead is too beneficial to miss out on. It lowers your likelihood of developing mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Body confidence leads to happier, stronger relationships overall as well, including the one you have with yourself.
The following tips can help you start breaking bad body-image habits and replace them with healthy, nurturing new ones. Which ones will you start with first? How do you like to keep negative thoughts and feelings about your body at bay?
1. Fall in Love with Exercise
If you think of exercise as nothing more than a way to conform to narrow social standards about what your body should look, it’s officially time to think again. Regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy and taking care of your body on every level, including mentally and emotionally. It’s also something that deserves to be enjoyed, as opposed to treated as a punishment for eating too many doughnuts.
Any activity that gets you up and moving counts as exercise, so choose something you genuinely enjoy. Yes, you’ll love how toned exercise makes you look, but you’ll also find yourself celebrating everything your body can do before too long.
2. Limit Social Media Use
If you could swear scrolling through your feeds on Facebook or Instagram makes you feel worse about yourself, it’s not your imagination. The endless parade of vacation photos, perfect selfies, and humblebrags can easily give onlookers the impression that they’re the only ones out there who aren’t completely satisfied with their lives or their looks.
Keep in mind that other people’s pages are carefully curated highlight reels, so you’re only seeing what they want you to see. (Facetune and Photoshop make it even easier to make life seem perfect when it’s anything but.) Limit your screen time to make staying in touch with reality easier. Fill your feeds with people, brands, and accounts that inspire you, as opposed to bringing you down.
3. Take Control of Your Pleasure
Not feeling as body-confident as you’d like can affect your ability to enjoy intimacy with a partner. If you’re busy worrying about how your body moves or your O-face looks, you’re not getting lost in how pleasurable the experience is. The same thing can happen if you’re too focused on your partner’s pleasure at the expense of your own.
A great way to cultivate a better relationship with your body is to learn how to please it. Treat yourself to a fantastic new luxury sex toy and put it through its paces. Learning what types of stimulation feel the best to your body helps you enjoy partnered sex more. You’ll become a more passionate, less inhibited lover as well. It’s hard not to fall madly in love with your body under circumstances like those.
4. Upgrade Your Look
When you aren’t happy with your body, it’s all too easy to let your look go stale over the years. You get into the habit of wearing shapeless, nondescript things to hide your figure and trying your hardest to blend in instead of standing out. It’s easy to forget how much fun expressing yourself through your looks can be.
You don’t have to wear a size two to treat yourself to clothing that makes you look good and feel good. Breathe new life into your wardrobe by getting rid of anything that doesn’t fit, doesn’t make you look good, or isn’t “you” anymore. Replace those things with stylish, contemporary new clothes that are not only comfortable but make you look your best.
5. Focus on the Positive
Life is about so much more than what you look like. It’s also way too short not to spend it appreciating everything that makes it awesome. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself and love about your life. Hang it up somewhere you’ll see it often and be reminded to keep things in perspective. Actively work on replacing negative self-talk with positive affirmations as well.
It’s OK if you have to fake it at first. Thinking more positively will likely become second nature given enough time and practice. If not, there’s no shame in asking a counselor for additional help. Sometimes body image issues have underlying causes that need to be addressed before you can get where you want to be.
At the end of the day, all bodies are beautiful, capable, and worthy of being appreciated. Yours is no exception, so take steps to love it a little more sooner rather than later. You’ll be glad you did.