Body blues can hit for a thousand different reasons. Many of those reasons are big and heavy and far-reaching and nothing that can be “fixed” by a simple behavioral change or shift in consciousness. Body blues vary in depth and breadth, and I’ve no intention of minimizing the challenges posed by that constant, low-level drone of self-loathing that can settle into your life and linger for ages.
But some body blues are more fleeting. Sometimes you’ve felt good for a nice, long stretch then get hit by a surprising setback. Sometimes you can feel leaden and discouraged, but sense that a shift toward positivity is within reach. Sometimes you know that taking action will help. Maybe just a little. So here are some suggestions for activities and ideas that might help you beat the body blues.
If you’re feeling self-conscious about your body, you may gravitate toward black, gray, and other dark neutrals. If you can force yourself to wear color, you just might be astonished by how quickly it’ll lift your spirits. If specific body parts are causing you anxiety, don’t feel obliged to bathe them in color. You don’t even need to go the clothing route! Switch to a bright handbag, throw on a colorful scarf, slip on your favorite neon ballet flats. Wearing color may not have a direct effect on your body image, but seeing color generally provides a little shot of joy. And if you see that delightful color on your body, that loosey-goosey connection can tighten up a bit.
Let me be clear: I know that body blues are often related to weight gain, and I am NOT suggesting that you begin a strenuous workout routine so you can shed those extra pounds and feel better. That’s not how I roll. But I do believe in the power of endorphins, and getting your body moving is one of the quickest ways to dump those babies into your system. When I’m feeling crappy about my body, I always want to skip the gym. And I mean always. But when I force myself to go, I am always astonished by how much better I feel.
Practice Positive Self-talk
If you’re already hanging out in the Valley of Self-loathing, likelihood is you’re busily trash-talking your body. Maybe not out loud, but internally. And one of the best ways to make that stop is simply to make yourself mindful. When you realize that you’re saying nasty things to your upper arms or rear end, pause, breathe deeply, and take the opportunity to re-route your thinking. Express a positive thought about your body – its strength, agility, resilience, beauty, balance, grace, anything at all. The more you’re able to do this, the quicker you’ll zip out of that valley. (Quick note: Don’t worry if you can’t always do this. The last thing you need is to realize you’ve been engaging in negative self-talk, and then beat yourself up for failing to reverse the behavior! Go easy on yourself.)
Again, body blues will vary in severity. These practices won’t banish any body blues indefinitely, but may help a bit in many cases. And as anyone who has visited the Valley of Self-loathing will tell you, a little bit can go a long way.
Image courtesy craigCloutier.