Cultivating self-love and body positivity can feel so daunting. When you’ve spent ages trash-talking your own physical form, fielding criticism from others, or dealing with any kind of negativity that has jarred you loose from a foundation of self-respect and acceptance, the road back to body love can feel long. The work can seem overwhelming. And there will be days when you wonder if you’ll ever feel at peace with yourself again.
And, the fact is, that total self-love and body acceptance are really, really difficult to achieve. I know I’M not there, and I’ve been actively working at both goals for more years than I can count. So bear that in mind: It’s a work in progress and more about the journey than any imagined destination.
However, it sometimes helps to take small-scale actions as you work your way along, tackle small projects or undertake manageable goals so that progress can be felt. Caring for your body can be expressed through something as ordinary as a manicure – a simple, relatively quick activity that forces you to pause in your daily rush to focus on your hands, a body part that toils tirelessly and is often taken for granted. Going in for a bra fitting can be a nightmare, but it can also be an amazing way to reconnect with your body. Finding, buying, and wearing a comfortable, supportive, new bra can transform your silhouette, posture, and attitude. No, really. And, of course, there’s the triad of well-worn body-love activities that are constantly recommended: Take a bath! Get a massage! Go out for a walk! Cliche for a reason: Efficacy.
But what about less concrete actions? If you don’t have time for a manicure or a massage, what else can you do to undertake some small-scale body care?
Give yourself a break
Vague, right? But I’d wager the very phrase strikes a chord in many of you. Most people are unbelievably hard on themselves (guilty as charged, right here), and seldom allow for simple breaks from their daily grind. Whether you need a short respite from your major stressor, from your exercise routine, from your daily responsibilities, consider how to make that happen. Ask for help from friends and family, take a vacation day on a random Wednesday, find a workaround somehow. Emotional turmoil strains your body, too, and taking breaks can be a great way to offer your physical self an olive branch.
Ask for hugs
I suffer from fairly severe anxiety, and just about the only thing that consistently brings me down from the Stratosphere of Worry is a long, calming hug from my husband. Physical touch can be a fabulous force for healing, and while sexual touch is its own world of wonderful, simple hugs are often easier to procure. Friends, family, lovers, ask anyone and everyone who cares for you to hug it out if you’re feeling disconnected from your body. You’ll be grounded in an instant if you’re anything like me.
Forgiving your body for something that has been frustrating you is another amazing way to scoot your way down the path to holistic self-love. This one may feel more challenging if you’re combating illness or injury, or even if you struggle with feelings of betrayal by or detachment from your body. But if it feels possible, pick something small. Forgive your body for its wiry hair, its jiggly backside, its allergies. Whatever has been irking you most lately, tackle that. Or a chunk of it. Letting go of a specific and tiresome issue can be a surprisingly healing act.
Again, body love and acceptance is a long process, though well worth undertaking. These actions may seem insignificant in the grander scheme, but that grander scheme is nothing if not a collection of small actions.
Image courtesy Julie McLeod.