Get Body Confident With These 6 Tips From Mental Health Experts
We all love warmer weather and longer days — but summer can also be stressful. To stay cool and comfortable this time of year, we have to bare body parts that have been under wraps all winter. Try to remember that a positive attitude goes a long way. Here are some easy tips to get body confident and ultimately feel happier in your own skin.
Broaden your view
“When you’re convinced others are judging you, remind yourself this isn’t true — it’s a distortion,” says Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, author of The Search for Fulfillment To bring this point home, ask yourself what you notice about others. “For example, when you walk by a woman pushing her grandchild’s stroller, you don’t see ‘old’ hands gripping the handles; you see the joy in her face,” Whitbourne notes. This principle applies to us all: It’s not our appearance that makes a lasting impression, it’s the good we exude.
Show yourself love
“No one is delighted when they look in the mirror and see their mother, or, God forbid, their grandmother,” says expert Carol Orsborn, PhD, the author of over 30 books about spirituality and aging. Well, at least not at first. “My grandmother had a big belly as she got older, and when I saw that in my reflection, I hated it — but then I said to myself, ‘If I loved my grandma with her bump, I have to show myself the same compassion.’” This acceptance is a spiritual practice, she says. “I’m not in control of everything, but I am in control of how I treat myself.”
Share what you’re going through
When we feel less than great about ourselves, we often want to hide away — but sharing what we’re going through helps us feel better faster, assures size-dignity activist Amanda Martinez Beck. “Just tell a trusted friend, ‘I’ve been struggling with X insecurities, and I wonder if you have too.’ Solidarity is so important to boosting confidence.”
Honor your purpose
“The purpose of our bodies is not perfection — it’s the relationships they allow with others,” declares Beck, who jots this mantra on sticky notes to keep it at the front of her mind. “I know so many women of all ages are embarrassed by their arms, for example,” she says. “Focus instead on what your body does for you, by saying things like, ‘My arms are strong enough to hug my kids,’ or ‘My thighs support my grandkids on my lap.’” Purpose trumps “perfection” every time.
Embrace your body’s changes
It’s just as bad for our self-esteem to pretend nothing has changed about our appearance over the years as it is to get upset over every new age spot, says Whitbourne. “The first time you notice more wrinkles around your eyes, it’s disorienting, and that’s okay. You can say, ‘I’m changing and I accept that things are softening around the edges.’ The key is to gradually bring these shifts into your new identity as you get older by showing yourself grace.”
Savor future memories
To boost your confidence in the moment, picture yourself five, 10, or even 20 years from now, urges Beck. “Envision yourself as an older woman thinking back on the present — what do you reflect on? Is it how you looked in a bathing suit or is it the memories you made on the beach with your family?” Seeing your future self puts you in touch with your deepest values, spurring you to make the most of every moment.