Ever had one of those mornings where seeing your reflection in the mirror sent you in a tail-spin? Did you feel powerless to shake off the barrage of self-critical thoughts, leaving you to feel insecure for the majority of the day?
Chances are that you've experienced the above scenario to some degree, because in our culture we are inundated with messages that tell us we need to mold our bodies into a certain prized, unrealistic body type. And for some, a focus on body image may become so intense and lead to either disordered eating and exercise habits or a full-blown eating disorder.
The point is though, we all struggle with feelings of inadequacy about our bodies in some way.
However, you totally have the power to feel comfortable, accepting, and even positive about your body! Just remember you need patience and a willingness to think, feel, and do different things for your body and self.
Read on to find out how to revamp your morning routine to boost your body image!
GENTLY STRETCH OR MOVE YOUR BODY WITH KINDNESS.
Stretching, even while still in bed, can help increase your blood flow and circulation for a healthier body. It also sends oxygen to your brain to help induce a more clear mind and improve your mood.
Next, when you move your body in a gentle way whether it is stretching or soothing yoga practice, your mindset about it is crucial. If you choose a more demanding workout, assess for a compassionate and balanced motivation. Working out because you want to feel stronger is different than needing to punish yourself for enjoying last night’s margs, chips, queso, etc. on Taco Tuesday.
If you notice negative thoughts focused on weight or shape while moving your body, counter them with statements such as “My body deserves TLC” or “I choose to focus on how my legs have literally carried me through some awesome and/or tough experiences in my life".
LIMIT TIME TRYING ON CLOTHES OR FIXATING IN THE MIRROR. HAVE A GO TO EMERGENCY "FEEL BETTER" OUTFIT.
It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex that is the mirror, and when your brain is literally wired to focus on the negative, you can become entrenched in the never-ending nitpicking session(s) of your body.
Knowing that fixating only intensifies harsh feelings of judgment (and ain’t nobody got time for that, right?!), you must be willing to make a conscious choice to stop obsessing in the mirror.
Set a timer on your phone and give yourself a reasonable time in front of the mirror to get dressed and/or do your make-up, hair, etc. When your alarm goes off, make the choice to keep moving forward in your morning routine.
Designate a fail-safe outfit in mind that is flattering, yet comfortable, helping you to feel more confident and positive when walking out the door.
(A long flowy top, scarf, and leggings anyone? I also love adding jewelry that is symbolic and meaningful. Bracelets with reminders such as 'You are enough' or 'Let it go' are a powerful visual; they provide continued motivation to be kind to yourself. Check out the great selection that www.mantrabands.com offers.)
MEDITATE WITH A COMPASSIONATE MANTRA, OR JUST REPEAT AFFIRMATIONS.
A committed meditation practice of a short 15 minutes can serious long-term benefits by changing the neuroplasticity of your brain, leveling out your mood, and allowing you to more easily let go of pesky, self-critical thoughts.
Find a quiet space and get comfortable in a seated, upright position. Feel free to turn on chill or ambient music in the background, and set a timer so you have one less worry to deal with. If you can only commit to 2- 5 minutes, even that is still worth it. (No need for all-or-nothing thinking here!)
Come up with a phrase or affirmation that you repeat as you breathe slowly and steadily. Forget about meditating 'perfectly'. If other thoughts arise (as they certainly will), simply acknowledge them, and return focus to your mantra and breath.
You may even choose to put your hands over your heart; gently connecting to your body in this way can help evoke feelings of compassion.
Here are a couple of my favorites:
I am learning to accept myself more and more.
I am deserving of love and respect at all times, no matter my shape or size.
My body, and my mind, is strong and determined; I’ve handled some tough situations in life.
I breathe in kindness, and exhale criticism.
REFLECT OR JOURNAL ON WHAT YOU REALLY VALUE.
I’d be willing to bet that you have depth to you, and that you admire so many attributes in others besides their appearance. I bet too, that you recognize you have more to offer others than worrying about your body.
What is it that really is important to you in life? Is it being dependable and loyal in your relationships? Is it having a sense of adventure and being up for trying new things on a whim? Or may it's harnessing your creative side or helping others.
Remind yourself what REALLY matters and align your thoughts and actions with your values.
If you aren't sure what your top values are, I love this free in-depth online personality assessment: www.lifevaluesinventory.org.
For me, I value embodying acceptance, compassion, adventure, connection, and peace, and I make sure to practice what I preach.
Remember, it can be a process to become accepting of your body. Be patient with yourself.
If you want a print version of this body positive morning routine to give to others or post on your mirror, please click and sign up here.
If you encounter stuck points in becoming more body positive, you may consider talking to a therapist. Oftentimes really negative body image is connected to deeper beliefs based on your past experiences and current stressors in life.
For positive body image and other emotional wellness inspiration, follow me on Instagram: @julianneschroedercounseling.
Or if interested in having me come to your school or work to help promote positive body image and self-kindess as an Embody Love Movement Facilitator. www.embodylovement.org