I rarely hear women describe their body in a gentle manner. I must confess that it’s still something difficult for me as i was not used to do it. Old habits die hard!
Our society doesn’t help. We’re bombarded with TV ads for diet programs (especially in January wow!), we compare ourselves to others on social media or to models on magazines (and I remind you than the latter use a lot of Photoshop!).
Hopefully, more and more influencers on social media are trying to change things with a body positive trend but it’s still a shy movement.
But as I always say, your body is your temple. Your body is your one and only asset for life.
It is your HOME!
My wake-up call on how important is my body was the birth of my daughter. Thinking that this body which I was not always kind to can give birth to this beautiful and healthy baby… OMG! Human body is just genius. And it can do so much more.
And after what I did to it during years and years, it’s still here, ready. It’s still here ready to help me taking care of my child. It’s still here ready to support me on my dream. Still here!
But I’ve learnt to respect my body. I’ve learnt to give it what it needs. And that’s key.
It’s important to keep in mind that every experience you go through is an opportunity to learn about your body. It’s important for you to cultivate self-compassion rather than shame and blame that will not help you to grow and learn. On the contrary, some studies have associated self-compassion with well-being, more happiness and greatest personal initiatives to make changes needed in your life. It’s not a way to find excuses but rather being in a neutral and understanding consideration of yourself and your actions. It can help you overcome your guilt and promote change.
Self-compassion is also a good way to counter your “critical inner voice”. Let’s face it, we all have this little voice saying “Hi” sometimes once in a while, sometime daily and criticizing all we do, all we think or all we are. And this voice can be pretty harsh on your mind and on your trust in your body, by doubting everything. And if your self-esteem is especially low, trying to deal with this voice isn’t that easy. That’s where self-compassion can help you tremendously and lower this inner voice.
Nurturing self-compassion will make it easier for you to admit your vulnerability or your mistakes and change unproductive behaviors to take on new challenges.
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—as opposed to, for instance, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants or thinks they need.
A conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits especially positive mood and protect you from stress and depression according to some studies.
If you approach gratitude with an open mind, I’m sure you can find something about you, your life and your body that you appreciate.
Practicing gratitude every day will help you to start trusting your body because you will notice how strong it is, how you can count on it on a daily basis and your mindset will be more and more positive. It can also improve your physical health, mental health in general, your sleep and have a positive impact on your self-esteem as well.
Self-care doesn’t need to be something extravagant or expensive and indeed, you can practice self-care in simple and straightforward ways :
Washing your face and your hair regularly (and not waiting to feel like a mess)
Going to the dentist on a regular basis to check everything up
Moving your body with pleasurable activity like walking in nature and taking time to breathe in fresh air
Taking care of what you put in your body : healthy and nutritious foods
Taking care of what you put ON your body : using organic/natural beauty products with no-chemical/less chemical
Respecting your body needs for rest and sleep
Another way to practice self-care is with meditation.
One of my favorite meditation exercise is body scan. Practicing body scan can help you to tune into a mode of perceiving that is more centered and grounded rather than being in concepts. Body scan can also help you to lean into discomfort but in a positive way as it helps unpleasant sensations to derail you. When you approach them with interest, we can start to find out what have triggered them like stressful thoughts or reactions.
You see : nothing fancy, just daily self-care!
Have you ever notice some repetitive patterns in your life? Try to figure that out!
For example, I know that every time I have a cold and I’m lacking sleep, a cold sore appears immediately after. Bam! I know that I haven’t given enough rest to my body.
I have noticed also that my skin and my hair can be really dry when I’m not hydrated enough.
You can start journaling to help you notice your repetitive patterns and do a check in from time to time.
A good question to ask is: Am I reliving the same situation, over and over again? When does it happen? How things are showing up?
For a while it will seem like coincidences playing out, but over time the pattern will come up. This is how you will learn to know more your body and in the end trust in it.
A common health myth is that we always have to be “good,” eat perfectly, and act perfectly. Being “good” means different things to different people, but it usually means following the
rules, being a “good” person by putting everyone else before yourself, conforming to societal norms and behaviors, and doing everything perfectly.
But rules are disruptors. Rules can erode trust in your body and lead to confusion especially when they conflict with the direct experience of your body.
If for example, you’re hungry at 11am but not in the morning at 7am, don’t eat a breakfast just because you “should” eat a breakfast. Listen to your hunger.
If you’re hungry one hour after eating, well, really hungry and not hangry or stress, just eat!
If you’re not hungry anymore, stop eating and don’t finish your plate just because your mom told you that finishing your plate is being polite.
Don’t follow rules just because someone told you to. Follow your feelings!
Explore where in your body you experience different physical states or emotions such as stress, hunger or feeling thirsty. Is it pleasant or unpleasant?
Paying attention to your body’s physical sensations on a regular basis will help you to hear it and in the end to trust it.
Keep in mind that these sensations are not right or wrong. They’re just information.
Know that it’s only with practice that you’ll break the code to understand your body. So if you don’t succeed on first times, it’s ok. Practice self-compassion and try again later. There is no rush or deadline to accomplish and that’s fine.
Everybody is different so stop listening to everyone else and listen to you.
All these tips will help you to increase your awareness of sensations that arise.