Body positivity can benefit anyone, but not everyone knows how to kick-start the journey. (Just start loving my thighs? Yeah, OK thanks, internet.)
But while unlearning harmful habits and thought patterns takes time, it's so very much worth it. Here, some body positive tactics you can integrate into your life…without having to talk to yourself in the mirror Stuart Smalley-style.
1. Familiarize Yourself with Your Body
Not just how it looks, but how it moves and feels. For instance, consider taking up yoga, which requires you to stay grounded in the moment, focus on your breathing and observe your thoughts and your bodily sensations. Or try a mediation exercise where you have to move through your body bit by bit, examining its sensations.
Not so into downward dogging or reciting mantras? Make a list of all the things you love most about your body and why. If you find yourself writing more cons than pros, take a moment to examine why you feel that way and how you can change it. And make sure to find something good even in the parts you're not that fond of. For instance, you might not be crazy about your “big” boobs, but try to remember just how bangin’ they looked in that pink dress at your sister’s wedding.
2. Give the Same Energy to Others
It’s a proven fact: Complimenting others can make you feel good in return. So, find something valuable in each person you encounter, even if you don't tell them directly. And make a mental note to do this for folks of all shapes and sizes. For instance, that about-to-burst pregnant lady ahead of you in line at the supermarket—isn’t she just radiating beautiful energy?
3. Reduce Social Media's Influence
Sexy celebs, holier-than-thou influencers, your friend from high-school who clearly touched up her profile pic: Social media can be a complete bummer for anyone’s mental health, and can cause you to strive for an impossible standard. But what can you do about it? Mute or unfollow people who make you feel crappy, or create an entirely new account dedicated to body-positive media only. You could also try limiting your phone usage or blocking specific websites, which, according to recent research, could directly impact your own self-image. You might still not love the way your hair looks each morning, but at the very least you don’t need to be comparing it to Gigi Hadid’s.
4. Focus Less on Weight and More on Health
The research on the effectiveness of diets is murky, at best. But one thing’s for sure: Being driven by a number wreaks havoc on your emotional well-being, and can cause you to demonize food, and sometimes even become less healthy than you were to begin with. (There’s also ample research to suggest that many dieters are likely to regain the weight down the road.) The antidote: Make a pact to go off your diet and, instead, integrate one to three healthy habits into your life. Maybe it’s swapping your afternoon chips for carrots. Maybe it’s going for a two-mile run every Tuesday. Maybe it’s simply getting in bed an hour earlier each night. Whatever you choose, it sure beats obsessing over the calorie count on a tub of fro-yo.
5. Join a Community of Like-Minded Folks
Like most journeys, this is a tough one to go alone. So, if you’re struggling to stay healthy and positive, reach out to a pal who’s in a similar boat. (Maybe the two of you can plan a once a week gym trip, or send each other a confidence-boosting text on the reg.) Don’t have anyone in your life who fits the bill? Hundreds of communities exist both online and off, and it’s worth poking around to find your tribe. Plus, by linking up with others, you just might be able to make somebody else feel better about her own looks. A true win-win.