This article originally appeared in The Journal.ie
IN THE WORLD of wellness we often hear about our mental or physical wellbeing but we rarely hear about our relationship with our bodies. In reality, the most important relationship you will ever have is your relationship with yourself.
You don’t need to change your appearance, lose weight, tone up, or have a makeover in order to love your body. It’s possible to change how you feel about yourself without having to change yourself. The only thing that needs to change is how you see your wonderful self.
During confinement, many of us have perhaps felt bad about our bodies, worried about how we would look post-lockdown, and then felt worse for worrying about our appearances during a pandemic. If you can relate to this, then let me just say, you’re far from alone.
But let me also tell you, you don’t have to feel like this anymore. If this whole experience has taught us anything, it’s that life is precious. Your life might pass you by if you keep waiting to look the “right way” or be the “right weight”.
Acceptance is key
Body confidence is about accepting your appearance. Our feelings about our bodies can be positive, neutral, or negative. The way we feel can be influenced by external factors such as other people’s comments, what we see online or in the media, and how our peers and family speak about bodies.
Body confidence helps us challenge negative internal thoughts and external influences so we can start to accept and perhaps even love our bodies. It addresses unrealistic beauty standards and rebuilds our confidence.
The moment lockdown began there was a sudden surge in content online about gaining weight, isolating ourselves from the fridge, how to stay “fit and sane” and all sorts of other pressuring nonsense. This is the type of content that is supposed to “inspire” us but instead makes us feel awful about ourselves.
Some people may find this kind of content funny or harmless but for others it can be triggering and create guilt for eating, not working out more, or not being productive enough.
You may be thinking “but surely our appearances should be the last thing on our minds during a pandemic and while coming out of lockdown”, but it’s not always as simple as that. For decades we’ve been told by the diet and beauty industries that all we need to do to feel great is to look a certain way. So, when we feel bad, we can think that by looking better we’ll feel better.
We don’t realise how much of our headspace can be occupied with negative thoughts about our appearance and our plans to change it, especially when we’re home all day and have plenty of time to think about it. This is usually when our inner critics like to rear their heads and speak up.
This is the voice that tells us that we aren’t good enough as we are right now. The voice that says that we can’t wear a bikini or go without a shirt. But nobody is always right, and that especially includes our inner critics. Just because it says something, doesn’t mean that it’s true.
So how can we shush our inner critics and become more body confident post-lockdown? There are plenty of ways but my biggest tip to you right now is to stop following body bashing content online. You may think that following beauty, diet, and fitness accounts are making you feel good, but they usually are doing the opposite.
Next time you decide to look at social media, check-in with yourself and see how you are feeling beforehand then do the same after you have finished scrolling. If you feel worse than before you started, then you either need to get off social media or clean your feed. Unfollow what makes you feel bad and start following what makes you feel good.
Start speaking kindly about your body, both in your mind and to others. When your inner critic has something to say, tell it to shush and say something nice instead. Your inner critic can be all-consuming if you allow it to be. I know because I spent a large chunk of my teens and early 20’s listening to mine.
I always felt like I needed to become thinner and tried all the well-known diets (spoiler, diets don’t work). I also had a crooked bite and had to have my jaw broken and realigned. I lost some weight and I had the jaw alignment surgery, but it didn’t change how I felt about myself.
It wasn’t until I discovered body confidence that I transformed my relationship with myself and started loving, being grateful, and truly appreciating my body. It changed my life for the better and now I work on bringing that happiness to others.
My work helps people feel beautiful, be confident, and appreciate themselves. Body confidence transforms your life. Being body confident makes you feel fantastic in your own skin and it boosts every area of your life including in your career and in relationships.