Do you ever look in the mirror and focus on a particular body part you are unhappy about and then start to be hypercritical and notice and worry about other parts of your body too? You wish your bum wasn’t quite as big in those jeans and then you notice your thighs and the wrinkles on your knees and soon your negative, super critical thoughts are out of control. Here are three ways you can nix those negative thoughts and boost your body image.
1. Get Grounded
Thoughts race from one thing to another because they are fueled by adrenaline. We think something negatively about one part of the body and those thoughts spiral, increasing our anxiety about how we look until we can start to feel utterly hopeless about our whole body.
This simple grounding trick helps you get out of your brain and into your body so you can feel how strong and capable your body is. Start by standing up. Feel that negative energy fueled by those criticisms you are saying to yourself. Let the energy travel down from your brain, through your body and down through your legs and feet. Like roots of a tree the energy is connecting you to the floor. Feel how strong your legs are. Feel the energy coming down your arms and out of your fingertips, shake it out. Be present in your body and breathe in slowly for the count of 4, hold for 4 and breathe out for 4.
Now that your brain isn’t racing, let’s take a calm look at those critical things you are saying to yourself and challenge their validity.
2. Stop That Critical Voice & Be Kind To Yourself
Try to notice what exactly you are saying to yourself when you are being critical about your body. You are probably being very harsh on yourself. You wouldn’t dream of saying those things to anyone else so why is it okay to talk to yourself that way?
Write down a list of your top-ten strengths: What do you like about yourself? What do you do well? Many people I work with find it hard to come up with a list of positive things about themselves, so I suggest they ask a couple of supportive friends to chime in too. Not just about how you look but who you are as a person. When you stop judging yourself so harshly, you begin to see your strengths, as well as your perceived flaws. Build up yourself-confidence by talking nicely to yourself and by reminding yourself of everything you have to offer the world is a powerful tool you can use to head of self-criticism.
3. Use Your Body To Trick Your Mind
Another way to get your body to influence your mind is to do the “Wonder Woman” stance, feet apart, hands on your hips , chin up and shoulders back. Smile! Tell yourself you are great. Louder, I didn’t hear you! That’s right, loud and clear, smile and tell yourself how great you are!
Ann Cuddy’s research on body language found that adopting a positive and strong body pose can actually subconsciously change the brain to give us a message that we are a confident person. It also reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone)and so reduces stress levels. Cuddy’s research showed again and again that when people adopt an expansive confident stance they actually feel more confident and better about themselves.
Dr. Sarah Allen is a psychologist who specializes in empowering women to live the life they want. She sees clients in her Northbrook office or throughout Illinois via telephone or Skype sessions. This blog post was originally posted on Sarah’s blog.
Like this post? Check out, “Women Over 40: Do you Love Your Body? You Better!”