12 Proven Ways to Boost Your Body Image in 10 Minutes or Less
It’s hard to pull yourself out of a body-loathing funk, but our proven tips from experts will give your body image a huge boost—fast!
Say hello to Mother Nature
Taking a walk outdoors can help us feel better about our bodies, a study suggests. The study authors say that being in a natural environment takes us away from environments that are appearance-focused, which can cause poor body image. Additionally, being outdoors can capture our attention, which means there’s no time for negative thoughts. Need proof? Think about how relaxed you were the last time you paused to admire a beautiful sunset. Here’s how to look and feel more confident, instantly.
Listen to your heart
It’s probably no surprise women have a tendency to regard their bodies more in terms of how it looks rather than appreciating their body for its physical competence and health. In one study, female subjects were asked to concentrate on their heart and count their heartbeats; then their accuracy counting heartbeats was compared with their degree of self-objectification. It was revealed that the more accurate the women were in counting the heartbeats, the less they regarded their bodies as mere objects. These celebrities get frank about how they deal with body confidence.
You don’t need a perfect body or flat tummy to learn how to move sensually; in fact, belly dancers are admired for their curves. That said, it’s not surprising to learn that belly dancers report having a more positive body image and less body dissatisfaction than those who have never belly danced, a study found. As it turns out, belly dancing fosters a greater sense of connection between the body, mind, and spirit, all key to maintaining a positive body image. “The belly dancers weren’t so focused on external appearance but more the internal experiences and competencies of the body,” body image expert and leader of the study, professor Marika Tiggemann told medicalxpress.com. One of these medical conditions might be contributing to your anxiety.
Look in the mirror
When you feel like you’re having a “fat day,” you may do everything you can to avoid looking in the mirror. But that’s a mistake, found a study from the Journal of Rational-Emotive & Cognitive-Behavior Therapy. Instead of focusing on your appearance and all the things you don’t like about it, look in the mirror and say, “My hair looks great” or “I’m a wonderful person.” “It’s a very powerful experience to no longer say mean things to yourself in the mirror,” says Lori Osachy, MSS, LCSW, owner of The Body Image Counseling Center and the Text2BWell positive body image program. Here are more tips to help you instantly turn around a bad mood.
Clean your closet
Many women hang on to a closet full of “fat” and “skinny” clothes, that they’re keeping “just in case.” Osachy urges women to clear out both, as “they keep you in a negative body image prison.” Once you get rid of them and have a closet full of clothes that fit you today, you’ll feel more beautiful and comfortable in the body you have now.
10 things I like about me
Would you say the same harsh and critical things about yourself to someone else? So why do you continue to say them to yourself? Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself, focusing on things that aren’t related to your looks or weight. (If you find this task difficult, enlist the help of your friends or family.) “When you stop judging yourself so harshly, you begin to see your strengths, as well as your perceived flaws. Build up your self-confidence by talking nicely to yourself and by reminding yourself of everything you have to offer the world,” says Sarah Allen, PhD, Chicago area psychologist specializing in mood and eating disorders. Try these 22 ways to remind yourself that you’re worthy.
You know how it starts—you wish your belly was firmer, then you notice your thighs—oh my gosh, the cellulite! Soon, you’re out of control. Allen has a simple grounding trick to stop the negative-thought train, slow down those adrenaline-fueled critiques, and help you feel strong and capable in your body. “Stand up and 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.” Finish by inhaling and exhaling for a count of four. For more inspiration, read this advice from Jordyn Woods on feeling good about your body.
Exercise for the right reasons
Do you drag yourself to the gym in the hopes of losing ten pounds? Or do you look forward to going because you know you’re doing something good for your body and health? “Changing our views on exercise is essential in the pursuit of loving our bodies,” says Osachy. “Listen to your body and exercise for the joy and fun of it. Focus on how good your body feels when you’re exercising,” she says. (P.S. Have you heard about the Straight/Curve documentary? Here’s how it wants to change the world.)
Start your day with a mantra
Good or bad, our brain takes in and internalizes what we tell it. Use that to your advantage and tell it something good by starting the day with a positive mantra. Find a mantra that speaks to you and say it daily. “For example, saying, ‘I am more than my body. I am kind. I’m a hard worker and dedicated friend’ can be helpful when starting the day,” says Laura Fonseca, MSW, LCSW, a therapist specializing in eating disorders. “The more we say these powerful mantras to ourselves, the easier it will be for our brain to accept and believe them.” Try these mantras give your morning a positive boost.
Thank you, body
If you spend a few minutes thinking about it, you will discover many things that you are thankful your body does for you each day. Jot down the things that you are thankful your body does for you. For example, “I am thankful that my legs allow me to walk and play with my dog.” “When you start to appreciate your body for what it can do rather than how it looks, you’ll start to develop a very different relationship with it,” notes Fonseca. Exercise gives your confidence a boost, too. Here’s how much you need to workout each day to reduce your risk of depression.
Harness the power of social media
Social media often seems like a highlight reel of everyone’s flawless bodies, and in contrast, you may feel like yours is the blooper reel. But this study found that looking at plus size models can help you feel more comfortable in your own skin. Annie Wright, LMFT, a licensed psychotherapist and owner Evergreen Counseling in Berkeley, California, assigns clients struggling with body image to follow Instagram pages of plus size models/body-positive activists like @theAshleyGraham or @mynameisjessamyn. “I encourage them to spend a few minutes looking at these pages until they feel more accepting of themselves and their self-esteem has boosted,” says Wright.
Get active in activism
Walk the talk and help yourself and others bring about positive societal change through greater body acceptance. Why not teach others how to improve body image as a way to raise your own? “Getting started is as easy as helping a friend or young person in your life learn to challenge cultural appearance ideals (the ‘thin ideal’) or beauty pressures,” suggests Kate Clemmer, LCSW-C, community outreach coordinator at The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt. Take our quiz and find out if you have a healthy body image.
Originally published as 12 Proven Ways to Improve Your Body Image in 10 Minutes or Less on ReadersDigest.com.