If you're anything like most people, you probably say a dozen negative things to yourself about your body every day. Maybe you think you can only love your body when you lose weight, get your wrinkles under control, or buy that perfect outfit. But love for your body comes not from other people and certainly not from material goods, but from within. You really can love your body, right now, no matter how much you weigh, how old you are, or how long you've struggled to accept your physique.
1. Focus on Function, Not Form
Your body is your permanent home, and focusing on its many features rather than obsessing over its form is one way to improve your self-esteem. Rather than hating your stomach or feeling hopeless about the size of your thighs, focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like. Try taking pride in your strong arms, relishing how effectively your body got through childbirth, or taking pride in the scars from your latest hiking adventure.
2. Ditch the Fashion Rags
Fashion magazines don't offer much of any value, and they can wreck your self-esteem. Images of unfathomably thin models, coupled with endless advertisements for expensive clothes and endless articles telling you to buy a new miracle product, can lead you to believe there's no way you're good enough the way you are. One study found that just 30 seconds looking at fashion magazines caused women to feel bad about themselves for days. Another suggests that women who read fashion magazines are more likely to have disordered eating and less likely to have high self-esteem. Get rid of these magazines, and you may be surprised to see how quickly your self-esteem increases.
3. Keep a List of Positive Messages
It's easy to dismiss compliments when you received them, but what if you could bank them for times you're feeling low instead? Start keeping a log of all the compliments you receive, then refer back to the list when you're feeling low. Need an even bigger boost? When you're feeling great about yourself, write your positive thoughts on index cards. Then, when your self-esteem slides downward, refer back to these cards and repeat the messages they contain out loud. It can feel a little silly, but repeating your own positive thoughts back to yourself is an excellent way to get rid of an endless stream of negativity.
4. Cultivate Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of living in the moment rather than focusing on past or future worries. Mindfulness is correlated with a boost in self-esteem, a reduction in stress, and even better health. If you're still struggling to love your body, try taking the focus off of your physical appearance by developing mindfulness. Commit to 20 minutes of meditation each day. Yoga is one excellent option, but you can also meditate by quietly repeating a mantra, counting your breaths, focusing on an object, or even deliberately working to clear your head. As you cultivate mindfulness, you may be surprised to see how quickly trivial matters – such as your weight – cease to matter.