This week’s topic has been inspired by my clients! On a recent call, they were all having their own version of a bad body image day. It was great timing, because they were able to experience it together. Sometimes it’s so powerful just to know you aren’t alone, and to be supported by other women who get what you’re going through!
The Need for Control
We’ve all had bad body image days. Whether our clothes don’t fit right, we feel we’re not fitting in, or we’re just overall discouraged – it happens to all of us. Often it feels like they just come out of nowhere! The reality is, however, bad body image days don’t come out of the blue.
On my group coaching call, I pushed a little deeper to learn more about what else was happening. Unsurprisingly, each women in the program had stressors in her life over and above body image. From huge moves to postponed weddings, they were carrying a lot!
Often, when our world feels like it is falling apart or out of control, we turn to controlling our bodies as a coping mechanism. We want to be able to control something, and we turn that need on our bodies. Even when we want to be free from old mindsets, stress has a way of pushing us towards old habits.
5 Tips for Recovering from Bad Body Image Days
Tip #1 – Check in with yourself and identify other stressors.
Give yourself the time to identify other stress factors that may be bothering you. Because honestly: the size of your body is likely not the only cause of your frustration.
This is also a chance to see if you’re keeping up with your self-care. Two of my clients on the call realized they had had a lapse with their normal walking and yoga practices. These were things they really enjoyed as forms of self-care, and when they quit doing them, they saw a difference! Whether you’ve been extra busy, changed your routines, or were taking a break, you’ll often find there are side-effects when you cut yourself off from self-care habits that have been reducing stress and helping you feel good in your day-to-day life.
Tip #2 – Allow yourself to feel your feelings.
When you suppress your feelings, things tend to come out a bit sideways. You’ll find another way to express your frustration, hurt, or anger – and that might get channeled towards your body!
It is absolutely okay to feel “bad”. Whether you need a good cry, a pillow punching session, or venting to your bestie, don’t be afraid to feel whatever you feel and let it all out.
Tip #3 – Go back to basic body love practices.
Now that you know your stressors and are feeling your feelings, you can start showing your body love. One option is to try a body gratitude practice. Choose a time of day, and spend time thanking your body in specific ways.
Yesterday my body gratitude included thanking my body for completing a yoga class, even though I was stuck inside all day.
All day long your body is showing up for you. She helps you be the partner, parent, colleague, creator, and all around human that you are. Thank her for it! And not only does gratitude feel good, it helps move you away from the build up of negative mental talk. You might envision that negative voice as being hurt or scared. Try using positive talk to soothe it. As you become calmer and more centered on gratitude, you may find your bad body image day slipping away effortlessly.
Another option is to dress your body in a fun, meaningful way. Wearing a fancy dress you don’t have a reason to put on often, a brightly colored scarf, or something else that helps you feel confident and good can go a long ways towards defeating a bad day!
Finally, imagine you and your body are friends, and ask her what she needs right now. Once she tells you, listen and act! Whether that means a hot bath, a long walk, a restful evening in, a vigorous bike ride outdoors, a delectable chocolate snack or a lovely homemade dinner – do what you can to honor the needs your body communicates.
Tip #4 – Double down on self-care.
Sometimes you need to double down on the stuff that makes you feel good. In addition to body love practices, what else do you need?
Nourishing meals, a special gift, time with a friend – what can you give yourself that would feel really good right now?
Interestingly, we’re sometimes tempted to turn away from self-care when we aren’t doing well. The more negative and frustrated we feel, the more tempted we are to hibernate with Netflix and shut down. Often, however, that is not the approach that will make us feel the best!
If you have self-care favorites to draw on, do that! And if not (or if none of your old standbys appeal to you), don’t be afraid to try something new. Maybe an improv class, an expressive dance experience, an outdoor adventure, a new book store – do a bit of digging and see what stands out!
Tip #5 – Remember it was just a day.
No matter how rough it feels, it’s still just a day. You haven’t “ruined” any progress you’ve made, and this isn’t permanent.
Sometimes bad body image days happen. They can feel like they come out of nowhere, and they can effect us each in a different way. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be perfect, and don’t assume that you’re failing because things aren’t feeling really good in the moment.
A bad day doesn’t have to turn into a bad week, month, year, or life (even if it feels like it could!). In fact, bad days can help us enjoy the good days that much more. Next time you’re having a rough time, take a deep breath, listen to this podcast again, and try some of the tips.