Mindfulness has become somewhat of a buzzword in recent years. It’s commonly used in the mental health sector, but because it’s so popular, it’s easy to disregard it as just another “fad” or technique that doesn’t work.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, mindfulness has incredible benefits. It can help with anxiety, depression, and stress. It’s also a constant, useful practice if you struggle with self-esteem or body image issues.
Body positivity has become an increasingly important topic. Even the beauty industry is starting to take notice, with many major brands hiring more diverse models with different ethnic backgrounds people of all shapes and sizes. Hopefully, one day, societal standards on what makes someone beautiful will shift completely. For now, though, far too many people still struggle with their body image.
So, how can mindfulness help? How can you use it every day to boost your self-esteem and feel good about your beautiful body?
Let Go of Negative Thoughts
One of the great things about mindfulness is that it isn’t a tool that forces you to just “think happy thoughts”. Instead, it focuses on the idea that you’ll have thoughts – both positive and negative – and you don’t have to hang onto them.
When you’re practicing mindfulness, you’re staying in the present moment. The idea is not to worry about the past or the future. As thoughts start to enter your mind, let them go. Sometimes, a cloud illustration is used to describe this process. Think of cloud watching on a sunny day. Clouds will pass by, but you can’t hang onto them. You can let them go and they will continue to pass.
This practice allows you to push away negative self-talk. Instead, you can pay more attention to your body. Be mindful of when you feel the happiest about yourself. When do you feel strong and healthy? When you’re connected with your breath and your body, there’s less room for negative thoughts about your image to creep in.
Practice Mindful Eating
You’ve probably heard the saying, “you are what you eat”. But, there’s more truth to that statement than you might realize. Mindless eating is a real problem in our country. Some common examples include:
- Eating when you’re bored
- Snacking when you’re distracted
- Continuously eating something while you’re watching television
- Eating because you’re upset/depressed
As the name suggests, when you’re mindlessly eating, you may not even fully realize what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.
But, too much mindless eating can lead to problems like weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes, heart conditions, and stroke.
Mindful eating, on the other hand, is a fantastic way to show respect to your body. It helps you transform your relationship with food. You’ll focus more on what you’re eating, how you’re eating, and why you’re eating certain things. Mindful eating isn’t about deprivation. It’s about focusing on how to take care of your body and eat the things that make you feel good, whether you’re at home, at a restaurant, or even at a party. When you know to eat strategically at social functions, you can manage your healthy lifestyle well.
When you eat mindfully, you don’t have to stress about dieting or avoiding certain foods. It’s a matter of actively thinking about the foods you do eat. So, while fueling your body with whole grains, fruits and vegetables most of the time will help you feel your best, it’s can also be beneficial to mindfully eat a piece of chocolate from time to time, as long as you savor the taste and enjoy it with intention.
Celebrate Your Body with Movement
We live in a society where far too many people exercise with superficial goals in mind. While some do it for better health, others focus on how they look, how muscular they can get, or how much weight they can lose. On the other hand, however, a very small percentage of Americans get enough regular exercise.
Exercising mindfully is a way to celebrate your body for what it is, and recognize what it can be. It’s easy to exercise mindfully, no matter what type of activity you’re doing. Some tips to keep in mind include:
- Paying attention to your movements
- Living in the moment and bringing intentionality to your workout
- Accepting yourself and your body
- Focusing on your breathing through each exercise
If you’re having a hard time being mindful while you’re on a treadmill or lifting weights, try something that is dedicated to movement and breathing, like yoga. Yoga is a great way to feel more connected with your own body, and it doesn’t require an expert skill level. You can take a class, practice at home, or even take a break during your workday to do some exercises at your desk.
Learning to accept your body through mindfulness is a wonderful way to see yourself for who you really are, and love yourself no matter what. By banishing the negative self-talk and truly taking care of yourself from the inside out, you’ll recondition your way of thinking more positively and healthily.