10 ways to make your body feel loved in 2021
2020 has been a difficult year and it may have affected your body in different ways. When your mind and body are experiencing stress it can be difficult to exercise self-love. But after the year you’ve had, your body needs love, and we are here to help you give your body the love it deserves.
How to practice self-love in 2021
1. Stop comparing your body to others
Everybody is different and every body is different. You wouldn’t compare the body of a rabbit with that of a giraffe and that’s because both animals lead very different lives, they have different genes and eat different foods. They have very different incomparable bodies, yet their bodies are perfect for them. Your body is perfect for you and it’s the only one you have. Of course, you can have goals but don’t make it a competition. Comparisons do not make any logical sense but unfortunately, it is a very natural way of thinking, especially in a world when people are focused on the way you look. Tackle those thoughts- your body is unique and it’s useful to remember that most images online are heavily edited and unrealistic.
2. Beat negative thoughts
Having negative thoughts about your body can unfortunately be common. Many of us feel pressure to reach an impossible beauty standard. You may also feel down about your body because of your gut symptoms. You may feel like your body isn’t good enough or it’s getting in the way of you leading your best life. But that’s really unfair. Your body is actually amazing and it’s always trying the best it can in that moment. Your body is a complex machine with so many different parts working together every single second of the day to keep you alive. Be kind to yourself and tackle negative thoughts by noticing them and then disputing them. This process is known as cognitive restructuring and you can learn more about it on Zemedy.
3. Fuel your body
To show your body some love, feed it lots of the good stuff. This definitely means no restrictive diets. The good stuff to feed your body with is food! You can definitely try and increase the number and types of vegetables as these are packed full of fibre and other tasty nutrients. You should also fuel yourself with fluid including lots of refreshing water. Your body will definitely thank you for it. But the most important thing is not to leave yourself feeling hungry and eat a variety of foods from all the different food groups.
4. Treat yourself!
Your body deserves to be treated with love. Every single day it works hard to help you with whatever you want to do and that’s why it is important to give back. Whether it is indulging in a luxurious massage or simply unwinding in the bath with some candles, it’s important to treat your body to leave it feeling pampered and appreciated. A warm bath can actually do wonders for your mental health as well and has been proven to help cool your body down before bedtime to ensure a good night’s sleep. Almost certainly, your body would love to get some more good quality sleep, so why not try a nice soak before bedtime.
5. Stop blaming, start understanding and training your attention
When you feel bloated or are experiencing abdominal cramps, it can be so easy to resent your body or feel like you want a new one. But understanding why your body is feeling that way is very important. Bloating is the production of gas and shows that your gut is working hard! It is breaking down nutrients and creating the gas as a side-product. The reason you feel pain is because your body wants to warn you against danger. In IBS, that danger signal is a little too enthusiastic but realising that it’s just trying to keep you safe will help you change that resentment to understanding.
And what’s more, there is a way to stop these enthusiastic yet inappropriate pain and bloating signals from taking over your life and that is attention training which trains you to lessen your gut sensitivity by focusing your attention away.
6. Get that body moving
Moving your body is a great way to show it some love. Exercise tones your muscles and helps you use up stress hormones. The result is a release of endorphins and feeling less stressed. Doing activities you love is the best way to exercise. So why not try some dancing, swimming, or playing your favourite sport. Never do exercise as a punishment or as a forfeit. Although it may seem tempting to exercise after indulging in a tasty meal, this is actually damaging. Exercise should always be a way of taking care of yourself or a rewarding experience.
7. Rest and digest
The flight and fear system is fuelled by our stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Whereas our rest and digest system is fuelled by the lesser-known hormone acetylcholine. Encouraging the parasympathetic system to flourish is a great way to boost resting and digesting. How to do this? Learn the techniques of relaxation. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is through diaphragmatic breathing. This is a method of slow deep breathing which has a fantastic way of resting which allows your body to recuperate.
8. Appreciate yourself
We all take our bodies for granted. It can be easy to forget how spectacular each and everybody is. From the millions of nerves which allow us to experience the five senses and the incredible immune system which identifies and tackles infections. Our bodies are constantly working and creating. Even when we sleep, our digestion, our circulation and our nervous system all continue to work. It can be useful to create a body gratitude journal where you thank your body every day. For example, you can thank your body for allowing you to see the world around you.
9. Embrace your quirks
Sometimes it can be easy to put ourselves down due to what makes us different. But these very differences are what make us unique. It’s ok to embrace these differences. Instead of trying to conform to a beauty standard or merge in amongst a group of people, it’s ok to accept that you are different. Maybe your tummy makes funny noises sometimes or perhaps you have a birthmark. Shame and stigma against differences need to be tackled and owning your own differences will lead to you feeling more confident about your body.
10. Experience new things
Why not try something new in 2021? This is a great way to allow your body to show you what it’s capable of and it can actually provide many benefits. New experiences can improve your attention, emotions and can create lasting memories. It can also increase your confidence when you manage to achieve something new which you were perhaps afraid of doing. With IBS, you may be avoiding new experiences. Using exposure therapy and behavioural experiments (available on Zemedy) can be a great way to tackle avoidance behaviours.
There are so many ways to show your body love, whatever you do in 2021, make sure to appreciate your amazing body and practice some self-love. We would love to hear your journey of self-love and hear any tips which have worked for you.