Body activists don’t have it all figured out. I still feel the effects of our messed up society. If I’m lucky, it’s a simple “Aw man, I feel sucky” but other days it’s “I’m the ugliest person on the planet.”
Self-love has helped me build an armor against the evil voices hissing in my head, and more often than not, I can snap out of it pretty quickly. But some days, I can’t shake the pure hatred, even though my brain knows that it’s bullshit. I’ll fully admit that I have these days, especially when my digestive issues start flaring up or a war breaks out on my face.
You can have a bad body image day while still having a positive body image overall. We all have bad body image days, but it doesn’t have to be the theme.
What happened? Just yesterday you felt fine. Now you feel like an overinflated circus balloon only able fit into palooza pants (maybe).
Sometimes our brains don’t always listen to reason. Sometimes our eyes don’t see our bodies for what they really are. Every reflection we look into is distorted and we shoot down every compliment and attempt to feel better about ourselves. It’s freaking HARD!
It sucks to feel embarrassed or unhappy with yourself, but in a world where we’re constantly falling into the comparison trap, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve to flip your mindset around.
Remember, practice makes
perfect progress, so using these tricks over and over is the way to adapt and build new habits.
❤ Hold up. Pause. Take a few moments to think and breathe before your decide to launch into a mental tirade on your appearance. Ask yourself: What am I feeling right now that’s making me unhappy? Is it stress, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed? What happened or what am I worried about that’s making me feel this way? What kind of a long-term solution can I put into place to change the thing that’s bothering me? And what kind of short-term self-care plan can I design in the meantime? What would be more beneficial to channel my energy into today?
❤ Do the opposite action. Find something on your body that you are thankful for and take a moment or two to thank it! This could mean writing it down, saying it out loud in the mirror, or quietly saying it to yourself. Instead of focusing on the way your body looks, start acknowledging and appreciating your body for all that it allows you to do. Your body is strong, powerful, and beautiful, regardless of it’s size.
❤ Remember that nobody else is as hard on yourself as you are. We are by far our own worst critics. If you find yourself obsessing about how you don’t like a physical characteristic (especially one that you have zero control over), know that the majority of people you come in contact with today probably won’t even think twice about it.
❤ Stay off social media. It’s a constant stream of people’s highlight. Filters and photo-altering tools are everywhere. Instead of looking at photos and videos of perfection on social media, spend time with real people. Yep, real-life people that you see face-to-face, that haven’t been harming themselves as they prepare for magazine cover shoots and don’t have flawlessly airbrushed skin. Have real conversations, laugh (laughing = instant happy pill!) and keep your phone in your bag.
❤ Practice self-care. Don’t let yourself go down the self-hate path. When you find yourself feeling the bad body vibes, find something else to occupy your mind and distract yourself with healthy coping mechanisms. Call a supportive friend, cuddle with a pet, pick up a good book, paint your nails, listen to your favorite song, color a picture, knit something, etc. Dig deep into that took box and find something to get blissfully lost in.
❤ Practice self-love. Instead of being mean to yourself, make the choice to practice self-compassion. Remind yourself of your ultimate goal to love and accept yourself. Instead of focusing on your flaws, tell yourself “I am a work in progress.” Repeat to yourself, “I was not put here to be perfect.” Over time you will begin to internalize this self-compassion and it will start to feel more natural.
❤ Remind yourself of how much more you are than a body: A scale measures your gravitational pull towards earth. That is all. You are so, so much more than a number. You are your ambitions, your bravery, your triumph over adversity. You are your dreams, your passions, your soul. You are a living, breathing miracle. You are you!
❤ Feelings are temporary. Approach it the same way that you might with any other kind of bad day: Remind yourself that a day is only 24 hours long, and tomorrow might be different. Accept what you have no control over, and then focus on what you can change about your outlook. Remind yourself that feelings are temporary, and this feeling will pass.
❤ Challenge your negative thoughts. Give that nagging voice the fleeting attention it so craves, and then remind it, “Even if that were true, I’d still be so worth loving.” Say, “Hey! That girl you’re bullying is my friend. She is pretty dang awesome!” You may not be able to change the way you feel about your body today, tomorrow, or a month from now, but you can begin the process by challenging the thoughts in the moment. Even if you don’t believe the things you say to counter the voice, it’s still important to speak out against it, because each time you argue with the thoughts, you are taking away some of their power and reclaiming your own. The more you challenge the thoughts, the less you will believe them. The more you argue back, the easier fighting the voice will become.
And if none of these work, and you still feel stuck…
❤ Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Let yourself be frustrated, mad, upset, depressed… for five minutes. It’s 100% ok to experience negative emotions – it’s what makes us human. Having said that, it’s not fun to feel crappy. If you were to take a sip of tea that was too hot and burned your tongue, you wouldn’t just keep chugging it down, right? Similarly, don’t make your misery last any longer than it needs to. Whether that means throwing a tantrum on the floor, venting to a friend on the phone, punching a pillow, screaming in your car, or crying in bed, you need to allow yourself to feel your feelings. Let go of the judgement you have about what you feel and recognize that you are feeling these things for a reason. Give yourself permission to release your emotions and let everything out — just don’t dwell on it for longer than five minutes.
Remember that everyone feels this way from time to time. You’re not alone! Coping with bad body image days may not be easy, but it is possible.
And now I’d like to know, what do YOU do when you have a beyond crummy bad body day? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
I’m looking forward to hearing them so I can put them in my pocket for next time. Because, y’know, there will be a next time.