How we start our days can often make or break our mood. I think the same is true for body image. Here are 10 simple ways to start the day on a positive note that either directly or indirectly boost your body image.
1. Move your body. This isn’t about punishing your body into weight-loss submission or purging it of last night’s calories. This is about engaging your mind and body in pleasurable movement. About getting those feel-good endorphins circulating through your bones.
My grandma used to do a variety of stretches every morning…for years! Even when she was stricken with cancer (for many years), she still remained committed to her morning routine, which I know made her feel alive.
When I’m not active for a while, whether that’s practicing Pilates, walking or riding my bike, I start to feel lethargic and depressed and the negative thoughts start swirling. My mind begins to race, and my body image can plummet. Maybe you feel the same way.
So start the day off with your favorite physical activity, whether that’s stretching, taking a yoga class, taking a walk around the block or dancing to your fave music as you get ready for work. Whatever movement makes you feel alive, calm and happy, do that.
2. Savor your breakfast using your senses. You guys know by now that I’m a big fan of mindfulness. Not only does it help us slow down and smell the roses, but it’s also soothing and puts life into perspective. When eating your breakfast, pay attention. What does the food taste like? Smell like? What’s the texture like?
And remember that it doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving for you to give thanks for the food on your table. You can simply acknowledge that you feel blessed to enjoy this meal.
3. Marvel at your surroundings. According to authors Jeffrey Brantley, MD, and Wendy Millstine, NC, in their book Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices to Help You Stay Calm & Focused All Day Long: “Nature is bountiful and plentiful, and yet we often forget to take notice of nature’s simple gifts of joy and serenity…When you take this time to open your senses to the pleasures of what is just outside your door, you open your mind and body to nature’s restorative power to soothe and heal you.” They suggest taking five minutes to:
- “Stop and smell the roses.
- Notice the flight of the bumblebee.
- Listen to the rustle of the wind through the trees.
- Take in the majestic beauty of the mountain range.
- Smell the salty scent of the sea air.”
4. Journal. Sometimes, when our thoughts and feelings remain unexpressed or bound by the walls of our brains, we take it out on our bodies. Suddenly the frustration and anxiety we had over a conflict with our spouse or friend gets projected onto our big thighs or ugly nose.
Or you might start journaling by simply asking yourself: How do I feel this morning? What did I dream about? What’s on my mind? Or you can write a short list of what you’re thankful for that morning.
5. Thank your body for one thing. It can be anything from “thanks for helping me get up this morning, even though it was super hard” to “thanks for taking me through those five-minute stretches that have really helped to clear my mind” to “thank you for carrying me, day in and day out.”
6. Look in the mirror. Begin by taking several long, slow breaths. According to Dr. Brantley and Millstine:
“Open your eyes and look at yourself in the mirror. Just look without judgement or self-talk. Acknowledge your physical form completely. Reflect how your body supports you in this life. Look more deeply. With kindness and compassion, notice your emotional life-fears, hopes, dreams-without judgment. Look again. Acknowledge a source of inspiration, wonder, beauty, mystery or surprise within you – with gratitude.”
7. Read something inspirational. Our perspective colors our days, no doubt about it. Reading positive, uplifting words can put us in a positive frame of mind, which is one of the best things we can do for ourselves to start the day.
8. Do one activity that’s guaranteed to boost your body image. I bet that by now, from reading this blog and others, you’ve probably found a favorite body image tip that seems to work every time. Try it first thing in the morning. If you haven’t found one yet, have fun experimenting. Here’s an entire category devoted to boosters you can try.
9. Breathe and visualize a beautiful place. This is another great tip from Dr. Brantley and Millstine (just reading it will soothe you!):
“Sitting or lying down, place your hand on your abdomen and inhale and exhale, deeply and slowly. Visualize a meadow with a small creek running through it. You are wading in a babbling brook, and you can hear the wind and the birds overhead. The current tugs gently at your ankles. Recognize the rhythm of your breathing. As you inhale, say the word ‘warm’ aloud. Imagine the warmth of the sun and water around your body. As you exhale, say the word ‘heavy’ to yourself. Allow yourself to reach a comfortable and soothing place from within.”
10. Take a shower, apply lotion, put on lip gloss, etc. These are all small self-care activities that go a long way in helping you feel better about yourself. One of the aspects of having a positive body image is taking good care of yourself, and the small stuff counts! I know that in the morning we tend to feel rushed but these self-care gestures only take a few minutes. You can even make a list of small self-care activities that make a big difference for you, and add those to your morning routine.
What’s your morning routine? What helps you improve your body image in the a.m.?
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Last reviewed: 1 Dec 2011