A few days ago, I was writing a piece on body appreciation for Psych Central. I shared activities from a helpful book called Five Good Minutes in Your Body: 100 Mindful Practices to Help You Accept Yourself & Feel At Home in Your Body by Jeffrey Brantley, M.D., and Wendy Millstine, N.C.
One of their tips is to take a media break. That made me think about how easy it is to spend many minutes or even hours reading women’s magazines and doing other things that damage our body image — including, but not limited to: weighing ourselves, reading diet books, watching shows like The Biggest Loser, and even browsing Facebook. Which can turn into an “everyone is better than me” and “I wish I were thinner, prettier, and …” moment (minute or hour).
It’s amazing to consider all the different things we could be doing instead of worrying about our weight, instead of tearing ourselves down. Even if it’s cleaning the house, it’s better than doing something that chips away at our self-image.
We might not realize it, but we’re deeply influenced by the words we read and the images we see. All these negative influences can leech onto our brains and drive the negative thoughts about our bodies and ourselves.
So, today, let’s talk about the many things we can do instead of spending time on body image stealers (whatever that might be for you). These activities can take a few minutes to a few hours, depending on how much time you have.
1. Read an uplifting book curled up on your couch.
4. Catch up with a close friend.
5. Research something you’ve always wanted to know more about.
7. Take a walk, and take pictures of everything you see: flowers, trees, the sky, the sun (or moon), your feet doing the amazing task of walking (it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work from our bodies to do just that!).
9. Write a poem.
10. Ride your bike.
11. Take the time to cook a nourishing meal for yourself.
13. Go to bed early.
14. Take a 20-minute nap. (Research shows that 10- to 30-minute naps can boost performance and alertness.)
16. Learn more about creativity, and consider where you want to channel yours.
17. Listen to your fave music.
18. Practice mindfulness.
19. Watch a funny movie.
20. Think about a goal you’d like to accomplish.
21. Go to the beach or park.
22. Make a list of your own body image stealers and what you’ll do about them.
23. Read a blog that inspires you or makes you feel great. (One of my faves is Susannah Conway.)
24. Organize something (your desk, a stack of bills, your bedroom).
25. Look through family photos.
26. Do laundry.
27. Check out an art exhibit.
28. Find an organization to volunteer for.
29. Stare at the wall. No really. How often do we give ourselves a true break to sit in silence and gather our thoughts?
30. Try a new physical activity, such as Pilates, Zumba or hula-hooping.
31. Try a new recipe. (I’ve already tried several recipes from Jenna at Eat Live Run, which have been easy and yummy. And I’m a total novice!)
32. Write a thank-you card to a loved one.
33. Pet your pet or walk your dog.
34. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.
35. Take a family picture.
36. Take a self-portrait.
37. Shop in your own closet — and create outfits you love.
38. Play tennis, golf or enjoy another sport.
39. Watch inspiring TED talks like this one.
40. Wash your face, apply a mask, slather your skin in lotion — pretend you’re at a spa, and really pamper yourself.
42. Consider one thing that’s stressing you out and how you can fix it or cope with it.
43. Sit outside, breathe in the incredible air, and get lost in a good book.
44. Pause and figure out how you’re feeling — then think about what you need right now.
45. Browse your favorite bookstore or book website for a new title or journal. (I love book and journal shopping!)
46. Search for inspiring quotes, and write them in your journal. (That’s what I’ve been doing here.)
47. Do something that always makes you feel great.
48. Not sure what that is? Think about it for a few minutes, and do it!
49. Recycle your stack of women’s magazines, diet books and any other reading material that makes you feel like crap.
50. Wrap your arms around yourself and repeat after me, “I deserve to love my body at any shape, size or weight. I deserve genuine respect and love always. I deserve to appreciate and love myself.” Follow up with, “I’m pretty awesome.” 🙂
What would you add to the list? What activities make you feel great? What are your body image stealers, and how will you replace them?