Our Bodies & The Holidays: 3 Tips for Greater Self-Acceptance
The lens through which we view ourselves, and our bodies, is often impacted by the voices that surround us – friends, family, media. We often internalize the things said about our bodies so that another person’s voice then becomes our own. Someone else’s expectations of our body become rules and standards that we start to enforce for ourselves, and we begin to live our embodied lives for the aesthetic benefit of someone else – further leading us into body obsession, difficulty eating, and persistent self-criticism.
How do we stop digging deeper into a hole of self-hatred and climb to a place of increasing self-acceptance? Take a moment – pause – take a deep breath. These thoughts and feelings about our bodies are also held and known by our bodies. Ok, now that we’ve taken a breath, I want you to consider something for a moment – what if you accepted your body as it is right now? All of its intricacies, details, vulnerabilities. What if you offered this body kindness? What if you befriended your body instead of fighting it?
I know this idea may seem foreign, uncomfortable, or weird – primarily because after enforcing strict and critical standards for our bodies, it becomes a thought pattern and habit. Our mind likes patterns and holding on to them for dear life, but the truth of the matter is that we can shift these patterns. We can feel that discomfort of offering ourselves acceptance. We can sit with that discomfort, and still offer ourselves acceptance. It may feel odd the first few times, but gradually we may begin to notice the beauty and uniqueness present in our embodied self. We may start to soak in the love that we offer ourselves.
I want to suggest 3 ways you can offer yourself body acceptance during this holiday season. Acceptance is especially important during the holiday season – where food is ever-present, family members’ verbal filters fly out the door, and past voices and perspectives surround us.
- Affirm yourself in the mirror
Instead of checking your body in the mirror and letting your inner script of self-critical thoughts run rampant, take a moment to be mindful. Breathe, become in touch with your senses, really look at yourself, and give yourself an affirmation. Offer yourself kindness in the form of an intentional affirming statement.
“I am enough as I am right now.”
“My body is on my side.”
“I am beautiful in this very moment.”
“My body is ever-changing and I am still ok.”
- Set boundaries with loved ones
Societal voices are especially loud during the holiday season. Ad-campaigns want you to feel insufficient so that their product can fill that void. Family and friends often comment on weight or looks during this time of year. Set boundaries with these negative voices to protect yourself from messages that only hurt you.
Tell your family – “My body is not a topic of discussion.”
Let friends know – “I feel uncomfortable when you shame other people’s bodies as a joke.”
Limit media consumption – Turn Ads on Mute, Un-follow negative voices on social media.
You are allowed to set boundaries with others based on your own needs.
- Listen to your body
Oftentimes when we are critical and rigid about our bodies, we begin to get out of touch with the feelings and messages our body sends us. Becoming in touch with our hunger and fullness cues and our body’s needs and desires helps unite our body and mind, allowing us to befriend our body. Take time to meditate. Pause to breathe deeply. Allow yourself to notice and be mindful of bodily sensations, even if they are uncomfortable. Sit with them, and ground yourself in the present moment knowing that the more we allow our bodies and minds to connect, the greater capacity we have for healing.
All of these tips require intention and effort. Acknowledge yourself for small steps taken along the way. Don’t let self-acceptance become another thing you must complete “perfectly,” but allow yourself to compassionately grow in this area through gradually incorporating these tools for self-acceptance.
Here are a few books I recommend for further reading on this topic:
- The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
- Beautiful You by Rosie Molinary
- Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon