Can’t accept your body? That’s okay. Start with Body Appreciation.
Going from body hate to body acceptance is tough.
It can seem near impossible.
So where do we start if these concepts feel so far out of reach and accepting our body feels so far away?
Start by practicing body gratitude.
When hope feels a bit lost, we can start by working toward body appreciation. And nope, this ain’t easy either. Gratitude is a skill and acquiring a new skill will feel foreign and uncomfortable in the beginning…however, a gratitude practice is a solid start that can trigger continued growth in the body acceptance arena. With practice, over time, the skill will become stronger and body gratitude won’t continue to be so tough and uncomfortable.
The Science of Gratitude:
A little bit of gratitude each day goes a long way and just a little bit of gratitude can grow more gratitude and this build up of gratitude can do wonders. However, don’t take my word for it, let’s take a look at the science.
In one study, through keeping a weekly gratitude journal, participants showed a 5% increase in optimism.
In another study, keeping a daily gratitude journal resulted in a 15% increase in optimism.
Studies show that gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress.
Gratitude is strongly correlated with optimism. Gratitude in a certain area of life is correlated with optimism in that part of life. So can’t we also conclude that gratitude for our bodies is strongly correlated with increased optimism with our bodies?
Now that we have the science out of the way, let’s chat about something even better than science.
Although science is wonderful, nothing is better for understanding and believing than actually experiencing and seeing it for ourselves. But how do we start?
Let’s think about a time in your life when gratitude has proved to be beneficial for you. This can be a moment of gratitude in any area of your life.
Reflect back to a time in which you practiced gratitude. Close your eyes and pick a moment you felt grateful or to a time when you had an intentional gratitude practice. Do you have one? Okay, now think about how that gratitude affected that area of life? How did it affect the way you showed up in the world? How did it affect your mood, your thoughts, your actions? (think about this for a few minutes before moving on with this post)
So by this point, you may be thinking “Okay, Jamie. I see that gratitude is powerful and can see how it may be a good idea to apply that to my body. But how do I get started?”
Start with just 5 minutes a day. That is all you need.
Start by building awareness around your body thoughts through the prompts below.
Start practice rewiring to thoughts of gratitude.
Body Image Prompts:
What do I appreciate about what my body has done for me today? What do I appreciate about about what my body will allow me to do today? What does it allow me to do with my life? How does it help me live out my core values?
How can I celebrate my body today? What can I do in my body today that will bring me joy? (Lifting weights, walking with loved one, breathing, enjoying food with my friend, getting into my breath, knitting, painting, etc.)
What do I have the power to control today that is helpful and creates joy (that does not have to do with trying to control my body)?
Role-swapping: how would I react and what would I say to a friend who spoke to their body in the way I have today?
What affected my body image today in a negative way (stress, a mean comment, forgetting something, clothes not fitting, etc.) and how can I acknowledge the different factors (emotions, feelings, beliefs, experiences) that play into body bashing?
What experiences did I have recently that are associated with more positive body image days/moments (small or big)?
If I could wave a magic wand and I no longer struggled with your body image – what might be different in my life? What would I do differently?
How is hating/disrespecting my body serving me or not serving me?
For additional support and inspiration on your body gratitude journey, check out the resources below!