Does this sound familiar?
It’s Saturday morning. You’re at home, un-showered in your pjs, scrolling through Instagram. You laugh at some cute baby pics and a cat video, and then comes what seems like an endless string of photos of people with ultra-toned bodies doing yoga on the beach, posing last night in their new outfit, or modeling while on vacation.
Suddenly, what was a cozy morning has turned into a sinking feeling inside like your body (and life) don’t measure up.
If you’re nodding your head, you’re not alone. Research shows that self-esteem is negatively impacted the longer you spend on social media.
We live in a very body-conscious society. There are comparisons everywhere if we choose to measure ourselves against them.
Issues with body confidence exist far beyond social media. Though these scrolling sessions certainly seem to highlight them.
As someone who’s been on a rollercoaster ride learning to love and accept my body, I can tell you there are healthy ways to go about building more confidence, or there are Band-Aid fixes that make things worse in the long run.
I’ve compiled some of the healthy ways that helped me and my clients build a healthier body image. If you’re looking for more, I teach a 2-month body-love course called Eats & Asana. Our next session is coming up soon, get on the waitlist now.
Healthy Ways to Build Body Confidence – so you can feel good about yourself from the inside out.
- Root your confidence in who you are, not how you look. When you recognize that there’s a lot more to love about you than just your body, there won’t be so much pressure to look perfect. You’ll be able to be social and have fun with confidence because you know that having your hair out of place doesn’t make or break who you are or how others see you.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Our bodies aren’t a competition. Even if they were, there’s no way anyone could “win” because we’re all so unique and different. Focus on yourself and what food, exercise and clothes work for you and let everyone else do their own thing. When you do find yourself comparing (we’re human, it happens) use it as an opportunity to be inspired by something you like, rather than feeling jealous and putting yourself or the other person down.
- Practice gratitude for your body. This goes deeper than appearance. Our bodies are walking miracles and we rarely stop to recognize that. Create a gratitude practice where you intentionally look for all the awesome things your body allows you to do (play sports, have a baby, help your friends, give hugs, heal, etc.). You’ll feel pretty awesome once you recognize all of the advantages your body affords you, most of which have nothing to do with how it looks.
- Meditate to calm your mind and connect with yourself. Strengthening the connection with yourself on the inside to focus less on your appearance. It will also help you build the mental muscles to direct your thoughts where you want them to go.
- Move your body in a way that feels good to you. There are so many ways to appreciate what your body can do, rather than how it looks. Find an activity you like (lifting weights, rock climbing, yoga) and focus on developing a skill with your body, instead of on manipulating its appearance through exercise. There’s a lot of freedom here and it will give you many more reasons to build your confidence.
- Stand up straight. Posture affects mood and reflects how you think about yourself. Lift your chin up, pull your shoulders back and feel the difference this instantly makes in your self-confidence.
- Talk to yourself like you’d talk to your best friend. Speaking to yourself with kindness and compassion is one of the quickest ways to build your confidence. You go from having an internal enemy to an internal ally. The effects of this are powerful.
- Make a list of things you love about your body. Start with the ones that come most naturally. Think about everything your body can do (even on the inside). Consider everything your body has helped you do in the past. This list will never be complete, keep adding to it over time.
- Spend less time on social media, and more time doing things that make you feel good.
- Talk about it/seek help. If you’re feeling consumed by thoughts about your weight, shape and appearance, talking with someone can help take some of the internal pressure off. Start by opening up to a friend or family member. You might eventually need to talk with a coach or counsellor who has the expertise to help you out.
- Eat well. Believe it or not the voice of internal criticism has good intentions. It gets louder when you’re not fueling yourself properly to warn you that you’re out of alignment. When you eat good quality, nourishing food that agrees with your body, this voice becomes quiet or it might even go away.
- Get rid of clothes that don’t fit and only shop for the size you are now. Using clothes as “motivation” works the opposite way you want it to. If you want to look and feel your best, wear clothes that make you feel confident right now, as you are. Don’t wait for a time in the future, when you can feel good about yourself today.
- Spend time with people who are kind to you and to themselves. Role models are everywhere. Find people who speak kindly about themselves. Witness their relationship with themselves and you’ll see that it’s ok to feel good about your body and to treat yourself with respect.
- Read books that help you build yourself up. This can be any type of book that makes you feel better than when you picked it up. Part of building confidence in your body is allowing yourself to feel the way you want to feel more often than not. Books are a great way to bring up those positive feelings.
- Put away magazines. Unfollow social accounts that make you feel icky. You are the guard at the gates of your mind. Choose wisely what you’ll allow inside.
- Avoid TV shows where characters talk down to themselves or diet to change their appearance. You don’t need any more role models on how to have unhealthy body image.
- Say nice things about yourself. Words are powerful and your body is always listening. This is one time to take the advice “say something nice or don’t say anything at all.” It will help you build the mental muscle of dismissing negative thoughts and planting positive ones instead.
A note on change
There are plenty of ways to get started building more confidence in your body. One thing to note is that self-improvement and self-love aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s ok to love yourself and to want change for how you look or feel in your body.
It’s important to make changes in healthy way, from a place of healthy motivation. Check in with yourself and your desire to make changes. If you can do things (like exercise, eat healthy meals, etc.) from a place of self-love, then go for it and your confidence and trust in yourself will grow. If you’re motivated because you don’t like the way you are right now, that’s a good indicator to use these body-confidence tips before trying to make changes.