7 DRESSES 4 HEALTH: Day 224 - Day 230 ~ August 12th - August 18th ~
Guest Blogger Bio: Jennifer is a licensed mental health therapist who works with adolescents. Her writing has been featured on Project Heal's Blog, ElephantJournal.com, and ThoughtCatalog.com. In her free time, she enjoys being active, practicing yoga, reading, and watching far too many TED talks. Jennifer is passionate about promoting body-positivity and the health at every size movement.
Title: 5 Ways to Make Peace with Your Body
Oprah Winfrey -- one of the most powerful women on the planet -- was interviewed by Diane Sawyer who asked Oprah an important question. Sawyer stated, "I want you to finish a sentence for me. Before I leave this earth I will not be satisfied until I..." Oprah replied, "Until I make peace with the whole weight thing." Oprah is a billionaire who has had tremendous success, and yet her answer to such a deep and soul-searching question was focused on her discomfort over her weight. I don't know about you, but I do not want to squander any of my precious moments on this earth ruminating about how I would feel better if there were "less of me."
As a mental health therapist and individual who has learned how to accept and appreciate my own body, the following are my tips for working towards body peace.
1. Accept The Thoughts That You Have About Your Body.
The first step in moving away from body hatred is beginning to work towards body acceptance. When you have negative thoughts about your body try saying to yourself "thank you mind for that thought," and then allow it to pass by. You do not have to believe everything that you think. Just because your mind is telling you negative and cruel things about your body, does not mean that these thoughts are a reality. Accept that everyone has negative thoughts to some degree and the less that you allow your negative thoughts to control your behavior, the quieter they will become.
2. Dig Deep and Uncover The Feelings Your Body-Loathing May Be Masking:
The next time you find yourself having a negative thought about your body, I would challenge you to think about what else might be bothering you. Often it is easier to focus on what we dislike about our outward appearance, than to focus on the other issues in our lives that the body-hatred may be masking. Journaling, drawing, talking to a friend, family member, or therapist, about the other things in your life that are causing you to feel stressed, angry, or sad, might help you to focus on where the feelings of body-hatred may be stemming from. Obsessing about our bodies and hurting them through over-exercise, binging, or starving, are coping strategies that we are using to try to escape from pain and uncomfortable emotions. These strategies do not work in the long term, as they only serve to mask our pain and numb us from experiencing it. However, when we numb ourselves from pain, we also prevent ourselves from experiencing happiness and joy.
3. Post Positive Affirmations on Your Mirrors.
Often the place where we experience the most body-hate is when we are looking at ourselves in front of a mirror. Try to add some positive messages to this space by putting post-it notes with words, quotes, and sayings that resonate with you. Some good examples could include the following, "Thankful for my health," "Body-positive role model," "I am enough," and "I am grateful for all my body allows me to do." If you are struggling to come up with positive affirmations, try thinking about if you had a daughter or a younger sister and the messages that you would want her to hear when she looks at her reflection.
4. Find an Activity That Helps You to Feel Connected to Your Body.
Whether it's taking walks with your dog in the sunshine, swimming in the ocean, or taking a gentle yoga class, finding an activity where you feeling grounded and connected to your body can be incredibly helpful when you are struggling with poor body image. Along that same vein, work to decrease behaviors or activities that you engage in which cause you to feel disconnected from your mind and body. Obsessive exercise, starvation, drinking in excess, using drugs, or self-harming, are examples of behaviors that can cause people to feel disconnected, numb, and out of touch with their bodies and their true selves.
5. Get Rid of Your Scale.
Earlier this year, I threw away my scale. I have no idea how much I weigh, and I cannot begin to tell you how much more free that I feel. Weighing yourself will never make you feel better about your body. When we try to seek validation and approval though numbers of calories burned or weight lost, we are boarding a sinking ship. It may feel scary to give up what many feel are the external measures of our health. However, getting rid of this external measure could help you to tune into how your body is actually feeling. Further, many studies have shown that a person's BMI is not an accurate measure of one's health or well-being. In addition, shifts in fluid and other variables can affect the number that is shown on the scale, often falsely causing people to think that they have suddenly "gained a few pounds." A number on a scale cannot tell you anything about your worth as a person, your values, or how beautiful you are to others.
Finally, know that you are certainly not alone in your struggle towards discovering body acceptance. Also, it likely did not take you a brief period of time to develop these negative thoughts about your body and it may take some time to attune to more positive ways of thinking. However, you were given this one life and this one body. It might be time to finally make peace with your body and appreciate all that it enables you to do.
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About 7 Dresses 4 Health (7D4H): 7D4H is a year-long arts and health education campaign lead by visual artist, Marian Brown, in conjunction with Arts Connect International. The objective of the campaign is to promote inclusive community practices through adDRESSing health artistically and collaboratively. To learn more about the genesis of the project, read Marian’s New Year Blog.
About this week's look & location: All of the dresses for 7 Dresses 4 Health were designed and sewn by Kim's Fashion Design. Love the look? Visit Kim at 100 Huntington Ave, Boston MA 02116, call her at (617) 267-9299 or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mention 7 Dresses 4 Health for a special discount!
Campaign Update (2017): All 7 Dresses 4 Health blogs were migrated from a former site, so the sharing analytics are inconsistent from when they were first published. We apologize to our guest bloggers, and readers, for this inconvenience. That said, the campaign garnered an average of 5K hits per blog, over 500,000 readers throughout 2015! Additionally, the average number of shares per guest blog was over 150x on social media (through Facebook and Twitter). Thank you for making this incredible campaign possible - and for all that it was for so many. With gratitude, Marian & the ACI Team