‘I know better than to waste precious energy on criticising my physical self'(Picture: PA/Getty)
Body confidence is something most people struggle with at some point in their life.
Mainly because our bodies change as we age and go through different stages of life.
Whether it’s puberty, losing our teenage metabolism, having babies, or simply getting older – various things can impact the way we look, which can have a knock-on effect on our body image.
This is something Kate Winslet recently spoke about, after filming her latest project topless and out of her comfort zone.
In her recent Vogue interview, she said: ‘I had to be really f*cking brave about letting my body be its softest version of itself and not hiding from that.
‘I know better than to waste precious energy on criticising my physical self.’
As Kate has stressed recently, and has for many years, learning to love our bodies is vital.
This is ultimately because body dissatisfaction can damage self-esteem and can even be linked to other mental health problems such as depression and anxiety – in both men and women.
So, how can we go about building better relationships with our bodies and accepting them as a result?
Experts have shared some ways we can show ourselves a little more love.
Identify the cause
Experts share how to build a better relationship with your body (Picture: Getty)
‘There are multiple reasons why some people have problems with their bodies. These can include a combination of past traumatic experiences, internalised judgement, comparing themselves to other people or other personal issues,’ says Dr Lucia Berdondini, a psychologist from the University of East London.
Dr Lucia explains that to build a better relationship, we need to first identify what specifically makes us unhappy.
She adds: ‘By becoming more self-aware of what we like and dislike about our bodies, we can identify what we have the power to change – and start the mental or physical work required to improve our own feelings on how we look.’
Focus on health and balance – not perfection
In order to develop a relationship with our body that’s loving and accepting, we need to turn our attention to health and balance – rather than perfection.
Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic explains: ‘We can do this by turning our focus to all the amazing things our body does for us every day (every minute, in fact!).
‘But we can also do this by doing things that we know are good for us – like eating healthy nutritious foods, exercising regularly and getting plenty of sleep.
‘Instead of focusing on what our body looks like, we can turn our attention to taking care of it and how it feels.’
There’s real power in a positive mindset.
Jade Thomas, a psychologist in doctoral training at Private Therapy Clinic, says: ‘A good place to start when it comes to building a positive relationship with your body image is by showing some appreciation through positive self-talk.
‘Recognise the internal conversations you are having with yourself, is this conversation positive or negative?’
If you feel yourself getting negative, be sure to nip it in the bud and try to think more positively – until it becomes a habit.
Praise your body’s functionality
Our bodies do incredible things every day. So it’s important not to lose sight of this.
Jade adds: ‘Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of your body, try to reframe those thoughts by recognising either parts of your body that you do like or, if this is too difficult, try recognising the amazing functions of your body and what it does for you every day.
‘These small changes in your thinking can eventually lead to bigger changes in your overall views of your body and yourself.’
Build up those endorphins
Exercise is releasing endorphins (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
It’s also a good idea to do things that will make you feel good about your body and yourself in general – this really will go a long way.
Jade continues: ‘Remember that life is much more than what is on the outside, it’s about how we feel from within.
‘Research has shown that exercise, yoga and helping others are great self-esteem boosters.’
‘Comparison really is the thief of joy, remind yourself of this when you notice your thoughts wandering towards comparing yourself to others,’ Jade adds.
All our bodies are completely different – so there’s no point even trying to compare. It will just make us miserable.
Jade suggests: ‘Reflect and ask yourself: Do I want to remove my joy? Why do I want to mark someone else as better or worse than me based on their appearance? What am I getting from comparing myself?
‘Asking yourself these difficult questions can challenge your thoughts and transform your thinking patterns.’
It’s also important not to ignore the problem – instead acknowledge how you’re feeling and think about how to address it.
In fact, avoidance can make things like anxiety worse.
Jade says: ‘Avoiding mirrors or ignoring the negative thoughts won’t make them go away.
‘Although it might seem difficult at first, notice those negative thoughts that come to mind when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, and apply positive strategies (self-talk/building endorphins/stopping comparison) to try and alter your mindset.
‘For further support with changing negative thoughts or challenging thoughts relating to body image, you can also try cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with a trained CBT therapist.’
Get professional help
If you’re still struggling with body image or body confidence issues, it might be worth turning to a professional for help.
Lucia adds: ‘If these methods are unable to help someone build a better relationship with their body, then it may also be worth approaching a therapist or coach who can develop wellbeing plans to help them accept the way they look and identify the areas that they can improve.’
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