When I first began taking really good care of my body (not the pretend self-care like eating “really healthy” aka. hardly anything at all or working out every day aka. overexercising like crazy), it felt quite uncomfortable to me.
How would I be able to take care of my body in a way that was actually nurturing instead of destructive? Could I be kind and loving to myself instead of feeling hateful and ashamed? Would I ever feel at home in my body and truly at peace with myself when all I wanted was to be someone I was not?
I didn’t know the answers but I knew that I needed self-care big time. I was drowning in my unhealthy behaviors and knew turning my view of self-care was essential for my body image and becoming my own person. So, slowly, step by step, I dipped my toes into the practice of self-care. And with it, my body and mind began to recover from an almost life-long battle with food and my body.
Here are 5 steps to incorporating self-care into your life.
The first step toward self-care I took was commit to it.
Really, really commit to it.
I made a promise to myself to do what it takes to take care of ME.
Now, to be totally transparent, I had to renew this promise many times as I slipped and fell. But with each renewal, my resolve grew. So, commit to your healing, commit to your self-care, commit to your life.
Don’t be afraid of touching your body. When we feel big and too much, we have no idea where our boundaries are. The more we touch, the more we’ll know where we begin and where we stop.
This creates the awareness we lack when our body image is distorted. On top of it, it also helps to cultivate that relationship with your body that you need in order to live in partnership with it. You can’t continue to live in your head, but must drop into the body more and more. Touch and awareness will do that for you.
Part of my self-care practice was to let go of many things, dreams, and people in order to gain life, energy and joy.
I let go of toxic friends who were constantly talking about diets and weight loss. I let go of Facebook pages because of the constant bombardment with ‘healthy’ practices. I let go of a few TV shows because they hurt my self-image too much.
Over time, I began to say goodbye to the dream of being a certain size. I began to see that I couldn’t continue to control my body’s exact weight if I wanted to live a full life. Part of this process was giving away my “skinny clothes”, which was so scary at first. but then gave me the freedom to not give a darn about the clothes I used to wear and instead pick jeans and shirts that were my actual size.
Letting go, saying goodbye, and de-cluttering is a big process on the way to cultivating a rock-solid and life-affirming self-care practice.
If you do it consciously and courageously, you’ll take huge leaps forward.
Using your senses
Walk barefoot and feel the blades of grass touch your feet. Use essential oils. Feel the rain or the sun kiss your skin. Massage your hands when you’re at work. Stretch when you get out of bed. Close your eyes and listen to the world’s sounds. The possibilities are endless here. By using your senses, you drop into your body, which grounds you when you feel flighty and anxious.
That is probably the biggest, most scary self-care practice I started and still commit to. Brutal honesty with myself. I lied so much when I was caught in the traps of my eating disorder. I lied and cheated and lied some more. To myself, to others, to everyone who threatened to take away my thinness, my sickness, my obsession.
And even when I began to recover so many years ago, I still lied.
I lied when I was hungry but not eating, I lied when I was secretly working out and I hurt nobody as much as I hurt myself with these lies.
Lying feels so easy, doesn’t it? But admitting and telling the truth is hard. However, the moment I was really honest with myself things began to shift. I got help, I accepted support, I began to see that I had to change my ways but that I didn’t have to face this struggle alone.
Honesty is a profound practice that uplifts your life and takes away the shame and fear we often feel.
My journey to cultivating a positive body image is not over yet. As a Martha Beck Life Coach, I learned to use my body as a compass for walking towards my North Star. That way, my body guides me in making life’s decisions, a level of self-care I never couldn’t dream about when I was struggling with my eating disorder.
Here’s the most important lesson I learned while cultivating self-care and choosing life: