HOW TO: LOVE YOUR BODY
SUCCESS IS… CONNECTING MIND, BODY & SPIRIT
BYOS is a unique and innovative platform that has been telling the story of success since 2010.
With the launch of the New Success Collection we are partnering with Jigsaw -The National Youth Mental Health Centre to raise awareness about the emotional struggles of young people globally. We have created a Digital Guide to Mental Well being. HOW TO: CONNECTING MIND, BODY & SPIRIT promotes self-care, emotional intelligence and mental well being.
The rate at which young people are experiencing mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety and stress is increasing. The age at which these negative emotions manifest is also getting younger, concentrated at 12-25 years old. Our online platform focuses on addressing the negative effects of growing up in our hyper-connected world, and promoting positive thinking and living.
We have added pops of colour to the little bar of strength. There are 9 different colours to highlight individual traits, feelings and ideas around success and strength. The new success bar features pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple, red, green, black, gray. They are worn by BYOS supporters sharing stories of their own struggles with body image, confidence, emotional strength, illness, balance and spirituality as they work towards their journey to success.
The first part in our Connecting Mind. Body. Spirit series is How To: Love Your Body
‘Sinead has always tried to live differently from the standards that Social Media set. She is now finally embracing her body for what it naturally is. Unfortunately, many young people struggle to fight this battle everyday.’
We are sharing Sinead’s story to highlight the challenges around connecting with our bodies and loving our bodies, which is made difficult by the constant bombardment of (unrealistic) pictures of perfect bodies on social media. Sinead wears pink to represent sexuality.
Perhaps the biggest emotional issue associated with being connected on social media is comparison. We are constantly comparing ourselves to other users on social media.
This week we focus on reducing negative feelings and thoughts about our bodies by practicing self-care and self-compassion.
The saying goes, ‘comparison is the thief of joy’. Comparison also kills intimate connection– while we are busy comparing our bodies to countless perfect (photo-shopped) celebrity and fitness influencers’ bodies, we are depriving ourselves of time that should be spent directly engaging with our own bodies.
GETTING UNDER YOUR OWN SKIN:
Most of us know the frustration of trying to get someone’s attention when they have their head buried in their phone or laptop. Worse still when it is a lover or partner whose physical attention we crave, but they are not in the moment. Instead they are stuck in the endless cycle of social media scrolling. We can all imagine how annoying this distracted behaviour would be. That is the exact same way we often interact with our own bodies. Our bodies are competing with our social media obsession for our attention and affection.
I too am guilty of this. My phone is my ultimate distraction and I somehow manage to complete most tasks while tinkering with it. I use my phone when I’m eating, I use my phone in the shower, I use my phone when I’m walking, I even use use my phone when I’m talking to other people.
We know the in and outs of our phones, so we can afford to put in down for a brief moment during our day, and instead get to know our bodies better.
Self care can be simple. All we need to do is change the way we engage with our bodies, by eliminating distraction: our phones/tablets/computers etc.
There are many ways we can care for our bodies. Here are 5 simple ways I find help me spend one-on-one time with my body.
- Set out a ‘Me-Time’ period on your e-calendar. Take 30 mins to an hour everyday to do something to soothe and/or revitalize the body.
- Take a nap in a dark room. Leave your phone in your bag. Put it on flight mode (that way you still get calls, texts and your wake-up alarm still works)because you’ll definitely be tempted to use it.
- Listen to a song or playlist that makes you feel special and excited. Jump around and dance to it. Or just nod along with a smile on your face and your eyes closed. Either way your facial and bodily movements, along with the music will stimulate your brain to produce endorphins i.e. happy hormones!
- Move your body for 30 mins/ an hour a day. Do some yoga, go for a brisk walk, jog or hike by yourself, with your dog or with a friend (leave your phone behind!). Pay attention to the way your body moves. Take note of how each muscle is activated by the rhythmic movements. Ask yourself which muscle is working the hardest? At which part of your movement does your heart rate increase the most or the least? Pay attention to your body and the way it changes to accommodate the sudden spike in adrenaline. At the end of your movement, go back to the parts of your body you noted the most stress and tension building up in. Massage those parts firmly for 5 to 10 mins. Rubbing the pressure points on your shoulders, inner elbow, pelvis and inner part of your knees in gentle circular motions. Then shake out your limbs and stretch according to your own preference.
- Arrange a spa day/night. Gather your massage oils, face masks, lotions, body butter, bath bombs and whatever other indulgent products you have. Take your time to apply these soothing ointments to your skin, from head to toe. Get in the bath or shower and really work your fingers into your skin. Noticing all the dips, spots, freckles, skin tags, marks, scars and whatever else you may or may not like about the way your body looks. Don’t comment on them. Just acknowledge that they are there, along with all the other parts that make up your body. Along with your limbs, organs, blood and bones– all making up the whole functioning organism that you are.
These are just a few basic ways to get to know your body through movement and direct skin-on-skin contact to stimulate our body. Whether it’s going into nature, preparing a healthy comfort meal or setting time aside to pray and meditate, it is vital to start getting under your own skin. Learn what triggers your pressure and pleasure points. Learn how to balance them both. Learn what your body loves and it will thank you for it. Learn to love your body through positive actions.
ACCEPTING THAT THE ONLY CONSTANT IS CHANGE:
Accepting our body the way it is, because of its functionality, what it represents for our identity is important. But is also important to choose to improve our body out of love for ourselves, for our health and emotional well being rather than out of self-hatred or social pressure to look a certain way.
In order to start letting go of our need to be perfect, we must first accept that the only constant thing in life is change. Our bodies will change with time. So we may as well focus on being healthy and well, rather than on size, weight or shape. Social media is controlled by trends. Even if the way we look now doesn’t fit current beauty trends, in the next few weeks, months or years our figures may become the very body type being idealized, celebrated and longed for by millions of people. That being said, it is important to not base one’s self-esteem on social trends precisely because they are fickle and are affected by cultural and socioeconomic factors often out of our control.
The thing we CAN control however is how we feel about our bodies. It is up to US to celebrate our bodies. Whether by staging personal or professional photo-shoots with ourselves, friends or organisations and sharing the photos online with positive messages to encourage self love. Or by engaging in physical activities to simulate our bodies and to highlight the positive things our bodies can do for us.
These activities can range from yoga, dancing, running, mindful walking, mindful breathing, chanting, singing, massages etc. The list is endless and rightly so because our bodies do a great deal for us. We need to acknowledge this fact and appreciate our bodies for all the ways it serves us rather than beating ourselves up for our perceived imperfections. By practising self-care regularly, we can stop engaging in harmful thinking and actions to punish ourselves for not living up to ‘perfection’. And instead start loving our bodies for keeping us alive, making us who we are, and for carrying us along in our journey to success!