Do you love your body? Or frequently subject it to abuse? Find out why caring for your physical health is a vital part of self-love, and how to do it.
In the fourth lesson in our summer of self-love, Katie Phillips from Daring & Mighty explains why we need to learn to love our body, and shares six basic rules to help you take better care of it.
Your body deserves respect
A key part of self-love is loving and respecting your body. It’s a simple fact that you can’t enjoy good mental health without taking care of your physical health.
And aside from the fact that if your body feels good, you’ll feel good, it is literally the house you live in, and deserves respect and to be well-maintained.
How can you learn to love your body?
When I talk about loving your body, I’m not asking you to make friends with all the wobbly and bumpy bits you wish weren’t there – although being at peace with the way you look is certainly important.
Instead I’m urging you to take better care of it. To ensure it gets everything it needs to remain healthy and operate at its peak. (Because if your body is operating at its peak, so will you.)
With a healthy, well-cared for body you’ll have more energy to devote to your family and work, and you’ll also have more mental energy to handle everything life throws at you.
There’s also a very healing sense about respecting yourself enough to give your body the best. When we’re not feeling emotionally great, one of the first things we do is abuse our body – we drink too much, eat junk food, and lie awake all night worrying.
All this does is send us in a spiral of self-disregard. We dislike who we are and how we feel, and deprive ourselves of the very things we need to find a way out of the situation we’re in (energy, confidence and a clear head to think).
Six basic rules for caring for your body
Learning to get into the practice of loving your body (and reaping all the lovely energy and self-confidence rewards from it) is really quite easy. It just comes down to six basic rules.
1) Sleep well
Get a good night’s sleep every night. Most of us need around eight hours, so aim for that. If you have trouble sleeping, practise good sleep hygiene:
- Exercise in the day, but not in the evening.
- Keep your bedroom for sleep and sex, and ban TV and work from it.
- Don’t eat a large meal too late.
- Cut down on your caffeine consumption and don’t drink it in the evening.
- Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet.
2) Eat well
As time-poor as you may be, try to eat a healthy diet. Get plenty of fresh fruit and veg, and eat a balance of all the major food groups. Try to avoid too much processed food, and limit caffeine. Drink plenty of water! (You can get tips on how to eat your way to productivity here.)
3) Exercise regularly
If you are a member of a gym or love jogging every morning, fantastic. But you don’t need to be a health nut to feel the benefits of exercise. Find ways to get even just a modest amount of activity in your day and you’ll notice the benefits. Here are some easy ideas:
- Get off the bus, train or tube one stop early and walk.
- Park at the far end of the supermarket car park.
- Dance around the kitchen with your kids.
- Make a point of using the stairs at work, not the lift.
- Every lunchtime get away from your desk and go for a short walk.
- Even gardening and housework count as exercise!
4) Ditch bad habits
Have you got into the habit of having a cheeky glass of wine (or two) every night? Or still smoke? Make a pact with yourself that you’ll give your body a break ditch the bad habits.
If you find it tough, try visualising yourself in tricky situations (for example when you’re cooking dinner and automatically reach for the wine) and picturing you with a new, healthier habit. For example, drinking a glass of water.
While you may initially find that you’re consciously trying not to light up a cigarette or pour a drink, you’ll soon create a new pattern for your brain to follow, and after a while you’ll suddenly realise that you don’t even think about having drink or cigarette any more. (Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you give up drink altogether! Just keep it in moderation.)
5) Take a break
If you treat your body like a slave, it’s time to take a break! You’re not a robot, and won’t keep going incessantly without something giving. So make sure you stop regularly and just have a rest.
Find something you love doing – reading, cooking, shopping, massages… anything, and prioritise time every week to do them. You’ll find you feel much more rejuvenated and energetic as a result.
6) Stop worrying
Holding worries in and turning them over and over in your mind is not going to help you. It forces your body to remain in an unnatural state of stress which, long term can have a serious knock-on effect on your health.
So learn how to worry ‘effectively’ (you can learn how to do that here), focusing on actual problems you can fix, and not obsess over situations that are out of your control. If you often feel in a state of stress, you can also read stress-busting tips here.
Give your body the care it deserves
When you learn to love your physical self and give it the care it deserves, you’ll be living in a body that is the best version of you. And not only will you feel amazing and enjoy better mental health, but you’ll radiate vitality and confidence, and attract positive people and opportunities into your life.
So start today and develop a relationship with your body with deep compassion and grace.
Katie Phillips is the founder of Daring & Mighty, an organisation committed to sharing the importance of having a healthy, loving and conscious relationship with yourself.Katie Phillips