How to take care of your body
It’s a common practice in today’s delicately body-obsessed society to tell women that they are beautiful or deserving of self-love just the way they look. In a world that increasingly attacks body-shaming of women and turns to tell women “no, you are beautiful!” some psychologists have sought to test the efficacy of this practice.
Renee Engein is one such psychologist who sought to answer this question and discovered that reminding women that they are beautiful lacks substance or efficacy in really empowering the said woman is feeling better. Rather, Renee conducted a study in which women participated in writing exercises that offered “different frameworks for thinking about one’s body — frameworks based on showing kindness and gratitude toward your body, even if you find it imperfect or disappointing.” In this study, women were assigned various writing tasks, some of which included self-compassion and gratitude while others simply wrote neutral responses and served as the study’s control. One of the self-compassion letters used in this study prompted women to write a letter to themselves from the perspective of an unconditionally loving imaginary friend. Women in this group left feeling more positive and feeling better about the way they looked. A similar group was tasked to write about all the ways in which the body functions to successfully perform daily tasks. One woman, for example, thanked her hands for permitting her the ability to paint. Rather than focus on her imperfections, this woman thanked her body for its contribution in allowing her to lead a life that brings her happiness and joy. Like the group before it, women left feeling more appreciative, grateful, and more loving towards their body.
The next time you want to take care of your body, forget social media or television screens that harken to body sizes, products that cover and conceal, or advertisements that beg for your consumption. Instead, consider equipping yourself with pen and paper: write how your body serves you, or from the perspective of an unconditional love. Show kindness to your body; I promise it will show it back.
Justin writes about ways to optimize your health and well-being by cultivating resiliency and self-compassion through sustainable movement and exercise habits that lift you and those around you up..