Body Acceptance Exercise
October 7th, 2013; Posted in Emotional Eating & Body Image
Try This Body Image Exercise for Body Acceptance
I love this take on a traditional body acceptance exercise that Dr. Christiane Northrup shared with Jean Fain, author of The Self-Compassion Diet: A Step-by-Step Program to Lose Weight with Loving-Kindness in a recent interview. She suggests doing body image mirror work in candlelight.
The great thing about using candlelight rather than traditional light is that it creates a luminescent glow and softens your skin. Candlelight also feels more intimate and re-connecting with your body is a very intimate and vulnerable experience.
The body image exercise can be very emotional and powerful so try it during a time when you’re feeling more compassionate with yourself, not when you’re feeling tired, lonely, anxious, sad or vulnerable. If you have been avoiding the mirror for some time, start small.
It’s a good idea to start any type of body image exercise such as this with a relaxation exercise to help you let go of tension and relax your body. Here are instructions for a progressive muscle relaxation exercise.
Steps to the Body Acceptance Exercise:
2. In the candlelight, admire and caress your skin. You can choose to focus on a particular part of the body that you feel more comfortable with to start.
3. Be compassionate with yourself as uncomfortable feelings may come up such as all the reasons why you’re not lovable. Just focus on connecting with your body and find loving, kind, or compassionate thoughts or affirmations about the part of your body you are connecting with. Examples might include:
“My legs are strong and carry me everywhere I want to go.”
“My skin is radiant.”
4. Eventually work your way through your whole body and admire your body as a whole. As you admire your body in the candlelight focus on loving, kind, or compassionate thoughts about your whole body.
5. Be mindful that as you attempt this exercise, negative thoughts may start to pop up in your head. First of all, just notice them, thank them for sharing, and then shift your attention back to admiring your body and focusing on compassionate thoughts. Don’t get hooked by the negativity.
If the negativity is persistent, take a break to get in touch with what you are actually feeling. Try and identify the feelings behind your thoughts and get in touch with those feelings so you’ll know what hooked you. This practice is about re-connecting with your body, your feelings are a part of that.
For example, if you get hooked with, “I hate my thighs”, ask yourself, what am I feeling? Am I feeling sad, lonely, angry, or inadequate? Check further back, did something happen recently to make you feel this way? What thoughts might you be having about that situation? It’s usually quite difficult to identify feelings associated with automatic, negative body image thoughts. A therapist can help you work on this at a deeper level if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed.
Dr. Northrup shared this advice with Jean, “It’s never too late! The body is self-renewing. We turn over every cell in our body within seven years, but you can almost make over completely in three months. It begins with the story you tell yourself in your head.”
You can change the story in your head! Take time regularly to practice body acceptance by re-connecting with your body. Commit to working on a body image exercise regularly to make peace with and build love towards your hard-working body. Work on slowly replacing negative thinking with compassionate thinking and over time, you will begin to feel differently.
As part of our Make Peace With Food therapy group, we explore body image as well as our relationship to ourselves as a whole. Contact us if you’d like to find out more.
Contact one of our counselors for help on body acceptance. Our therapists in Houston are available for face to face sessions as online therapy sessions in limited areas.
To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
With The Self-Compassion Diet, this Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychotherapist prescribes a practical program for transforming the way you think and feel about food and your whole self–a shift that, paradoxically, inspires physical change.
The Body Image Workbook offers a comprehensive program to help you stop focusing on your perceived imperfections and start feeling more confident about the way you look.
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