Harness mindfulness to love your body. (Photo: Branislav Jovanović/Stocksy)
We all have our body-image issues — a little cellulite here, a curvy tummy there — which can leave us feeling less-than-stellar when we hit the beach or the pool. But why let feeling self-conscious ruin what is supposed to be a fun time?
WHY YOU NEED TO MAKE THE CHANGE
When you’re dressed in a tiny piece of spandex, it’s easy to feel overly aware of how you look. In fact, research shows even the mere thought of trying on bathing suits makes women more anxious and depressed.
But the truth is, you’re your own worst critic. “Because most of us look at ourselves daily in a mirror, we are more likely to notice ‘issues’ with our body that others will not,” Sarah Altman, PhD, a clinical psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Health.
The more you examine something under a microscope — your body, a new dress, a car, anything — the more likely you are to notice perceived flaws. And since we’re all checking out our own bodies on the regular, you don’t have to worry about others examining your every dimple and pound on the beach. “Most people are more preoccupied with their own bodies than critiquing yours,” she explains.
Altman says we’re also likely to discount compliments because of this unbalanced perspective, because we see every flaw. So, you can actually believe it when your significant other says you look great in your new bikini.
HOW TO DO IT
You can prep your body to feel slim by eating right before your beach or pool getaway. There are lots of habits that will bloat you, like chewing gum, overdoing it on the fiber, tipping back carbonated beverages, and opting for processed and sodium-heavy foods.
Also crucial is finding a bathing suit that actually feels good to you. “You will be less likely to feel self-conscious in something that feels good, versus a bathing suit that is uncomfortable, because your attention won’t be drawn to it,” Altman says. If you’re tugging at fabric, you’re going to be conscious of, ‘Hey, I am wearing a tiny swimsuit!’ — and thus, more conscious of supposed “body flaws.” Choose something with enough coverage that you’re comfortable — which is different for everyone. (So even if the suit is cute, if you feel iffy about wearing it in the dressing room, don’t force it. Select a different one.)
But beyond these tips, it truly is all about the mindset. Don’t think of your body as something to be gazed upon. Think about it as a vessel to do, accomplish, and live.
“You have to appreciate what your amazing body does for you,” Altman says. “Instead of noticing your ‘jiggly’ arms, be mindful all the things your arms do, such as writing, typing, driving, playing catch with your children, carrying grocery bags from the car, or giving strong hugs to your loved ones.”
So, when you think about it, cellulite is a small price to pay for legs that will help you run a marathon. “The more you appreciate your body, the more confident you will feel,” Altman says. So, go ahead. Embrace your body in all its glory. (It sort of rocks, doesn’t it?)
Finally! You Can… is a Yahoo Health series empowering you to achieve your wellness goals — once and for all.
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