Here’s what you should do before you wrap a towel around your body. (Photo: Getty Images)
Does this sound familiar? The second you get out of the shower you immediately wrap a towel around your body before risking catching a glimpse of exposed flesh. If so, experts say you’re missing out on an important self-esteem booster.
Checking yourself out in the buff “desensitizes you to being so negative about your body,” clinical psychologist and body image expert Amy L. Flowers, PhD, tells Yahoo Health. “It normalizes the experience.”
It makes sense to do it — the mirror is usually right there — but most of us strain to avoid looking at our naked bodies.
Psychologist and body image expert Sari Shepphird, PhD, says there are two main reasons for that:
We tend to zero in on our flaws instead of our assets.
We naturally compare ourselves with others.
“We’re kind of trained in our society to think about the ways we can improve upon ourselves,” she says. “But the more we focus on our flaws, the more they’re magnified — and then we’re going to want to avoid looking at our bodies in general.”
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The comparison instinct is also an issue, Shepphird says, because our minds naturally tend to go to the societal standards of perfection. And if you don’t look like a swimsuit model (because few people do), you feel as if you just don’t measure up physically.
Enter the mirror trick. To do it (and do it in a positive way), Shepphird recommends looking at yourself and naming five things you’re grateful for about your body or five things you like about your body on that day. It can be as small as liking the way your toenails are painted. Then, go about your usual post-shower routine. It seems minor, but it “can be very transformational,” Shepphird says.
Related: It Took Me 59 Years To Love My Body
If you struggle to come up with positive thoughts, Flowers recommends trying to remember any compliments or positive comments you’ve received about how you look. If you still don’t like what you see, you can also remind yourself that you’ve been exercising and eating healthy lately — both of which are good for your body.
Suffer from mirror anxiety? Start slow. Shepphird recommends trying the mirror trick once a week and building up to the point where you’re comfortable looking at yourself every day. Eventually, you won’t need to list out what you like about your body — you’ll just be more positive about it naturally.
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Body-Peace Resolution is Yahoo Health’s January initiative to motivate you to pursue wellness goals that are not vanity-driven, but that strive for more meaningful outcomes. We’re talking strength, mental fitness, self-acceptance — true and total body peace. Our big hope: This month of resolutions will inspire a body-peace revolution. Want to join us? Start by sharing your own body-positive moments on social media using the hashtag #bodypeaceresolution