Body image from the inside out 9 May 2019 Advice Mental Health Awareness Week will take place from Monday 13 to Sunday 19 May this year. The theme is body image – how we think and feel about our bodies. Body image is how we think and feel about ourselves physically, and how we believe others see us. Is it really any wonder that we are all so critical of our bodies when there are billion pound industries built on the idea that your body is not really just for you, but for the judgement of others? Our relationships with our bodies don’t have to be based on how we think others see us from the outside. Nor do our relationships with our bodies have to be critical. Instead, we can choose to focus our attention on the experience of being in our bodies. Here are some ideas from Norwood’s Psychological Therapies team to help you improve your relationship with your body. Spoiler: none of them involve joining a gym or signing up for a triathlon. Phew! Take a moment and breathe. Life is busy, and we often forget to check in with ourselves. What happens when you stop for a minute and simply connect to your body? Do critical thoughts arise? Is your body tired? Listen to it without judgement. Simply giving some dedicated time to connecting to our body gives us a better understanding of our relationship with it. Body positive! Start thinking of some positive affirmations about your body. We can be so critical about our bodies… how they look, how we wish they would behave. Instead of heading straight to criticism, think of something you are grateful for. Perhaps singing along to your favourite song can help relieve stress? Or are you thankful for the wonderful sounds you can hear? Take time to recognise it. Meditate. A simple 10-minute practice can be enough to set you on the right path for the rest of the day. If sitting still and meditating doesn’t do it for you, why not try some yoga or mindful movement? Feel sensational! Improving your body image doesn’t have to focus solely on the physical. Become more aware of your senses. Tune into your eyes. What colours, shapes, and objects can you see? Tune into your nose. What smells are you aware of? Focusing on these sensations is a great way of being more aware of your body. Inhale. Exhale. If you listen, your body is subtly speaking to you all the time. We are often so busy going here, there and everywhere that we can be more nervous, stressed or exhausted than we realise. A great way to check in with your body is to set a timer for one minute and count your breaths. Again, no judgement – just see what’s there. Ground yourself. Send awareness to your feet. Do they feel firmly rooted to the ground or as if they are hovering? This exercise helps you move from thinking to sensation. This can really help if you are feeling particularly nervous or stressed. Why not try it now? Like anything, if you want to see change, you have to repeat and practise every day. You don’t need to make huge leaps every day – small incremental changes can have a huge impact. The main thing to remember is that you aren’t just a mind or just a body. You are one being. Your body can help your mind just as much as the mind can help the body, so treat them both kindly. You deserve it! Norwood has a multidisciplinary team of highly skilled and experienced professionals who are just a phone call away on 020 8809 8809.