Updated: May 4, 2020
When the world around you feels unpredictable and unknown it's easy to turn towards your body and food as objects to be controlled.
As humans, we're wired to seek safety, predictability, and power.
If managing your food and your body have been coping mechanisms for you in the past, don’t be alarmed if they resurface in full force right now.
But here's what I believe:
Your body has an innate drive toward health.
And that means no matter how rattled or thrown off we get during this season, our body is constantly working for us rather than against us.
This can be hard to remember on nights when guilt is overwhelming or we look in the mirror and hate what we see.
But there's nothing you can eat or any weight you can gain that will prevent your body from seeking health. And this pandemic is no threat to that.
Despite that, loving your body is hard work. It's natural for any struggles you have to be flared right now. So here are my top 10 tips for navigating body image during quarantine.
1. Give yourself PERMISSION to fumble.
The most important thing you can do for yourself right now is to have grace with your journey and process.
Have grace for your body. For your relationship with food. For your emotional distress. For your irritability or impulsive decisions.
Whatever feels hard right now... allow it to be hard. And give yourself permission to struggle without blame and shame.
You might gain or lose weight during quarantine.
You might rely on comfort foods for support more than normal.
You might battle depression or heightened anxiety as a result to so many changes and unknowns.
And rather than beating yourself up... try offering yourself permission and acceptance.
Give yourself permission to get messy. To experiment. You're navigating unknown territory and we're ALL taking it day by day.
2. Load up on self-care
I can't emphasize this enough.
If self-care was medicine, you need to be upping your dosage AND strength right now.
Rather than thinking of self-care as a list of activities to engage in, I encourage you to ask yourself:
"How am I doing?"
"How is my heart?"
"What do I need - right now, this week, in this chapter of my life?"
And then make adjustments, set priorities, change your pace, and DO WHATEVER YOU NEED TO DO to make self-care a lifestyle right now.
Take the time to figure out what would be best for you rather than what's promoted on Instagram or Pinterest.
Get curious about your current needs and desires.
Get curious about what areas of your life feel balanced and which don't.
THEN take the steps you need to take so your life:
Doesn't overwhelm you
Nourishes your heart
Strengthens your body
Feeds your soul
Challenges your mind
Allows you to rest
Uplifts your spirit
3. Be mindful of mirrors
Consider this: If you were going to work, as usual, sitting at a desk or walking around a work building, you're not encountering mirrors left and right. But chances are your house has a lot of mirrors in it and you're encountering your reflection more than normal.
If negative thoughts and criticisms arise when you see your reflection, make a point to spend less time around mirrors.
Is there a big one in the living room you need to cover up?
Or a smaller one hanging in the hallway that you can take down for now?
Can you spend more time working outside, on a porch, or in a room without a mirror so you're not tempted to fixate on your eyebrows that need waxing?
Lessening your exposure to triggers allows you to focus more on other things.
Spend more time with your journal. With nature. With your heart. I promise you'll get a much CLEARER reflection of the real you. ❤
4. Monitor your social media consumption
There are really harmful and fatphobic messages circulating the web right now.
People are making jokes about the "Quarantine 15" and shaming people into working out "more than normal" with all this "extra time on your hands."
If you're following social media accounts that are guilt-tripping you into working out or selling recipe after recipe on how to stay fit during quarantine - UNFOLLOW THEM.
Set a boundary and don't let these thoughts or messages into your life. Period. Done. Go do it right now.
5. Wear comfortable clothes
How you feel in your body is greatly impacted by the types of clothes you're wearing.
👉 Make sure your clothes fit.
Sounds simple enough, but even I will wear certain articles of clothing long after I've outgrown them. As much I like these clothes for sentimental reasons, it's never comfortable to have a waistband or bra strap digging into your skin.
👉 Give yourself permission to put comfort over style.
Working from home is a beautiful opportunity to tune into our bodies and find what would feel good rather than what would look good.
👉 Explore the benefits of shopping from home rather than in-store.
I'm a big fan of Stitch Fix where clothes get mailed to me and I can try them on in the privacy of my home and send back whatever doesn't fit or I don't like. This is convenient, but also better for my mental health.
6. Avoid the scale
I don't think there's ever a good time or reason to be tracking your weight, but especially not now.
Truth is: Your weight may fluctuate during quarantine. And it will most certainly fluctuate throughout your life.
But gaining or losing weight says nothing about your worth or the quality of life you're living.
Diet-culture tells gaining weight is a "bad thing," but we have the power to stand up to those lies. If you gain weight during quarantine you've done nothing wrong.
I strongly encourage you to remove any scales from your home so you don't feel tempted to use numbers as a stroke or blow to your ego.
7. Incorporate movement into your daily life.
One of the easiest ways to hate your body is to become distant or separate from it.
In fact, many people who struggle with body image view their bodies as objects to be controlled rather than a vessel for your spirit.
Movement is a way for you to re-connect with your body. It's a chance for you to check-in and notice how it’s doing, how it’s feeling, & what it needs.
It's a lot harder to hate something that we've taken the time to get to know. Mov
ement is a way for you to get to know your body. To communicate and turn inward.
Joyful movement is a celebration of the ways your body can move, doing what feels good, and listening to your body’s cues on when and how much to move.
Joyful movement doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Doing nightly stretches or going for a walk around the block are wonderful ways to stay connected with your body.
Staying embodied has nothing to do with calories burned or muscles toned. And during this challenging time, staying embodied is all we're shooting for.
8. Consume inspirational content
Try to increase the number of positive headlines, inspiring texts, and uplifting podcasts you're consuming.
Maybe you start your day with a devotional. Or maybe you have a favorite TED Talk you can rewatch.
Make sure that the information you’re consuming is lifting you up, normalizing being human, and helping you feel supported during this time.
There are way too many negative news stories or triggering social media influencers in the spotlight.
Be intentional about finding resources that lift you up and make them a part of your daily life.
Here are some of my go-tos:
9. Set boundaries with loved ones
It’s not okay for people to comment on your body, weight, or food choices. Setting boundaries can be hard, but it's absolutely worth it.
For the most part, people would do better if they knew how.
That means you might need to educate your spouse on how their comments about your food choices during quarantine are really painful to hear.
Or you might need to request that your family member not comment on your appearance during your next Facetime call.
We can't control the behavior of others but we can make requests or remove ourselves from painful situations.
10. Spend time getting to know your negative thoughts
Looking at your body story is something we spend a lot of time on in my 1:1 coaching program, The Soulful Food and Body Experience, but you can do this on your own as well.
Get curious about your negative thoughts when they arise.
Explore the origin of your body image struggles.
Are your thoughts rooted in long held beliefs about what a body “should” look like?
Are you able to challenge any of these thoughts?
How many of your thoughts do you actually believe to be true?
👉 Give your inner critic a name. When he/she starts getting a little rowdy, reel them in. Tell them to quiet down. And instead, turn up the volume of your soul, your truth, your higher self.
I'd love to know which of these tips is most helpful for you!
Don't forget to pass this post along to others who may need it.
We're all in this together.