When you're feeling down about yourself, Try this.
Updated: May 21
Yesterday, I had a day. Quarantine had me feeling overwhelmed. When this happens, I get annoyed at things. That day, it was my body. Everything I put on, I hated. I also felt really tired and didn't want to train or walk. All I wanted to do was sit on the couch, watch Netflix and dunk hob nobs in my tea.
The negative inner dialogue that surrounded the day was pretty tiring. I knew it would pass, but still. What I really needed was to practice what I preach and find some self-compassion.
Self-compassion comes from buddhism. It's associated with positive mental well-being. There are three parts to think of, all of which are really helpful.
1.) Self-Kindness: This is being kind and understanding towards yourself, rather than being harsh or judgey.
2.) Common Humanity: Realising that everyone is imperfect, fails, makes mistakes and faces challenges instead of feeling isolated when you're suffering.
3.) Mindfulness: Being aware of our negative thoughts and emotions in a balanced way.
Self-compassion can improve your body image and satisfaction with it because when you are kind and understanding towards yourself, you move away from critising and putting yourself down. Compassion also helps you realise that not all human beings are perfect, and that a lot people feel badly about themselves.
When you practice mindfulness by having a non-judgey and balanced view, you're less overwhelmed by negative thoughts or emotions, and saying things like ‘I’m not attractive’ or ‘My body doesn’t look as it should'. The mindfulness creates space to just notice the thought.
So, how can you create self-compassion to improve your body image and diet?
Mindfulness helps you distance yourself and observe that negative inner dialogue. Mindfulness is a quality we all have and you can access it at any time. It’s simply being present in this moment right here, right now. Mindfulness creates space for you to think, to breathe and space away from your reactions. There are many ways to incorporate it, but here’s a really simple way:
· Set a timer for 5 minutes.
· Sit somewhere comfortable and quiet
· Close your eyes and breathe normally
· Move your awareness to your breath. Follow each breath from the beginning of the inhale, to the end of the exhale and repeat.
· When you notice your mind has wandered, bring it back to your breath and repeat. Be kind to your wandering mind, it's just doing its job.
2. Pep Talk using inner child or a friend approach
I'll bet you’ve given a friend or a family member a pep talk when they’re going through a tough time. Think of what you would say to a friend who's struggling with something. Would you speak to yourself differently? How can you change that pep talk and give it to yourself.
Alternatively, picturing your younger self helps. It's a lot easier to be nice to a child so use that change your inner dialogue. Tell them it's OK. Be there for them. Check out this inner child meditation. It's a tool we love.
3. Mantra and Affirmations
When you need a little self-compassion, mantras or inspirational quotes are great. They don’t have to be cheesy if you’re not into it. Find some that work for you. Go onto google or pinterest and pick your favourites. Then grab them any time you need them. We like putting them as a screensaver, or jot them down on a post it.
Here's some we like:
I am Enough - Who I am is enough, what I do is enough and what I have is enough.
Be Kinder to yourself and then let your kindness flood the world.
I am one of a kind
Small steps everyday
Remember that being compassionate towards yourself is a practice. It takes time but the more you do it, the easier it is. Try setting an intention at the start of your day to cultivate more of it. Add in a few minutes of mindfulness, to create some space for any negative inner dialogue that pops up. Mindfulness helps you be aware of it. When you're aware you can watch, rather than become the negative thought. You've got this.
Albertson, E. R., Neff, K. D., & Dill-Shackleford, K. E. (2015). Self- compassion and body dissatisfaction in women: A randomized con- trolled trial of a brief meditation intervention. Mindfulness, 6(3), 444–454. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0277-3.
Neff, K. D. (2003b). Self-compassion: an alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101.
Olson, K. L., & Emery, C. F. (2015). Mindfulness and weight loss: a systematic review. Psychosomatic Medicine, 77(1), 59–67. https:// doi.org/10.1097/psy.0000000000000127.
Self-compassion.org. 2020. [online] Available at: <https://self-compassion.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Rahimi-Ardabili2017.pdf> [Accessed 24 April 2020].
Teixeira, P., Going, S., Houtkooper, L., Cussler, E., Metcalfe, L., Blew, R., et al. (2004). Pretreatment predictors of attrition and successful weight management in women. International Journal of Obesity, 28(9), 1124–1133.
Traverso, A., Ravera, G., Lagattolla, V., Testa, S., & Adami, G. (2000). Weight loss after dieting with behavioral modification for obesity: the predicting efficiency of some psychometric data. Eating and Weight Disorders, 5(2), 102–107.