The holidays can be hell.
For those of you who don’t feel comfortable in your own skin on a good day, the holidays can be especially stressful. Being surrounded by friends and family who may not understand what you’re going through can make you feel vulnerable and threaten to undo all your accomplishments.
First, let me remind you to be patient with yourself. Learning to love your body and who you are takes time. It’s a process. It’s okay to do what you need to do to feel safe and good about yourself.
Here is a list of seven things you can do over the holidays that can boost your confidence and keep your progress on track. Carry the list with you and read it often. You’ll find that these steps can be helpful as a great guide to self-care and self-love both now and for the rest of your life.
1. Know that true beauty isn’t what’s on the outside.
There is no beauty contest on earth that can determine true beauty. That’s because your beauty resides inside of you. And unlike external beauty that depends on your physical appearance, inner beauty has the potential to keep getting better with age. True beauty is an attitude. It’s a state of mind. And it has nothing to do with how much you weigh or what you wear. Finally, when you realize your true beauty, the confidence you get allows you to better face other challenges that may come your way. And best of all, inner beauty cannot be judged.
2. Be grateful for all that your body can do.
Celebrate all the amazing things your body does every single day to keep you healthy and alive. It acts like a warrior to fight against illness and disease. It allows you to dream, dance, laugh, and breathe. Take a moment to feel gratitude for all the vital things your body does for you.
3. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable and happy.
Scientists have long known that certain colors can affect your mood. Warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow conjure emotions from comfort to hostility. Cooler colors such as blue, purple, and green evoke calm, sadness, or indifference. Find colors that make you feel good, relaxed, and soothed.
Likewise, there is a connection between what we wear and how we feel. Known as “dopamine dressing,” it’s important to wear outfits that make you feel comfortable and happy. Take the advice of Marie Kondo and ask yourself if wearing that outfit brings you joy. If it doesn’t, get rid of it.
4. Be kind to yourself.
Self-care doesn’t mean being selfish. Take the time to do something nice for yourself, without any guilt. Self-care fosters your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Make time for a nap. Take a long walk outdoors in nature. Read a good book. Write in a journal. Take a bubble bath. Listen to your favorite music. Although taking the time to care for yourself sounds like common sense, it’s often the last thing we think to do when faced with challenging situations in our lives. That’s why self-care is so important. Life is precious and meant to be enjoyed.
5. Surround yourself with positive people.
This is another aspect of self-care. It’s easier to feel good about yourself when the people around you support and encourage you. That doesn’t mean you have to eliminate negative people from your life (many of whom may be family members). Instead of crowding out negative people, crowd in the positive people. The more time you spend with those who lift you up, the more motivated and cheerful you will feel.
6. Take a break from social media.
You are never going to be Gisele Bündchen, and that’s okay. The trouble with social media is that it sets up unrealistic images of the perfect life and the perfect body. It can be easy to compare yourself to those images, but most of them have been edited. They aren’t real.
A recent study found that having at least one social media account, with Instagram being the most common, has led nearly 52% of girls and 45% of boys to skip meals and over-exercise—behaviors associated with eating disorders. It’s not just social media. Another study asked elementary school-aged girls about the magazines they read, and 69% believed that the pictures they saw represented ideal body shapes. A full 47% said those pictures made them want to lose weight. Do yourself a favor and take a break from social media for a while.
7. Refocus your energy by helping others.
When you help others, you have less time to dwell on your own life challenges. And you’ll be amazed at how good you feel. That’s because helping others gives you a rush of endorphins. Studies have shown that the benefits of helping others can have long-lasting effects including reduced stress and improved physical and emotional health.
Of course, one list cannot immediately turn your negative body thoughts into positive ones, but it can introduce you to healthier ways of looking at yourself and your body. As you start to practice these new thought patterns, you will begin to change the way you think and feel about yourself.
If you are feeling anxiety about the upcoming holidays or if your negative thoughts and behaviors are impacting your everyday life, please reach out to us. At Wallace Family Therapy, we are trained to provide the most effective treatment that meets your specific needs and challenges. We’re here to help you.