Friday, 17 May 2019


Happy Friday my lovelies and welcome to my second post for mental health awareness week! 

The theme for this year's mental health awareness week is 'Body Image - how we think and feel about our bodies' and that's the topic of today's post. In a world of social media, the struggle with body image can be even harder and I think it is so important to create a dialogue where we can share our stories and support each other.

Like most teenagers, I really struggled with body image. I have always been a little curvier than most girls and I didn't understand why all my friends were slimmer than me. I 'blossomed' pretty early and remember hating how big my chest and hips were. I basically spent my entire teenage years trying to hide my body. I wouldn't dare wear anything that showed my figure and based my entire wardrobe around what made me look the slimmest. I distinctly remember going to the pool with my friend once and making a real effort to go from taking off my clothes to jumping in the pool as quickly as possible so nobody would see me in my swimming costume. I must have been about 15 at the time.

At 17 years old I then got chronically ill and spent a significant amount of the next 2 years essentially being bedridden. My body was struggling, I couldn't partake in much physical activity, even going for a walk was a struggle, and my relationship with food was pretty unhealthy too. Over those years I put on a ton of weight. Between the inactivity, poor eating habits and the physical stress of being so unwell, my body was shot. Once I had finished my treatment, it still took about a year before my body began to strengthen more and it wasn't until a year after that (the start of this year), that some of the weight started to come off. However, it was probably this last year that marked a turning point in my relationship with my body. Now I still have some way to go, but I can gladly say that right now, I love my body, despite its many floors. I consciously decide every single day that I love my body and all it does for me. Some days it is hard to love my body, and I just have to say 'today I don't like my body, but I'm still going to love it anyway', and sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't, and that is okay. Self-love is work and it's a journey but trust me you will get there.

Over this last year, I have discovered a few little tips and tricks that have helped me strengthen my relationship with my body and thought I would share them in case you want to give them a go. 

1. Have a social media cleanse.
Social media is wonderful and terrible all at once. It's full of inspiration and connection while also constantly filling your mind with the 'highlight reel' of everyone else who is more successful, prettier, happier or whatever other lies it spins. For me, Instagram was an issue as I was constantly looking at these flawless women who looked nothing like me. One day, I decided I'd had enough and I went through and unfollowed anybody whose posts made me unhappy. Guess what? You can do that! It doesn't mean their profile is bad, it just means you're proactively cutting out the negativity in your life. Once you've done this, I'd recommend following some accounts that inspire self-love and acceptance. One of my favourites at the moment is @i_weigh (an incredible movement by Jameela Jamil all about loving yourself and valuing yourself for more than your looks).

2. Prioritise self-care.
Taking time to care for yourself both mentally and physically does wonders for strengthening your relationship with yourself. Personally, some of my favourite ways include doing a face-mask, painting my nails, doing yoga, meditating and doing my hair. It completely depends on you and how you're feeling that day, but taking some time to look after and care for your body really helps you to connect with it. For me, seeing my body as something I have (that I can look after and care for) rather than something I am (and all I am) made a huge difference in how I view and love myself. 

3. Consciously choose gratitude.
Gratitude is immense in helping my mental health and this stems down to self-love. I am pretty sure there have been studies showing just how beneficial gratitude can be and I have definitely felt the effects in my own life too. With regard to accepting my body, once I shifted my mind to a space of gratitude for my body, things really shifted. Now, this was really hard for me at first because I was mad at my body. It had gotten ill and that illness had taken my life away from me at the time, so my body and I were not on speaking terms. However, starting small, I managed to build this up to being well and truly grateful for my body and all it has done for me. If you're just starting out, I would recommend just trying, every morning as you're getting ready for the day, to look in the mirror and tell yourself 3 things you are grateful for about your body (bonus points if you can do this naked- yet it feels weird but weirdly empowering). It can be anything big or small, but I personally find it's better to try and avoid surface level things (such as 'I am so grateful for my legs because they are so slim') because you want to try and distance your relationship with your body from that sense of value from looks. 

4. Give yourself some time
My final tip is simply to give yourself some time. Forgive yourself when you slip up and allow yourself some time. No good relationship can be formed overnight and it is no different than your relationship with your body. Keep making those conscious decisions to connect with yourself and over time that relationship will grow and strengthen.

I think the common misconception with self-love is that in order to love your body, it has to be perfect. You have to be the right weight and toned in all the right areas and it has to be healthy and then we can love our body. We will love our body when we look like this/ when I feel like this/ when this has happened. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it doesn't really work like that. Self-love really truly comes from the inside and it takes work and perseverance and persistence. But you know the great thing about that? You can start right now. 

Let's start right this second. Tell me one thing you absolutely love about your body, something you are so grateful for. For me, I really love my legs and I am so grateful for everything they allow me to do. Without them, I couldn't dance or walk around the lake or do yoga. They are not the strongest or slimmest or longest but I love them just as they are.


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