Body Judgments and Self-Esteem; Part 1 of Mental Health and Bodies
Could the dis-easy relationship with your body be contributing to sub-optimal mental health? The connection between our body and mind is a hot topic these days. Experts from different perspectives are linking stuck emotions, limited thought patterns and stress to poor body health. But what if it worked the other way as well?
We hear frequently how the mind can affect the body but how does the body – or more importantly our relationship to our body – effect our mental health? After all it is difficult to be happy or feel satisfied with your life when your body isn’t feeling well or when you are uncomfortable in your own skin.
How are these toxic relationships created? Have you ever notice how many of your interactions with your body are riddled with judgments? How often do you look in the mirror and judge the size, shape, health and age of your body? Do you find yourself comparing your body to others and judge it when it doesn’t stack up? Do you force your body into strenuous exercise regimes, extreme diets or clothes it doesn’t like as a way to try to fix it?
All of these actions are based on the judgement that your body isn’t good enough. What affect does that have on your body? What affect does it have on your mental health and overall happiness? It is easy to see how that judgmental point of view towards your body could start to affect your mental health. It isn’t a big leap from; ‘hey body you aren’t good enough’ to ‘I’m not good enough.’ Stress, lack of self-worth, poor self-confidence and overall dissatisfaction with life can be born this way.
The good news is it is never too late to change this dynamic. Our bodies are forgiving and bounce back as soon as the door is opened (by you!) to engage with them in a conscious and healthy way. Once you open up to this possibility you will begin to see how a more positive relationship between you and your body can create more for both of you. Imagine living day to day where the health of your body could assist in your mental health and vice versa. A happy body can lead to a happy you; all you have to do is take the first step.
How do you stop judging your body? Be mindful during the day as the judgment we have of our bodies are insidious and many times unconscious. Set a target that you will be aware of your own body judgments. When you find yourself judging your body stop and instead find something you are grateful for about it. Gratitude and judgement are opposing energies – they cannot co-exist. By introducing gratitude into your relationship and interaction with your body you will immediately dispel the judgement. Flip the judgments to gratitude and see what affect that has on your body/mind health!