If we think about it, if we were ever prompted to post our relationship status with our bodies on social media, many of us would post “it's complicated.” I know. It's a bizarre thought, even laughable, but imagine if this was the social standard. It truly would be easier said than done for many. We feel okay about some things about our bodies, but there may be other things that irritate us. We might love our hair, for example, but hate our endless quest to lose weight. So, yes, it is complicated.
Research suggests that whether it is cultural or a social standard, many Americans seem to adopt a negative body image or have an estranged relationship with themselves. Differences can vary with gender and ethnicity. However, despite the differences, many agree that although our bodies are resilient, we put them through a bit of punishing. Whether it is the kinds of foods we eat, toxins we voluntarily ingest, lack of sleep, or a sedentary lifestyle, we sometimes put our needs last when it comes to self-care. How can we shift our self perception so we can live a healthier lifestyle? Here are a few insights to move in that direction.
Self-care = better performance. It may sound counterintuitive, but taking breaks can actually help us perform better. Olympic athletes push themselves to their limits, but successful ones also schedule sufficient time to rest and recover.
They track the nutrients they consume with the hope of increased energy and sustained endurance needed. All of these refinements help them to be on top of their game for a longer period of time, which means become a better athlete. Perhaps a similar train of thought can fuel us to be better people, a better employee, friend, and so on.
Our core. Central people in our lives might be friends and family, but we are the core or common denominator of all our relationships. If we do not maintain ourselves by first acknowledging our own needs, treating ourselves well, and keeping ourselves in good health, then the other people in our lives will only experience a fraction of who we are. With this in mind, taking time out for ourselves can be the best thing for everyone involved.
So go ahead, schedule that hour in the morning to meditate and exercise. Think of it like a date. You won't want to blow it off because our strongest partner and ally (a.k.a. YOU) would be disappointed. Besides, everyone will benefit- including you!
So what is getting in the way of our promising self-care relationship? Is it work? Unfulfilling personal relationships? Ourselves? No matter the reason, increased focus on our personal health, exercise, and personal growth can be the missing piece to better self-esteem and overall happiness. It might be worth a try.
Erica is a psychotherapist and humanitarian aid coordinator who has a background in health psychology, global health, and addictions. She has over 16 years of counseling, teaching, and coaching experience. Erica has several masters degrees, is a licensed counselor, and has an addiction certification. She has worked with all ages in the US and abroad. Follow Erica on Twitter. Se habla español.
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