Self-care for the body:
“Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rhon
What is self-care?
Self-care is what we do to look after ourselves. Many of us spend much more time ‘punishing’ ourselves than ‘nourishing’ ourselves. We say we ‘can’t’ wear certain clothes because of our body size or shape and force ourselves to do excessive exercise to burn off food from the previous day.
We push ourselves at the gym, pull ourselves out of bed, suck in our stomachs, press our feet into high heels, we juice, detox, juice cleanse, fast, and restrict in endless efforts and a never-ending quest to ‘improve’ our bodies. We are much harsher on ourselves than we are on others. Most of us wouldn’t talk to other people like we talk to ourselves.
What would self-care of our bodies look like?
A caring approach to our bodies would be doing exercise because it feels food, wanting to eat healthily to look after ourselves and live healthily, enjoy treat foods without guilt or shame, taking time to rest and spend time with family and friends, wearing what makes us feel good and spending time doing things that make us feel good.
What if you don't look like a Disney princess?
We grow up hearing fairy-tales and most of the heroes and heroines are stereotypically attractive. Given the storylines of these fairy-tales, we can believe that we have to look like Cinderella to be happy. What if we look or feel more like another character, who didn’t get a happy ending in the story? Does this mean that we can’t be happy? No, it doesn’t, but these stories and the constant celebrity and social media barrage of airbrushed and filtered images contribute to these cultural stereotypes of happiness and beauty which are deeply engrained in our minds.
What is self-care for the body?
Self-care for the body is not just about food or what we look like. A healthy and happy body can be of many sizes and shapes and requires nourishment in terms of sleep, healthy food, physical activity, rest, fresh air, sunshine, water, limiting toxins and more.
Why do we need self-care?
Long term stress is bad for you, it can weaken your immune system, alter your digestion and even stop reproduction, as well as speeding up aging. Self-care reduces stress and improves health. Self-care doesn’t have to cost money, and little things make a big difference.
Diets are the anti-self-care.
Each diet is like a war on your body, we are so used to trying to control how we look that we forget how we feel and what our bodies need. It is so common to dissociate ourselves from our body, with our body easily viewed as a vessel to carry our mind, where most of our living takes place.
Many of us have a complicated relationship with our bodies. Eating disorders and body dysmorphia are extreme examples of distorted body image. Outside of diagnosable conditions, there are infinite types of unhealthy relationships with bodies, food and eating which can cause substantial and even life-limiting distress. The good news is that it is possible to get a better relationship with your body, if self-love seems too much then self-acceptance might seem more manageable.