Just as our minds and bodies are all beautifully unique, the term ‘body confidence’ likely means different things to each of us. For some, it may be a physical feeling of love and energy running from limb to limb, while for others it may be more closely linked to mental wellbeing, and building a strong connection between the mind, body and soul. For body confidence expert and author Astrid Longhurst, the secret to feeling your best self is achieving a balance of all those elements, with authenticity at the core.
True body confidence is about being your authentic self, living your life by your values and owning your happiness,” she explains. “In essence, it’s a feeling of honouring and accepting who you are and not allowing your weight, size, shape, age or anything else to define you.”
While our experiences of body confidence may vary, in a 2016 study Dr. David Frederick, researcher and assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University, concluded: “Our findings show that men's and women's feelings about their weight and appearance play a major role in how satisfied they are with their lives overall.”
That struggles with body image, self-esteem and our overall happiness are so closely intertwined comes as no surprise to maturation coach and author, Nicky Clinch. “We live in a world that constantly presents us with the idea that we need to be better. Social media, the internet, advertising – everywhere we look we are being told we need to be happier, shinier, prettier,” she explains. “We are conditioned to feel that how we are is not enough. Feeling more confident comes when we can begin to disconnect from that mindset and fully connect to our body.”
Ready to feel more confident about how you look? Try these five tips from body confidence experts who use them too.
- Daily affirmations
“I’m a big believer in daily affirmations,” says Amy Crumpton, an expert in mindset, positivity and neuro-linguistic programming techniques. “Take some time to research them and create ones that work for you – they can focus on things that are true and also things that you want to be true. Some of my favourites include: ‘I am perfect the way I am’, or ‘my body allows me to do amazing things every day’.”
“I recommend everyone comes up with a list of 20 affirmations. When you have your list, choose two or three a day and repeat them to yourself. You may find it useful to say them out loud, in front of a mirror, or perhaps to write them down.”
- Limit social media
It’s become a huge part of our lives, but several studies suggest social media can trigger feelings of low self-esteem. “One really useful tool I suggest that everyone implements to boost their body confidence is to ‘stop the scroll’,” says Crumpton. “It’s so easy to grab your phone first thing in the morning and mindlessly scroll through social media, absorbing it all without even being properly awake yet.
“Instead, when you wake up make a conscious effort to decide on the type of day you want to have and remind yourself of this before you check your social media channels. It’ll help to protect yourself against potential triggers.”
Struggling to unplug? Try these tips for a digital detox.
Whether you’re new to journaling or have been practising mindful writing for some time, there’s much to gain from putting your feelings about how you look onto paper. “Writing it all down has been a life-changing daily routine for me,” says Ali McDowall, a mental health campaigner and co-founder of The Positive Planner. “Simply picking up a pen and letting it all out for five minutes a day can really change your outlook on things, and encourage resourceful thinking around tricky areas of your life.”
- Positive body language
Crumpton and Longhurst both highlight the power of words, and the positive impact mindful language can have on our body confidence. “Words are the architects of our lives, and in terms of feeling confident and happy in our body, they are game-changers in how we feel about ourselves,” says Longhurst.
“Choosing transformational language - such as strong, powerful, energised, healthy - will help our bodies to actually feel that way,” adds Crumpton. “I write this line in my journal almost daily: ‘I am so happy and grateful for my fit, strong, healthy body’.”
“Meditation is a beautiful way to help instil a better sense of body confidence,” notes Longhurst. “Combine it with gentle meaningful movements and mantras, so you involve all of the body rather than just the mind.”
Feeling self-conscious about certain areas? Longhurst recommends leaning into those feelings to create a new, more positive connection. “If you desire to feel more confident about your arms, for example, close your eyes and take a few deep full breaths in and out, allowing yourself to melt into your muscles,” she guides.
“Bring both arms up as if you are carrying a bubble of light, raise them up to your heart as you breathe in, and then lower them back down to your belly as you exhale. Repeat this gentle movement as you say quietly in your mind: ‘My arms are strong, capable and loving, and I embrace my life with ease and joy.’ This simple movement meditation helps to forge a greater connection with your body, heart, mind and spirit.”
Keen to try more meditation? Start with this soothing practice to boost feelings of happiness and positivity.