One of the biggest factors of my recovery & healing from issues around food was showing myself compassion. I get asked a lot on Instagram how I changed my mindset for better and started to love myself. The truth is, it’s a really gradual journey that requires hard work and acknowledgement that the first step is self acceptance, then befriending yourself and then finally self love. Deep rooted brilliant relationships take time to build and this is exactly the same. It’s worth the hard work, it’s worth the discomfort and it’s worth the time. I’ve never met anyone who has hated themselves happy and therefore you have to give self love a chance. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship possible so it’s not going to be a wasted effort, I promise.
There are a lot of articles out there which advocate face masks and buying yourself flowers as acts of self love and sure these things do make you feel good and I definitely include them in my self care routine but there are a lot more ideas which can help personal growth and the rediscovery of who you are. In other words, I didn’t love myself from having a bubble bath, I started to love myself when I started to get really real with myself. During the process a lot of negative things came up which weren’t the nicest to deal with but were totally important to acknowledge and work through. A reminder here that if you believe you are addicted to food or addicted to controlling your food, these behaviors are definitely covering something a lot deeper going on underneath the surface and it’s time to work out what those things are and how best to deal with them. I don’t want to say that you will overcome all of the emotion that comes up but even just giving it space to exist is massively important.
Whilst reading about the steps I took to show myself self love please remember that this is what worked for me and it’s essential you consider the place you’re in and what works for you. Also if you are struggling with an eating disorder please please please seek guidance and help from a professional.
I cannot explain how important journalling has been to me at different stages in my life. I started a worry journal when I was stressed at work which I’d carry round with me and basically free write about whatever was on my mind. I didn’t try and work out how to solve anything but this was a way for me to aknowledge the thoughts that were in my head and it always made me feel a lot calmer. Later, I started a gratitude journal and each evening I’d take the time to think about and write down one or two things I was thankful for in the day. This helped me find the good no matter how rubbish a time I was having.
Ive also used doodling, word association and other prompts to help me process different situations I was going through. I’ve used exercises to help improve body image where I’ve gone through each part of myself I was struggling with aesthetically and broke down everything that it does for me on a practical level and wrote them down. You do not need to be the world’s best writer to start a journal. It’s a very personal thing and I’d really encourage giving it a try. It’s an incredible practise to get to know yourself better and can help identify areas of your life that aren’t fulfilling you.
There has been a large stretch of time in my life where I was so consumed in diet land that I completely negelected all of the things that bought me joy because I was focusing so much on food. I’m now trying to get back all of the much loved hobbies I’ve lost along the way.
You might not know what you want to spend your time doing so it’s great to try loads of different things and work out what brings you the most enjoyment. For me it’s singing so I’m going to join a choir, reading and crafting. All of these things bought me so much happiness growing up and I want to invest my time in them instead of calculating calories, working out what I am going to eat next or being so consumed in diet thoughts that I’m never truly present in social situations.
Spending time doing hobbies is really great but so is getting comfortable taking time out to do nothing. One thing I really struggled with last year was scheduling all of my free time. I always had a plan, I always knew what I’d be doing every moment of the day. It’s such an exhausting way to live and I was using it as a coping mechanism to be outward focused. If I was always busying myself then I didn’t have to think about what I was really feeling.
I started carving out times in the day or week where I had no plan at all. At the start this may have only been only an hour slot in an otherwise packed week but slowly the time out has increased. It’s such a fun experience to just chose in the moment if you want to do something or if you don’t want to do anything at all (which is usually the case). This space and time you allow yourself freedom to rest does wonders for getting to know yourself, your limits and what are the best ways and times for you to have time out. I now always make sure I have atleast one evening in a social week where I have no plans at all and find myself functioning so much better for it. It’s also an act of honouring your body’s intuitive needs and a food practise of learning to say “no” when it’s needed. You don’t always have to go to everything you’re invited to, you don’t need to make up an elaborate excuse, you are fully allowed to take time out.
Real body photos
So this is something I’ve only just started doing but the effect it’s had has been incredible. Taking photos of areas I feel the most insecure about (e.g. my stomach) has helped me see the beauty in every part of my body. If you spend your time filtering photos to make the perfect ab shot when in reality you are contorting your body and making sure you’re in the ideal light to make the effect.. your view of your body is going to become so wharped. You’ll start punishing yourself if your every day reality isn’t like the you that you see in the photos and that is so damaging. I know it can be scary doing this but it’s really worth the leap of faith. No one is going to be horrible. Everyone is going to be celebrating how badass you are!