A month or so ago, I started feeling really bad about my body. I woke up on the wrong side of the body image bed, so to speak, and — goodness — things went from bad to worse.
I went from feeling mildly unpleased with how I looked in a particular top to actively loathing, well, pretty much every part of me.
What’s interesting about this is that, because I’ve been through this SO many times, countless times, I was able to observe the process.
With one breath I’d be cursing my belly, and with the next breath I’d think “Hmm, what’s going on here?”
To me, this is what the body acceptance journey is built on — not never feeling negatively about your body ever again (still haven’t met anyone who meets that description, especially not myself), but rather noticing when it happens and seeing what you can do to shift it.
I know this may sound silly, but I’m truly astounded every time I ask my body for an answer and receive one. And not only do I receive one, but the response is nearly instantaneous — like all my body had been doing was waiting around for me to wake up and tune in, and then it couldn’t wait to give me the scoop.
So after several hours of avoiding doing so (not particularly consciously, of course), I decided to ask my body: What do you need right now?
As I scanned my body, I got two things right away: I’m hungry and I’m tired.
Hungry and tired?! That couldn’t be the ONLY thing going on, could it? I mean, I was in the depths of despair here! Also, I hardly had time for a nap: I was getting ready to leave for a trip later that afternoon!
But, not wanting to ruin the rest of my day and weekend with this attitude that was going nowhere but south, I decided to oblige — annoyed, frustrated and with an eye-roll.
SNACK & A NAP
So I had a snack to hold me over until lunch. And as much as I hate to admit this, I started to feel better almost immediately.
Encouraged, I laid down for a nap. I set my alarm for 45 minutes (the amount of time I had in order to still get ready for the trip) but woke up in 30, refreshed and upbeat.
I had a complete shift in my energy, and the rest of the day and weekend had a decidedly different tone than they would have otherwise.
Now, is it always this “easy” (not that listening to your body is easy for many of us) to change how you’re feeling on a down-on-your-body day?
But I think that’s because what our body needs isn’t always going to be a snack and a nap. Sometimes it will need something else. The key to me, though, is asking. It’s hard to get anywhere (at least anywhere different) without that step.
Sometimes, though? Sometimes it will be eating a snack and having a nap. In recovery circles, they talk about if you’re in a spiral like this that you should HALT. That is, check to see if you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. And if you have one or more of those going on, acknowledge and shift that before you go any further.
I think there’s such wisdom in that simple phrase of HALT. We’re human, but sometimes we want to be super-human and not have to have these basic needs met. But really, without them, we can’t go further — particularly in any healing process like around how we feel about our bodies.
So next time you’re feeling this way, give it a try. Ask your body what it needs and see what comes forward.
To read more of Anna Guest-Jelley’s work, check out Curvy Yoga here.