This week is important, crazy important. It’s important for you reading this, it’s important for our future generations, it’s important for everyone. The theme for mental health awareness week 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies. Body image issues can affect all of us at any age. We live with our bodies as they evolve and change. I write openly in my book about some of the challenges I have faced, from being called pancake girl as I was a very slim child, to being teased for smiling all the time (which was apparently weird). I’ve also been teased for having a big bust, I’ve been told I need to lose weight, to dress a different way, to change my hair, to wear less makeup, to wear more makeup, to stop getting false eyelashes because I look ‘cheap’, to get some botox to sort out my laughter lines. You get my drift. I could go on. It’s exhausting. There will always be wasps in our lives that sting and nip in our heads. Sometimes we will be a wasp too. It’s called being human. But we can also be a butterfly, that rises above it and spreads a little colour and magic. The key for me is being aware of when we are making a difference for the better or worse. This starts with how we talk to ourselves. It takes work to talk to ourselves kindly, because we are programmed to focus on the negative. First thing in the morning is a great time to start. This may sound strange, but studies show we can have a huge impact by simply looking in the mirror and saying kind words to ourselves. Why not try it tomorrow?
Smile at yourself and say loud and proud whatever makes you feel good. I am going to go with:
I am strong, I am energetic, I am loving, I am a great person, I am caring and fun. I am sexy. I am making a huge difference. I am already more than enough.
Sometimes I dance around the kitchen and tell myself this. I keep doing it. Even when it feels impossible. So should you. Some call it faking it until we make it. I don’t care what you call it. The fact of the matter is that subconsciously we are still carrying around too many stories that impact our behaviour. We need to break the pattern.
I recently met Daniel Euan Henderson who shares my love of self-development, drama (the good, funny kind), and helping to smash the stigma of mental health. I love the work he is doing and am thrilled that he is inspiring millions of people around the world to love themselves. Often the best content comes from lessons and Daniel has used the times he has been rejected or struggled with low self-esteem as a driving force to make some serious changes. To quote him (full conversation below in video or here on my podcast):
‘I was one of these people that was rejected so much but instead of taking it personally I told myself, I’m an amazing person. We all are. I got upset that people can be so superficial. What matters most in life is how happy you are and how much love you give to others. We all have an inner light that shines out and can really help others. I wanted to help bring that out in other people. Don’t beat yourself up based on the opinions of others. We need to teach the younger generation that the people who stand out are the ones having fun, the ones who are totally themselves. When we let go of the ego and pride, that’s when good things happen. When we are self-aware and we know who we are, it is the best incentive to go out and make a real impact in the world.’
We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. Our bodies are beautiful and complex with regenerative powers. Sadly, for too many of us, our bodies are something we feel ashamed of. It’s damaging and closely linked with poor mental health. Daniel and I openly discuss how we can become more comfortable with our bodies in order to live a happier life. We talk about struggles we have faced and what has helped and what has not. I love his dancing and singing at the end. This was one serious mojo injection skype session and i’m thrilled to share it with you all.
There are so many pressures in our world. Lately, we have been learning about addiction when it comes to cosmetic surgery, I have had discussions with people who work in the industry who believe their patients would benefit more from a form of talking therapy over another physical procedure to’ boost their self esteem’. Shows like Love Island only add to the pressure to be perfect. This morning, despite the theme of this week and all the great work that is being done, the following headline came up when I did a quick google search:
‘TRAINING LIKE A B****’
New Love Island stars ‘training for two hours a day’ and ‘paying thousands for personal trainers’ to get bikini body ready
Talk about pressure. This pressure encourages me to keep working hard to make some serious changes before my kids are old enough to be on social media. It’s encouraging to hear that steps are already in place to make the popular social media apps a healthier place for our minds.
Here are a few of my tips to be more body kind.
Take less selfies
I love what Daniel says about teaching our younger generation to have more fun. Whilst i’m not against a selfie, I take a lot less these days. Looking back, there were stages where I took way too many. It meant missing moments. It meant having less fun. I witnessed this first hand whilst visiting a pool party in Dubai recently. There were groups of girls standing for over 30 minutes attempting to get the most perfect shot. They looked stressed and frustrated.
Be kind towards yourself
Start speaking kindly to yourself. In the mirror, when you drive, as you go about the day. Why not pick a couple of mantras and tell them to yourself so often that you start to really believe them. I love ‘You are magic’. But how much easier is it to think that about other people instead of ourselves?
I love what Daniel says about our inner light. We all have it within us and we have too much potential to play small. Here’s a good mantra – ‘you are a shining light’. Take a song to go with it (here), you’re welcome x
Daniel speaks of a book that changed his life and how he uses some of the content to get him moving and out of viscous circles. I love the quote ‘Reading is a hospital for the mind’. Do more of it. My first book has been described as a ‘warm hug’. I am working hard to make the next one a full on spoon in bed, massive snuggle.
Move past mistakes
It can be easy to carry mistakes around with us. Daniel and I both share some mistakes we have made but the key is being aware and moving past it. This is so important to remind us to be kinder to ourselves.
Don’t strive for perfect
Perfect is a bad word. We are imperfect beings. Don’t hide away. Sweat when you workout shows you are working hard, don’t miss out from fear of how you may look. Scars tell a story about who you are. Be proud of all of it, be real.
Super busy and stressed? You need time even more. Make it. Find it. Have some time for you. Time to be still. Time to think clearly. Time to go easy on yourself. You are important.