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Learning to build self compassion

Did you know that approximately 70% of women are unhappy with their body shape or weight? The traditional weight management message for people with larger bodies was to eat healthier and do more exercise. Unfortunately the use of weight stigmatising terms combined with years of unsuccessful dieting and on and off again exercise regimes have led to higher levels of body image distress and no improvement in overall levels of health.

New research has begun to show that the way we speak to ourselves about our bodies can make a significant difference in long-term physical and mental health outcomes. Building self-compassion into your day can improve overall levels of body image and has also been shown to have better outcomes than traditional weight management advice alone, for people wishing to loose weight.

Here are some tips for building self-compassion into your day.

  • When looking in the mirror, instead of highlighting body parts you don’t like, try to focus on the function of your body parts. For example: Instead of ‘look at my wobbly thighs’, try ‘these legs let me walk around all day’.

  • Have a go at talking to yourself the way you would talk to a friend. Imagine putting your friend in the same position you are in and consider what you would say to them. For example: If a friend made a mistake at work would you tell them they were stupid? Or would you be more compassionate?

  • Make a list of things that you can do to look after yourself. Some examples might be – taking a bath, having coffee with an old friend or taking a walk in nature. Treating yourself to self-care is a great way to practice self-compassion.

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