Love the body and the mind will follow, building self esteem through self love

I had a great surprise recently when I noticed how my attitude, thoughts and feelings towards myself had changed, simply because of my focus on self-care and love towards my body.

  • Have you ever felt there is a common thread amongst human beings – that the mind can be a cruel, unkind companion?
  • Has your own attitude ever been that of a cruel, unkind companion?

There are many therapies about self-talk, positive states of mind, how to get one and create a positive mindset, yet is it as simple as love your body and a healthy mind will follow?

Anxiety and depression thrive in our critical mind.

In my experience the only way to make the shift away from a critical attitude is to build care for yourself and start to love the body.

I realised this about three years ago. I had been making a focus to self-care and about a month into this programme I got off the tube a stop too early and when I realised what I had done, I simply decided to walk. To my surprise my attitude was different: there was no running commentary such as, "How could I have been so stupid?", "You did it again", "You’re such a moron", which would have been the very usually running thoughts at a simple mistake.

I was amazed that my thoughts and feelings were very different and could only put it down to the fact that I had been taking more care of my body.

Since then, I have continued to deepen this care, love and honouring of my body ... and my thoughts and attitude are invariably kinder – I now have a less critical mind and more loving thoughts.

It’s a chicken and egg situation without the confusion – if you love and care for your body, your self esteem builds and the mind will be kinder and more loving.

How to love your body ...

  1. Stay warm ... make sure you have a cardigan, jacket, scarf and gloves with you and even in summer make sure you have a shawl in case it turns colder.
  2. Feeling your body when you wake, so no jumping or staggering out of bed without a second thought for how your body is. Just take a moment when you are in bed to stop and feel how your body feels, then move.
  3. Drink nourishing teas – without caffeine in them.
  4. Avoid stimulating foods, i.e. sugar, salts, junk foods.
  5. Become aware of how you feel after eating different foods so you can make a note of those that change how you feel mentally and physically.
  6. Take regular gentle exercise, eg, gentle walking.
  7. Wash your face with a hot face cloth – a particular favourite of mine.
  8. Put your towel and underwear on the radiator to heat up while you are bathing – the body just loves warm, hot clothes.
  9. Breathe gently, focus on the rhythm of your breath.
  10. Keep your mind on the activity your body is doing.

It makes sense that we as bodies would respond to love and self-care by building greater self-esteem. This surprise I had makes me wonder if anxiety and depression, which love a critical mind, could also be helped with the simple self-care and exercise routines above.

Could it be as simple as to begin to love your body and care for ourselves first?

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  • By Vanessa McHardy, MA Integrative Child Psychotherapist

    Vanessa loves to help young people and adults to have an understanding of how they learn and how they can express all of themselves in all areas of their lives. True learning is at the heart of Vanessa’s life in all ways.

  • Photography: Alan Johnston, Photographer

    I have studied Social Documentary Photography. Lots of life experience throughout which I have kept a keen sense of humour.