Health: Five easy ways to bump up your body confidence

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During Body Confidence Week, Abi Jackson shares her top tips.

Body confidence is a topic that all of us can relate to on some level or another. For some, it may be part of a serious problem, while for many others, it might just be that niggling feeling that you don’t quite measure up.

Either way, how we feel about our bodies can have a big impact on our lives.

To link with Body Confidence Week, a campaign has been launched to help everybody to put health above appearance and feel more confident.

New research reveals two-thirds of parents feel their children are under unbearable pressure about the way they look, while nearly 30 per cent of adults saying they feel ugly on a daily basis.

But there are ways to help yourself:

We can be incredibly mean to ourselves. Overcoming this takes ongoing effort, but a useful trick is simply to speak to yourself as you would a friend. Imagine your friend was feeling insecure - you’d reassure them they’re beautiful, remind them of their many good points and that they’re wonderful and valued. How about trying this approach with yourself? It might feel silly, but changing the language you use to speak to yourself can make a dramatic difference to your thought processes.

Shift your focus – I have always loved swimming, but there was a time when the sheer dread of wearing a cossie dominated the activity. It’s actually very normal to feel slightly uncomfortable being seen in swimwear – and that’s ok. Learning to accept a degree of discomfort can be a very healthy thing, as it frees us up to realise it’s not that big a deal. Reminding myself why I love swimming, really focusing on the peacefulness of the water, how amazing it feels to master that tricky stroke, how invigorated I am after a good dip, has meant that gradually, worrying how I look while doing it has become less and less important.

Don’t confuse perfection and confidence –this is so important, but something that takes many of us a long time to truly realise. But ‘perfection’ does not equate confidence, and vice versa. Firstly, the notion of perfection is a dangerous one, because it doesn’t really exist. Secondly, and far more importantly, is that it doesn’t need to exist, because you really do not need to be perfect.

Widen your horizons – a big part of building body confidence is to think of it as general confidence. Addressing things on the outside might really help you feel better about yourself, but we can all benefit from working on our inner confidence too. When we’re confident on the inside, we’re better equipped to deal with whatever life throws at us.

Be a team – our bodies can really let us down sometimes, can’t they? But, no matter what, you and your body are a team. You’re in it together, so it really does help if you’re on the same side. Nurturing that connection teaches you to respect your body, and in effect, respect yourself as a whole too. You don’t need to live like a saint or go to extremes, but getting into the habit of doing regular exercise - in whatever form you enjoy - thinking about eating well and giving yourself the fuel you need, getting enough sleep and making time to relax, will boost your body and mind.

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