‘New year, new you.’
It’s the same every year. Beginning during the post-festive lull and kicking off on January the 1st, we are bombarded with messages from a toxic diet culture based on faddy diets, obsessive fitness regimes, bettering yourself, “burning off Christmas calories” and wiping the slate clean. While you may not need me to tell you that this is an incredibly unrealistic and unattainable mirage of reality, we all tend to get caught up in it all from time to time. Unsurprising, since it’s pretty pressuring stuff- especially when we’re encouraged to relax, switch off and indulge over Christmas!
These mixed and unhelpful messages create unnecessary anxiety, panic and pressures on people to BE, LOOK and DO better. But what if I was to tell you that you are enough, just the way you are right now and that by embracing yourself, you can truly be the version of you that feels the best.
As a Mental Health and Eating Disorder professional, I see it all too often. The perpetuating pressures there are to have the “ideal body” (whatever that means), to eat perfectly, (which doesn’t exist) and with this comes a whole load of comparison, negative self-talk and a lack of self-appreciation and self-care.
Before I go on, I am not saying there is anything wrong with some personal development, working hard for your goals, aspirations, intentions and dreams! I for one, find it wholly rewarding and beneficial to work on myself, but not at the expenditure of my wellbeing and happiness. Personal change can be daunting and overwhelming, when this starts to make you feel highly anxious, negative and feeling low, ask yourself this: are these changes true to your values and where you want to go in life? Are these changes for you or someone else? Can you accept yourself as you are, right now in this moment and work in baby steps to the place you aspire to be?
You may find that by looking inside yourself, away from the noise and pressures of everyone else, including social media, that you are happy with yourself and situation right now, and if that’s so, own it! Life is not a race, you do not have to be anything but the happiest version of you, if it truly serves you and makes you feel like the happiest and healthiest version of yourself.
Disclaimer: when I say the word healthy, I mean from the inside out, from your soul, to your mind, the body you exist in, the way you eat, feel, communicate and treat yourself and others around you.
If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, or want to make some positive and helpful changes to feeling like a more healthy and happy version of yourself, here are some helpful ways in which you can go about it:
- ONE DAY AT A TIME Take each day as it comes, baby steps which are small and realistic to stop you feeling overwhelmed and deflated. Eating disorders and recovery from any mental health illness take time and patience.
- STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Get support, from health professionals, friends, family and loved ones and know that there is so much strength in reaching out for help, you do not have to do this alone.
- GRATITUDE IS THE ATTITUDE Make a gratitude list, research shows that over a long period of time and practised consistently, this can be more beneficial than taking antidepressants.
- ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR AMAZING ATTRIBUTES Make a note/say out loud ALL the things you value and appreciate about yourself right now, accept your journey and accept yourself. One of the most important things I try and get my clients to understand, is that the true journey to self-love is first about acceptance, learning to be content in who you are and what you see in the mirror.
- DIGITAL DETOX Take a break from social media, turn off the notifications, have a whole weekend off if you can and see how much it helps to stop comparing yourself to everyone else’s journey and life.
- SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH Practice self-care, even on those days you feel like you have gone backwards/ made a mistake (we all do), choose to do something kind for yourself, just like you would a friend or child.
Finally, please remember that health is not a size, we are all SO unique, and the more we learn to truly embrace and accept who we are this year, the happier we can