Easy ways to love your life
Look at yourself through the eyes of somebody who loves you. ‘Ask your partner to sit with you for five minutes and tell him you want to rediscover what it is that he loves about you,’ says flirt coach Peta Heskell (www .attractionacademy.com). He won’t need much encouragement to reveal all the bits he adores about you and it’s a surefire way to feel truly great about yourself as well as boost your sexual confidence.
‘Women spend far too much energy trying to reach an ideal figure, whether it’s a number on the scales or a number in their clothes,’ says nutritionist and life coach Kate Cook. Her advice? Stand back from the scales and go by how your waistband feels – and if a size-16 label is a constant reminder that makes you feel bad about yourself every day, simply snip it out. Alternatively, choose your favourite dress or pair of jeans and use it as a guide. When it begins to feel tight, you know it’s time to cut back.
‘Increasing numbers of us feel we have to be superwoman in all areas of our lives and feel down on ourselves when we’re not,’ says psychologist Jacqui Marson (www.jacquimarson .co.uk). It’s all very well seeing Angelina Jolie as a role model – she’s a woman who has and does it all: Brad Pitt, kids, great job, philanthropy – but it’s unrealistic to measure your own achievements against hers. ‘People aspire to achieve what she does – without the money and support she has in place,’ says Marson. She suggests using positive psychology to make you feel like an achiever: at the end of each day celebrate three things you’ve achieved, even if it’s getting to the bottom of your to-do list or fitting a 5km run into your lunch hour. Praise yourself for who you are.
Hands-on therapy such as massage can help you connect with your body as well as your feelings. Using touch, Chi Nei Tsang massage increases energy flow to specific organs, helping to dissolve emotional blocks in your abdominal area. ‘The Chinese class the abdomen as the emotional or second brain, so you can often feel tearful after a treatment – there’s a real sense of catharsis,’ says Rob Williamson, practitioner and founder of The Plumb Blossom Clinic in Chelmsford (www.plumbblossom. com). You can massage yourself, but it’s easier if you ask your partner to do it. Smooth almond oil across your whole stomach area, then lie back and start the massage on the lower right side of your abdomen. In increasingly firm circular motions, massage upwards and across under your ribs, then down to the lower left side of your abdomen. As well as releasing stored tension and stress, this Taoist abdominal massage is helpful if you suffer from constipation.
Half our happiness is genetic and a small slice, 10%, is down to circumstances, says research carried out by Sonja Lyubomirsky, an experimental social psychologist at the University Of California, US. That means that the remaining 40% of our happiness is down to what we do and how we think – intentional activities and strategies. ‘It’s all too common to find people being brutally negative with themselves,’ says LA-based life coach, Misha Henckel (www.mishahenckel .com). ‘Observe your internal dialogue. What are you telling yourself over and over again?’ Henckel says you should write down whatever your inner voice is saying. Once you have it on paper, alter it so that it says the opposite. ‘If you regularly tell yourself, “I’m just not good enough” then you need to change that self-talk to something like, “I’m worthy of wonderful things happening in my life.”’
Holistic psychotherapist Gloria Thomas (www .gloriathomas.co.uk) suggests drawing up a mental inventory of everything your body has achieved to date – from running a halfmarathon to fighting off an illness or even giving birth. She also suggests thinking about what your body can still achieve. ‘Stop focusing on what you can’t do and reinforce a positive view of yourself – and think about what you want to achieve for the future.’
‘Do something normal naked,’ says fitness and lifestyle coach Sarah Maxwell. ‘It could be talking on the phone, dancing around the living room or making the bed – it just makes you feel unbelievably confident and puts you at ease with your body.’ But stay away from mirrors – this exercise is meant to focus on your inner confidence, rather than encouraging you to focus on areas of your body that make you feel self-conscious.
There are many different reasons for giving compliments, but the most important one is that it makes the giver feel as good as the beneficiary. It’s impossible to give a compliment without a big smile as you’re connecting honestly and kindly with another person. ‘There are many hidden benefits to giving compliments,’ says Kathy Chamberlin, founder of ComplimentDay.com. ‘It’s amazing that such a small, simple skill can change the way you view yourself. It will strengthen your relationships, boost your selfesteem and increase your confidence as you learn to give selflessly.’ She suggests giving out five compliments every day as a jump-start to looking at the world in a more positive and creative way.
Of all environmental factors, colour has one of the most significant impacts on how you feel. ‘If your bedroom is painted white, for instance, it can make you feel detached,’ says colour psychologist Angela Wright (www.colour-affects.co.uk). ‘It’s a cold colour that doesn’t give you much psychological support.’ Instead, she suggests considering a combination of green and pink. It doesn’t have to be bright – you could choose soft rose and sage. ‘Paint one wall with one colour and add a splash of the other with a cushion or throw. It’ll have a dramatic effect on your feelings,’ says Wright. ‘Pink is physically soothing and nurturing, while green is nature’s favourite colour and will make you feel secure.’
It’s impossible to love yourself when you’re doing something you know instinctively is wrong, says Adam Khan, author of Self-Help Stuff That Works (available online). So make a list of things you do that make you uneasy and stop doing them. Pay no attention to what others think you should or shouldn’t do – just go by what you feel is right. Once you have your list of feel-bad habits down on paper, it’ll give you renewed faith in your judgement. Then tackle the list one step at a time. You may find you have to make amends – perhaps even apologise for or admit to things you’ve done. Doing this will allow you to forgive yourself and learn to like who you are. Z
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