Body Positivity – A Guide to Embracing Yourself!

4 woman of different body shapes and sizes smiling

These days, we can’t get away from images of “happy beautiful people” who populate our digital world. Just check out all the carefully curated posts in your social media feed, not to mention media advertisements and content –no wonder they collectively fuel unattainable body expectations.  

But the problem isn’t limited to unrealistic media imagery. We also compare ourselves to people we know – classmates, teammates, coworkers.  

We all have things we don’t like about the way we look — weight, height, skin, hair, muscularity, shape, voice, smile, style…whatever it is, it’s easy to hyperfocus on it, and to think that’s all that other people see in you as well. 

How we see ourselves, and how we think others see us, has a lot to do with how we feel day to day, fueling feelings that easily spiral into depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. To combat the negative impact that looks can have on self-esteem, the body positivity movement has gained national attention and flooded our timelines in recent years. The movement promotes being comfortable in your own skin, offering messages like “You’re beautiful just the way you are,” or “Love your imperfections.”  

This movement may feel like it’s recent, but it’s actually been around since the 1960s! To understand its true meaning, we need to go back to 1969 during the Fat Rights Movement, when a young engineer from New York named Bill Fabrey was angry about the way the world was treating his overweight wife, Joyce. He gathered a small group of people and created the National Association to Aid Fat Americans, today known as the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) to promote body positivity through community activism.  

It’s easy to preach positivity, but sometimes not so easy to truly feel it. Want to transform your life and change how you see yourself? Here are some ideas on how to embrace yourself and help others feel better as well. You deserve it – we all do!  

A Guide to Embracing Yourself 

Focus on how you feel instead of on the scale  

There is no one body type that’s ‘perfect’ or ‘healthy.’ So don’t get caught up in the numbers, or what’s in the mirror, when you are measuring the progress of your health journey. Instead, focus on how you feel physically and mentally, and remember that a number on a scale does not measure your body composition, the ratio of muscle to fat in your body, or your energy, spirits, or enjoyment of life!  

Remember to speak to a health professional you trust. They can help you better understand your body’s needs, choose healthy habits and behaviors, and set realistic goals. Understand and accept that if you do want to make changes to any aspect of your health, it will take a combination of large and small goal-setting, and a lot of commitment, patience and effort. But you can get there, especially if you have faith in yourself. And it never hurts to have good professional help in your corner! 

The numbers that we often focus on – weight, BMI, and bodyfat percentage – are each only a small part of our overall wellbeing. Check out this social experiment to see how misleading those numbers can be and how hard it can be to guess them. 

Avoid body-shaming yourself 

Focus on what you DO like about yourself and your body, rather than what you don’t. Celebrate it and play it up! Try to avoid giving voice to body-shaming thoughts or comments. Be a friend to yourself – that includes your body! 

Take care of your body 

Learn to recognize and give your body what it needs – like rest, relaxation, destressing, healthy food, and activity. Learning to love and care for yourself includes loving and caring for your body – and that starts with awareness. 

Get Inspired  

Embracing yourself includes taking time to do whatever brings you joy. Not sure where to start? Write down the things that make your heart, your mind, AND your body feel good. Look for people and activities that encourage you and build you up, both in the real and digital worlds.  Find sources of inspiration and motivation that keep you positive and help you work toward your goals. 

Use Positive Affirmations  

Despite best efforts, it’s easy to look in the mirror, give in to your insecurities and make judgments about yourself. These negative thoughts can really affect your mental health especially if they develop into a pattern of behavior which alters the way you view yourself and others.  

Positive affirmations challenge these negative thoughts by reminding you that you’re worthy, strong and beautiful. They help you remember to be kind to yourself. They say talking positively to plants helps them grow — imagine what it can do for yourself and those around you.

Here are some affirmations you can say to yourself:

  • My body is beautiful, my mind is strong.  
  • I am at peace with my body, my mind, and my life. 
  • I love myself yesterday, today and tomorrow.  

 More affirmation for every aspect of your life.  

Curate Your Social Media 

We spend 5.4 hours a day on our phones, so it’s important to be intentional about the content we consume. Social media platforms curate your feed based on content in which you show interest, and the people and organizations you engage with and follow. Review your feed and ask yourself: does this content help me mentally or physically? Does it inspire me? Does this person make me feel good about myself? 

If the answer is no, it is best to unfollow them and look for people who do.  Follow social media accounts that truly align with your life goals. Not only will this boost your self-esteem, mental health and well-being, it will help you redirect yourself toward the life and self-image you want and deserve.  

Beauty is Defined by YOU.  

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched but must be felt with the heart.” Despite Helen Keller’s sight and hearing disabilities, she felt and was constantly inspired by the beauty of the world.  

Beauty is defined by you –not by a number on a scale or by other people’s opinions. So, love and care for yourself. Your sense of confidence and conviction will not only inspire and sustain you – others will feel and respond to it as well.  

Women Who Embrace Body Positivity  

  1. Ashley Graham — The first size-16 model to land on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The supermodel quickly became an icon and example of body positivity in the fashion industry.  
  2. Lizzo – This singer and songwriter doesn’t shy away from advocating for the body positivity movement. The Grammy Award-winning artist has been open about how society judges people’s appearances, and about negativity towards plus-size women. 
  3. Estefania (Tefi) Pessoa – Famous for her TikToks about pop culture and life advice. She is known for her personality and views about the beauty industry, as she shared her struggles with an eating disorder in her teens.  
  4. Laverne Cox – You might know her from the Netflix show Orange Is The New Black. The actress and LGBTQ advocate makes it a priority to inspire others to love themselves, across all identities, shapes, and sizes.
  5.  Jules Von Hep – Influencer, podcast host and celebrity tanning expert. He’s best known as a promoter of body positivity and inclusivity in his videos.  

For more inspiring people to follow, click here.  

Need more help?  

If you or a loved one feel depressed or are having a hard time with self-image or self-esteem, consider talking to a mental health professional. Find a safe person and space in which to talk. The Bougainvilla House is here for you, with an understanding and welcoming environment for you and your family. Take that important first step and ask for help.    

The Bougainvilla House also offers Parenting Workshops to provide tools and strategies that support healthy families and nurture future generations as they grow.   

Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337. 

 

This February, Celebrate All the Relationships That Matter

3 teen girls hugging

Welcome to February, the month associated with Cupids and hearts, candy and flowers – and romance. 

The history of Valentine’s Day is murky but is thought to originate with at least two martyred Christian saints named Valentine, and may have also been an effort to transform a Roman spring fertility rite into a Christian festival.  

Today, the holiday is heavily about romantic relationships – but it’s also a great opportunity to broaden this focus. Why not use this month to celebrate love in all its forms, and strengthen all your connections with friends, family, and community? 

It’s also a good opportunity to ask yourself which relationships have occupied most of your time and focus, and which ones need and deserve some extra attention. 

Relationships of all kinds are essential to our shared human experience. Some relationships are forever, while others come into our lives just for a season – but all of them play an important and sometimes overlooked role in mental well-being.  

Better Health Channel lists three kinds of connections we typically experience with others 

  1. Intimate connections – with people who love and care about you, such as family and friends. 
  2. Relational connections – with people who you see regularly and who share an interest or activity with you, such as work colleagues, classmates, or a sports league in which you or your children participate.  
  3. Collective connections – with people who share a group membership or an affiliation with you, such as people who vote like you do, or who share the same faith.  

These social connections bolster our sense of belonging and enjoyment of life. Without question, healthy interactions of all kinds also have a positive impact on your mental health. Your most intimate connections, like your relationship with your family, deserve your best ongoing efforts to strengthen (and if you need help, that’s what TBH is here for).  

As adults, we know (and must teach our children) that good relationships of all kinds reward us with a sense of trust, connection, and satisfaction, and can lead to exciting new opportunities and experiences. All our relationships become part of who we are and help prepare us for the next chapter of our lives. They deserve the time and effort it takes to build and maintain them. 

Healthy social connections support our emotional and physical wellbeing by lowering anxiety and depression. Studies have also shown that those who enjoy positive relationships typically have higher self-esteem, greater empathy for others, and are more trusting and cooperative.   

We’ve all experienced what can happen when relationships go south – whether just two people or an entire group is involved. For relationships to work, everyone must be committed. It’s not always easy – some relationships take longer to build than others. 

How to nurture your relationships Two girls making mustaches from their hairs

Maybe you’ve moved to a new job or community, and you’d like to build new connections. Maybe you’d like to strengthen relationships that you already have. Here are five ideas to help you reach out in a meaningful way to the people in your world.

  1. Take time for the people who are important to you – It seems obvious, right? It’s amazing how taking a few minutes out of your day to check in or show someone that they’re a priority can make a difference and sustain connection – for instance, when you’re at work and your children are at school. Keep a positive, kind, and honest tone, share a moment together, and let them know you’re thinking of them.  
  2. Stay positive – Bring a calm, positive attitude to your encounters and your relationships. Look on the bright side of things, let your personality shine, and take little moments to have fun. You’ll soon see how people gravitate to someone who can make them smile.
  3. Appreciate others– Being appreciated can mean the world to someone. If you notice someone going out of their way to help you, thank them. If your co-worker did a great job, congratulate them. If your child steps in to help when you’re run off your feet, show them you noticed. Recognize the contributions of others, however small. Showing appreciation for someone’s kindness, helpfulness, or hard work makes a big difference to any relationship, whether team or individual.  
  4. It’s the little things that matter – Small words or acts of kindness really matter! Try texting an old friend to ask how they’re doing, pick up your partner’s favorite snack when they’re feeling down, or share a smile or a compliment with a stranger. You never know how much these actions can impact someone’s day.  
  5. Be available emotionally – When you know someone is going through a tough time, be there for them. You may not want to intrude during a difficult time, but it never hurts to let them know you are aware, and that you care. You can simply say, “Hi, I hope you’re okay. If you need someone to talk to just know I’m here to listen whenever you’re ready.”

These days, we conduct many of our interactions and relationships online as well as in person. It’s worth remembering that the same relationship-building principles apply, and in fact, are even more important — showing authentic interest, a positive attitude, and a willingness to listen and engage.  

As humans and social beings, the need to connect with others is part of our DNA. As a community and as parents, it’s on us to model and to teach our children the skills and sensitivity to communicate positively, to give as well as receive, and to see and sense how others react to us. Positive connection-building starts with each of us. So, take some time this month to ask yourself: How am I nurturing my relationships?  

Need More Help?  

Learning to build and maintain positive connections is challenging enough for young people, even more so if they suffer from mental health issues. A good first step is to look for a safe person and space in which to talk. The Bougainvilla House is here for you, with an understanding and welcoming environment for you and your family. Take that critical first step and ask for help if you or someone you love needs to overcome anxiety and depression or work on skills that help build strong, lasting relationships.  

The Bougainvilla House also offers Parenting Workshops to give you the tools that will support healthy families and nurture future generations as they grow.

Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337. 

2022 Family Resolutions for More (or Better) Quality Time Together

2022 is here and the “New Year, New Me” sayings are hitting social media feeds. The New Year is a reset, bringing fresh energy and motivation to do better, to try new things, and to leave unwanted habits in the past.  

No surprise, the most common New Year’s resolutions involve losing weight and getting in shape — gym membership directors love it. Saving money ranks high as well. If you’ve set goals in these areas, congratulations and go you!  

We at The Bougainvilla House are also big fans of New Year’s resolutions related to strong family relationships and mental well-being.  If you’ve been thinking about these areas of your life, consider how you can make this your focus as well! 

Parents spend a lot of time with family all year, but so much of it inevitably involves the logistics of life – meals, running errands, taxi service to practices and lessons, cleaning — not to mention work and school demands. It’s all too easy for the days to fly by despite best efforts to focus on sustaining strong, dynamic, and healthy family relationships.  

The new year offers an exciting opportunity to refocus. Here are a few ideas and suggestions for setting, enjoying, and keeping family resolutions! 

How to set family New Year resolutions  

Every family has different values and beliefs about what matters to them, so come up with resolutions that work for you. The new year is a great opportunity to sit down together and talk about what you want to accomplish, both as individuals and as a family. This also sets you up to work together to keep those resolutions all year long.  

Your goals can be big and small-scale, serious and fun, creative or mundane – and above all, unique —just like your family.  

Family Resolutions that work for everyone.  

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas that may be good starting points for families looking to improve their quality time together.  

1. Less screen time– You may already be doing this, but if you aren’t monitoring your family’s screen time (including your own), now is a good time to start.

Technology is the ultimate easy children’s entertainment and Facebook does an excellent job at keeping you on the app, but it’s stealing your kids’ time and your own. On average, an 8- to 12-year-old in the United States now use screens for entertainment for 4 hours, 44 minutes a day, and 13- to 18-year-olds are on screens for 7 hours, 22 minutes each day, as reported in 2018 by the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media. When you add it up, that’s a lot of hours your family could spend together without screens!

 If you find this resolution too challenging for your kids, try setting their devices to a max screen time per day. This way, the device will automatically enforce your agreed-upon screen-time limits. Set an example yourself too! You’ll be surprised at the amount of free time you have. Learn how to set limited screen time here. 

2. Family exercise – If your goal is to exercise more often, take advantage of our beautiful Florida winters to plan walks or bike rides on a trail or around the neighborhood. Plan a day and time to go (and maybe a Plan B) to help you set and maintain a routine.

If you don’t have a lot of time, start small. Even a 10 – 20-minute walk is more than enough to get started. Remember that it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit and an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. Don’t be intimidated by these numbers –habits take time. It’s worth it!

3. Schedule family activities – Family time is important, so schedule it just like soccer practice, piano lessons, and date nights with your partner.

Family time can be anything you all want it to be — playing board games, visiting a park, watching a movie, cooking together, or taking a weekend getaway. There are so many ways your family can bond and make memories that will last your lifetime and your children’s. Have fun thinking about the kinds of things you love to do together!

4. One on One time – As much as family time is important, so is one-on-one time with each of your family members. Regular ‘dates’ with each child become fun, much-anticipated events and great opportunities to connect with each child. Plan a lunch at their favorite restaurant, go bowling, or just enjoy an ice cream date. If they like playing video games, join them in the game. 

As you enjoy time together, it’s also a great chance to check in with your child and to just enjoy them as they grow.  

We hope these ideas spark more than a few of your own – but don’t overdo it!  Start off with one or two and add more later in the year once you’ve made progress on the ones you consider to be most important.  

It’s okay to take a break!  

We understand that new habits are challenging to maintain. If you’re feeling discouraged, or if things pop up at the last minute (and they will), don’t stress. It’s okay to take a break. The point is to set goals as a family, keep trying to meet them, and enjoy the journey together along the way!  

Need More Help? 

If you or your family are struggling with mental health issues, look for a safe person and space in which to talk. The Bougainvilla House is here for you, with an understanding and welcoming environment for you and your family. Take that critical first step and ask for help to overcome anxiety and depression and reconnect to the life you want to live (or that you want for someone you love). 

Call now to find support that works for you and your family: (954) 764-7337. 

The Real Meaning of Self-Care

Hotels advertise spa days. The beauty industry promotes a face mask. Airlines promote relaxing “getaways.” New apps seem to pop up every day.  

Self-care has become a trending topic over the last few years, and many products and services are promoted as helpful (even essential) to good self-care. Amid all this advertising, it can be easy to forget the real meaning behind the idea.  

Self-care is the practice of restorative activities that protect your own well-being and happiness, particularly in times of stress. It is all about how you care for your own physical and mental wellness. 

Research suggests self-care promotes positive health outcomes such as fostering resilience, living longer, and becoming better equipped to manage stress – one of the biggest threats to our physical and mental well-being. 

Stress can be caused by our thoughts, our choices, and even what we put in our body. An excess of sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods can all contribute to stress or make it more difficult to manage. Stress affects our energy levels as well as our emotional health, so it is essential that our self-care practices help us manage and reduce it. 

4 Restorative Self-Care Activities for Every Day  

Practice these activities daily for help restoring your energy, improving your decision making, and deepening your relationship with yourself and others:  

1. Take a moment of silence – In times of stress, your internal voice may be loud, critiquing your performance and reminding you of the tasks that must be done. Quiet your inner voice by taking a moment of silence or practicing meditation. Find a comfortable spot in your house where you are not likely to be disturbed. Then, for at least five minutes, breathe deeply and try to calm your mind, focusing on your breath or consciously relaxing different parts of your body. Meditative activities like this can put your mind at ease and allow your negative inner voice to slowly disappear. 

2.Maintain a Healthy Diet – It is important to understand how food choices affect your mind as well as your body. A diet of healthy food will reduce your mood fluctuations, giving you an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus, says Dr. Cora, a board-certified psychiatrist. Try to reduce how often you eat highly processed foods, and instead fill your stomach with mostly fruits, vegetables, and complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa.

3.Move – Our bodies are meant to move! Walking, running, jumping, working out, dancing, and any other form of exercise are all activities that produce endorphins. These “feel-good” chemicals help us cope with pain and stress and can be a happiness booster. You don’t need a gym to help you exercise. An area in your house – or an open area outdoors — is all you need to get moving. Your body and your stress levels can benefit from as little as 10 minutes of exercise every day. 

4.Go Outside – Registered psychologist Dr. Lynne M. Kostiuk reminds us that humans have a deeply ingrained need to feel connected to the natural world. Unfortunately, our tendency to spend long hours inside and in front of the computer can make anyone feel disconnected from nature. Studies have shown that being outdoors has the power to lift your mood and lower anxiety. So, next time you find yourself with a free afternoon…go outside! A walk around the neighborhood, visiting a park, or going to the beach are just a few possible activities. 

Self-Care Inspiration to Help You Stay Motivated 

The more you practice self-care, the better it will be for your health. Just a few minutes in a day can change your outlook on life.  

If you need a little extra inspiration to start (or continue) good self-care habits, here are some YouTubers, books, and documentaries to help you.  

YouTubers  

  1. muchelleB – Michelle is an Australian YouTuber. Her videos are guidelines to self-development, self-care, goal setting, and intentional living. She will motivate you to create routines and habits and stick to them
  2. Hey Fran Hey – Francheska is a wellness influencer, YouTuber, and podcaster who shares tips on DIY beauty, natural hair care, mental and emotional hygiene, nutrition, and fitness; all with a bohemian twist. 
  3. Lavendaire- Aileen Xu advocates personal growth and development for creatives, dreamers, and artists alike. Her videos focus on goal setting, vision boards, decluttering challenges, and financial planning advice. 

Books 

  1. Breath by James Nestor: What you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are — none of it matters as much if you’re not breathing properly. Drawing on thousands of years of medical texts and recent cutting-edge studies, Breath turns the conventional wisdom of what we thought we knew about our most basic biological function on its head. You will never breathe the same again.
  2. Silence by Erling Kagge – In 1993, Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge took a solo trip across Antarctica for fifty days. He was the first person to ever reach the South Pole alone, with only a battery-less radio for company. The long journey was life changing for Kagge, and in this book, he shares his experiences and findings while exploring the true meaning of solitude. He shows us why silence is essential to our health and overall happiness, and how it has the power to change the way we view the world.

Netflix Documentaries 

  1. Fed Up – Fed Up” shows the damaging effects of sugar and how important it is to reduce or eliminate it for the overall betterment of your health. It will inspire you to look closer into what goes into the foods you eat and make positive changes to your health.
  2. Hungry For Change – Hungry For Change” shines a light on the damage that comes from following a modern processed diet and the amazing changes that come when you reintroduce your body to real, whole foods.
  3. Happy – This documentary looks at what really makes people happy. From people who live in slums to the swamps of Louisiana you will learn how our society’s definition of “happiness” might be giving us a skewed idea of what really leads to true joy.  

Need More Help?  

If stress is becoming more prominent in your life and you need additional support, The Bougainvilla House can help. The Bougainvilla House offers free weekly webinars on topics like de-stressing, managing anxiety, and more. Sign up for our next webinar here: https://thebougainvillahouse.com/event-gallery/webinars/