Today's insightful blog post is written by guest Paula Drakeford, Women's Mindset Coach and Yoga and Fitness Teacher.
It was early Summer 2000 walking along the beach in Margate, when a friend remarked “Paula you always look like you're happy in your own skin”. I’d never really heard this expression before. I thanked her, replying thoughtfully “I guess I am mostly”. Later that evening I reflected upon this comment, how I felt about it and what it meant to me.
At the time I had just turned 30. I’d spent my early 20’s constrained by agoraphobia. By my mid 20’s, I could at least become part of society yet suffered at times with severe social anxiety. Outwardly I may have presented as a happy, self-assured woman yet I was often stressed, overthinking, trying to be perfect and worrying what others thought of me. Physically I often had tension headaches, sore shoulders, and neck. I frowned so much I developed those two lines between the eyebrows. And worse I was often sick or getting into accidents.
Fast forward 20 years, now age 50. I wish I could talk with that same friend to reflect on each other’s life journey. She sadly passed some years ago, but I would say to her ‘I AM mostly happy in my own skin’. I have a more self-awareness, more confidence and loving self-acceptance. I may not be able to talk with my friend, but I can share what’s helped me over the years and may help you too.
We all know how diet and exercise is important to promote health, youth and vitality. More than that though is what we think and feel about ourselves. Our mindset and our connection to our body is so important for full healthy expression, confidence, and youthful outlook.
We cannot become happy in our body if we are disconnected from it. Disassociated from ‘innate wisdom of our bodies. Far beyond age, ‘looks or our various shapes and sizes but the living, feeling body. Stress, tension, overwhelm, and excess mental activity are drowning out our feeling. We no longer notice our bodily sensations as they attempt to arise within our being’ (The wild woman’s way. Michaela Boehm). Your body has wisdom, a source of intuition and feeling which when attended to will increase your ability to discern and respond to life experiences more authentically.
My name is Paula and I’m a women’s mindset coach and teach Yoga and Dance fitness. From my own personal experience, study, observation, and feedback from the women I’ve worked with, the following five tips are ways to create a deeper connection with your body and mind.
5 tips to becoming ‘Happy in your own skin’.
1. Explore what your body feels like.
When was the last time you touched your body in a loving way? The next time you put your face and body lotion on, don’t rush it. Take the time to discover how different areas feel to touch. Explore your body, without judgement and practice sending love to the areas of your body you dislike.
2. Your breath tells a story.
Two to three times daily ask yourself how am I breathing? This helps you to tap into your emotional state. If you're feeling anxious or stressed your breath is likely to be rapid and shallow. Feeling upset? You may be holding and breathing irregularly.
Try this technique to soothe and ease your breathing and emotional state.
Lengthen your exhale. Your next exhale breath out fully until you are completely empty. Then allow a natural inhale through the nose. Exhale through the nose. Breathe in slowly through the nose to a count of 4. Make your exhale longer, breathe out to a count of 6. Do this for 2-5 mins.
Deepen this practice further with mindful body connection by placing one hand on your heart and the other on your abdomen. Notice the rise and fall of the belly and expansion and contraction of the ribcage. Feel the sensation of the breath in and out of your nostrils.
Find new ways to move. Explore activities which encourage the mind -body connection. Try Rhythmically moving your hips to your favourite music or take a Belly dance lesson. Walk barefoot on the grass or take up Yoga. When we become truly present in the moment, in our body we become aware of aches and pains and where we store tension. This information we can use to make lifestyle adjustments, practice self-care and attend to our physical and emotional needs before illness and disease sets in.
4. Dress in a meaningful way.
I get it, we are busy. Sometimes practicality and comfort inform our choices about what to wear. Consider how you feel when you dress in those special clothes? Honour and celebrate your body by dressing in a way which makes you feel confident, happy and fabulous!
5. Check your Attitude.
What’s going on inside shows on the outside. Negative thinking and reacting is stressful and creates tension in the body. Understand you are not what you think about, what you believe. This is perception based on your experiences. Of the 800.00 to 100.00 thoughts daily, much are repetitive, yet we tend to attach a truth to these thought patterns and believe they are part of our identity.
Our thoughts and feelings are connected. I invite you to become curious the next time you have an emotional response to a thought or perceived experience. Explore where your thoughts, beliefs and values come from. Can you look at the experience a different way? Don’t be afraid to seek help. Talk to a wise and trusted friend or relative. Use a mindset coach or therapist. Listen to podcasts or read books. Try ‘You are a Badass! How to stop doubting yourself and start living an awesome life’ by Jen Sincero. An approach to help you understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can't change, how to change what you don't love.
‘The Wild Woman’s Way. Unlock your full potential for pleasure, power and fulfilment by Michaela Boehm. In this book you will discover how to create and enjoy a pleasure-filled and meaningful life
Final note: If you want to feel happier in your body then I hope my tips give you some ideas. Try different things to find out what works for you. When you are happy within yourself it radiates and people will notice, be inspired and perhaps comment ‘you look happy in your own skin!
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