Having endometriosis can have a profound impact on our relationship with our body. If you want to learn more about why that is, check out the blog post Endometriosis and Body Image.
Many people that have challenging body image talk about feeling stuck. They feel like there is no way out. The good news is that improving our relationship with our body IS possible. Even with one or many chronic conditions.
Does that mean it will be perfect and you will never struggle with negative body image again? No, unfortunately not.
Healing Body Image is Like Couples’ Counselling Between You and Your Body
Instead, think about your relationship with your body like any other relationship. You wouldn’t expect to go to couples counselling and never have challenges in your relationship again. You might expect to go in, open up the lines of communication and learn skills for managing difficulties. Ultimately, you would hope to develop a more connected and respectful relationship with each other.
Healing body image is very similar. It’s not a destination, where you can expect to feel positive in your body all of the time. It’s a process in which you re-open the lines of communication with your body and begin to build understanding. You learn skills to manage the harder days, and all the while the harder days become less frequent and less intense. Just like you would with a loved one, you work toward building a more connected and respectful relationship with your body.
The Road to Reconnection
There is often a reason why you may have disconnected from your body in the first place. Sometimes we disconnect as a way to feel in control of our body that feels out of control. Some people do this by controlling their food intake, exercise routine or weight. Sometimes we disconnect as a way to numb from the symptoms that we weren’t receiving any treatment for at the time.
Reconnecting to a body that experiences symptoms of endometriosis can be scary AND it can be a powerful tool for healing.
Top Tips for Healing Body Image:
1. Think about what activities bring you the most joy. What are you doing when you feel like you’re in flow? Examples of these include singing, playing music, yoga, painting or gaming. How are you feeling in your body in those moments? When we’re doing something that we love, we’re often EMBODIED. Being embodied is when we’re in and with our body in the moment. Make a list of what activities help you to feel embodied. Is there an opportunity to do these more or experience the same feeling during other activities?
2. If you use social media, start by following body inclusive accounts that you find inspiring. Next, unfollow accounts that leave you feeling worse about yourself. Each time you see a new post, ask yourself, “does this fill or empty my cup?” Use your answer as a guide for whether you hit that unfollow button.
3. Show your body respect by wearing clothes you feel comfortable in. Go through your wardrobe to find the clothes that you can breathe easy in, that feel nice and you like the look of. Bring these to the front.
4. Work toward getting rid of the scale. The aim is to be relying more on our internal wisdom and less on external measures. You can start by reducing the frequency with which you weigh yourself if getting rid of your scale straight away feels too scary.
5. Seek support from a mental health professional and, if your relationship with food is involved, a nutrition professional with additional training in supporting body image.
6. It’s ok to take it slow. Healing takes time.
Nadia Maxwell, non-diet dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counsellor