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3 Small Ways to Start Treating Your Body With Grace

It’s all too easy for us to get caught up in the pressure of our fast-moving lives. We spend so much time on the metaphorical hamster wheel, running and running at full speed, that sometimes, the idea of taking a break or slowing down can seem downright impossible. And when you’re juggling a stressful professional life, a busy personal life, and trying to hit your workout goals, you might end each day feeling exhausted and fully spent.

Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily – but it’s important to take time to appreciate everything your body does and understand when you need to take a break. Moreover, showing your body gratitude is an essential part of building a healthy relationship with your body. Here are a few small ways to start treating your body (and yourself) with grace.

Practice positive self-talk

We’re often our own harshest critics. But in order to improve our relationship with our body, it’s important to start practicing positive self-talk. Self-talk is the running internal narrative going on within your head, 24/7; yes, it’s literally talking to yourself (just maybe not out loud all of the time). Positive self-talk, then, is the inner monologue that makes you feel good about yourself and reminds you of your own positive attributes. And the benefits of positive self-talk are many: increased life span, greater resistance to illness, and better coping skills, to name a few.

To practice positive self-talk, try this: For one day, keep a running journal of the self-talk that runs through your head, dividing your own comments into “positive” or “negative.” Take note of which column has more comments. Going forward, make a concentrated effort to adjust negative self-talk to positive. For example, instead of thinking, “I’m such a wimp, I can’t believe I couldn’t complete that workout,” try reframing in your head to “My body clearly needs to rest today, and I’m grateful that I recognized that and gave my body what it needs.”

Practice your mind-body connection

We’ve touched on the mind-body connection before. But for this specific purpose, practice tuning into how your body feels on a daily basis, learning how to isolate different body parts and assess what feels great, what’s achy, and what might need a little extra attention. By doing so, you’ll become more efficient at giving your body what it’s craving, whether that’s a slow flow yoga class or a quick run outdoors. When you meet yourself where you are, you can improve your relationship with your body.

One great way to develop this connection is a body-scan meditation. This type of meditation helps you tune into your body by asking you to focus on one body part at a time and notice any sensations you’re feeling without judgment. Body scan meditations have been shown to help decrease anxiety, improve sleep, and treat chronic pain as well. Meditation apps like Calm, Insight Timer, and Headspace will all have these, and you can find them for free on YouTube too.

Learn to accept your need for rest

We get it: you’re a driven, go-go-go type person who barely has time to sit down, let alone truly rest. However, rest is an essential part of improving our relationship with our body, because resting allows us to more fully embrace everything our body can do. Plus, allowing rest means you’re not pushing yourself to the max until your body finally gives out (which isn’t a sustainable way to live, anyway).

There are a few different ways to make intentional rest a part of your daily routine. You can try building an extra ten minutes into your workout for light stretching our meditation. Or, plan one rest day per week that includes a light activity that enhances recovery – like a slow walk in nature or a long foam rolling session. Finally, notice how you feel when you do make room for rest. Are you more energized the next day? Do you appreciate having the time and space for other activities? Remember these feelings and remind yourself of them the next time you try to “push through” a tough time.