There’s no doubt about it: journaling is good for your health.
Journaling is a deeply therapeutic and healing exercise, especially during life’s more challenging moments. Mari L. McCarthy’s book, Mindset Medicine, shines a bright light on what it’s like to love yourself unconditionally. She describes journaling as a process of uncovering the “issues in your tissues,” warts and all.
Much like the self-love movement, body positivity has gained momentum in recent years. This movement challenges the way we’ve traditionally viewed health, rejecting the use of weight as the gold standard for measuring well-being.
The article explores how body positivity journaling can improve your relationship with your body, and in turn improve your health
What is Body Positivity?
At its core, body positivity is about loving yourself unconditionally.
A quick search for the hashtag #BoPo (an abbreviation for “body positivity”) on social media will render images of inspirational quotes and photos that promote unconditional body acceptance.
The Body Positive Institute defines body positivity as giving yourself permission to love and care for your body without judgement. Similarly, the Health at Every Size® (HAES®) movement has a mission of supporting body size acceptance, putting an end to weight discrimination, eliminating society’s obsession with weight loss and thinness.
Here are a few basic tenets of the body positivity movement:
· Accepting all bodies, regardless of shape, size, or ability
· Challenging unrealistic body standards and the glamorization of thinness
· Embracing perceived imperfections and flaws
· Loving yourself unconditionally
· Developing a healthy relationship with your body
· Honoring your body with nourishing foods and regular movement
Put simply, body positivity is about accepting and respecting your body without regard to its shape or size.
And journaling can help you establish body positivity.
Body Positivity and Your Health
Therapeutic journaling can help you establish a healthier relationship with your body.
By uncovering your deeply held beliefs about your body shape, size, and abilities, you can explore where they originated. Many of the beliefs you hold may have been hidden, and the process of journaling can help you peel back the layers and discover the truth.
One misconception about body positivity is that it’s used to justify unhealthy lifestyle choices. This simply isn’t true. Proponents of the body positivity movement strongly support healthy eating, regular physical activity, and preventive health care.
The difference lies in their approach.
Many well-meaning health care professionals have historically used shame and guilt to coerce patients with larger bodies to lose weight, often using extremely unhealthy methods.
But the number on the scale has no right to tell you how to feel.
Your thoughts ultimately determine how you feel about yourself. When you’re able to sort through the layers of your thoughts and beliefs, you can reevaluate them one by one.
Within the pages of your journal, you can find relief from the unfounded criticisms and judgements that have robbed you of joy and happiness over the course of your life.
That’s just one of the reasons journaling is so powerful—you get to change your thoughts on the blank pages of your journal.
How to Incorporate Body Positivity into Your Journaling Practice
As you weave new elements of body positivity into your journaling practice, you’ll begin to view your body differently.
You’ll have more grace for yourself.
You’ll see that your body is uniquely beautiful, and that it supports you all day, every day.
And over time, you may even begin to forgive yourself for all the unhealthy ways you’ve treated yourself in the past.
Honoring your body is about accepting it “as is” rather than relentlessly trying to change it. Body acceptance can be an incredibly empowering experience.
And journaling can help with that process.
Journaling is a form of self-care that helps you embrace your imperfections and focus your attention instead on nurturing your mind, body, and spirit in a more holistic way.
Your journaling experience will be unique to you.
As you begin to spend more time in your journal, you may find that it stirs up past memories, some of which may be painful. If this happens, you may find it helpful to enlist a variety of self-care strategies that you can use in conjunction with your journaling practice.
Some forms of self-care that may help you process and manage your emotional energy include:
· Spending time in nature
· Meeting with a therapist
Focus on the types of self-care that are most effective in helping you manage intense emotional energy that bubbles up as you journal your way to healing.
When you no longer feel that you need to “change” your body, and instead look for ways to love and support it in a healthier way, you’ll experience your life in a whole new way. As you gain new insights through your journaling practice, you’ll reconnect your mind and body build more self-confidence and begin to trust your intuition.
Through your journaling practice, you’ll retrain your brain to see your perceived flaws as nothing more than characteristics that make you uniquely who you are.
Body Positivity Journal Prompts
Developing body positivity takes time. It requires a commitment to digging deep to uncover your beliefs and a willingness to uproot them and begin again.
Your pen is a powerful instrument that can dramatically improve your well-being.
If you need some ideas to begin journaling for body positivity, here are some journal prompts to help you get started:
· How has social media affected your perceptions about your body?
· What do you love about your body?
· What was your first negative experience related to your body?
· How do you feel about your body shape or size?
· Where in your body do you feel tension or strain?
· Describe a time when you felt good about your body.
· I am grateful for my body because…
· What do you wish you could change about your body? Why?
· How does your body support you?
· How does your body bring you joy?
· How can you nourish your body in a healthy way?
· How has your body protected you?
· Describe yourself.
· Right now, what I need the most is…
· Describe your relationship with food.
· Describe your relationship with movement (physical activity).
· In what ways do you support your body through self-care?
· When I think about my body, I think about…
· What would life be like if you accepted your body “as is”?
· What does body positivity mean to you personally?
Body positivity journaling is a powerful tool that you can use to repair your relationship with your body. By connecting the dots between your thoughts and beliefs, you can unload negative feelings and judgements, and create more space for self-love.
How you see yourself affects every area of your life.
It may take time to cultivate a more positive self-image, but it may also be one of the most loving things you’ll ever do for yourself.
Download the Love Your Body in 28 Days course and begin your body positivity journey today.
Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as providing or replacing medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Author bio: STACY FISHER, RDN, LD, CDCES is the founder of LivingUpp, a lifestyle design company that teaches women how to use a self-care planning system to create more ease and better health. She is a registered dietitian and lifestyle coach with 20+ years of experience in the healthcare industry, where she’s worked with large companies such as Dell, Boeing, and Nike. Stacy is the author of The Lifestyle Design Planner, a flexible life organizer for high-achievers who value self-care and simplicity.