So there are many things you can do to help promote a better body image after baby. But to remember these are practices. It's not going to be an instantaneous, I feel better. It's something that you need to work on every day.
So the first thing is that a negative body image usually comes from us focusing on the parts of our body that we don't like, that we're not happy with, that look different after baby. So instead, if we put more of the focus - this is a conscious effort - to put our thoughts and focus on parts of our body that we do like, or the parts of our body that we appreciate it for.
So Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist, talked about this phenomenon called self-directed neuroplasticity. And what that means is that basically if you can push yourself to focus on a positive thought for 10 seconds or more each day you can actually lead yourself to thinking more positively. You're actually changing your brain.
So one of the things you can do is every day, simply focus on a part of your body that you appreciate, or that you do like. And keep that thought or that experience in mind for 10 seconds or more every day. And you will start to have a better body image.
So the next thing is on the category of thoughts, oftentimes a negative body image is caused by negative thoughts. It's what we're walking around with in our head all day, what we're saying to ourselves. So one of the keys to having a more positive body image is try to pay attention and observe those thoughts. See if you can catch yourself being critical. So you if you can see yourself in your head saying, oh I don't look good in that. Or oh, my stomach looks so huge. If you can observe that thought, then you can stop it. Then you have the power to add in what I call a coping statement.
So maybe a statement like, I'm doing the best I can. I just had a baby. Or my body doesn't have to be perfect. It's fine just the way it is. I'm perfectly imperfect. Something like that can help you to recognize how negative you're being, which is going to cause a drop in mood and depression. And help you reframe that to something more positive.
A third thing you can do, which is a great little exercise that I ask all my moms to do when I teach is to write a thank you letter to your body. Your relationship with your body should be like a friendship. And if we're being really critical of our bodies, we're not treating our bodies like a very good friend. So writing a letter and thanking your body for what you do appreciate about your body. You just carried and delivered a baby. Your body did that.
Your body is now helping you take care of this baby. So sitting down and actually writing a letter like you would to a friend and saying everything you appreciate about your body can really help you change your perspective.
And lastly, another thing that you can do is to talk about how you're feeling. And confide in your partner and your friends and your family. Ask them if there's a way that they could help you with the negative body image. For example, sometimes it's a huge help for partners to tell the woman that they look good. That they still find them attractive. That they're beautiful. Hearing that from your partner can make a big difference. Also asking friends and family to point out when they hear you being really critical of yourself. That can help you to go oh, okay. And reframe and be more positive.