Christmas is one of the most magical times of year for many but with the festivities in full swing, the festive period can be challenging for some. Whether you are looking to dress to impress for a Christmas party or struggling to stay away from the never ending supply of Christmas treats, Christmas can put a large amount of pressure on individuals to look a certain way.
With this in mind, Lovehoney has partnered with experts to reveal how you can be more body positive this Christmas and enjoy the festivities without the guilt.
What is body positivity and should we be aiming for body neutrality?
Body positivity activist Lindsay Mcglone states: ‘Body positivity is a movement that reinforces that all body types should be treated equally, especially those who own marginalised bodies. Body positivity enables us to be vocal for other bodies that differ from our own and ensure that we continue to respect and lift up those who are marginalised. Body positivity is often mistaken for body confidence. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the benefits of body positivity, it just means that we need to maintain the meaning of it and why it started. We can’t love and respect our own bodies until we do that for others.’
Ruth Micallef, an MBACP registered psychotherapist described the importance of body neutrality: ‘When we focus on what our body can do on any given day, rather than simply being positive about what it looks like. This can be as simple as finding gratitude for being able to lift a shopping bag, walk to the front door, play with a child, navigate our wheelchair.’
How does this time of year affect our relationship with our bodies?
Lindsay adds: ‘At Christmas time although it’s a time filled with celebration it’s also a time filled with unrealistic expectations of what our bodies should look like after Christmas, there is also the idea linked that certain foods should carry guilt.’
‘There is also significant emphasis on consumption and that “perfect” Christmas outfit that can create added stress to the way we see ourselves. The pressure advertisements and social media can catapult the way we think we should look in a sparkly outfit, there needs to be more diversity within Christmas campaigns.’
Ruth states: ‘Christmas is a very ‘emotionally inflated’ time of year with a huge amount of expectation on one day. This can often lead us to compare, being shamed by others, or simply feeling lonely or disappointed. It can be very easy to project these feelings onto our bodies.’
‘It’s also apt to remember that many brands will attempt to make you feel bad, to buy their “magic bullet” product that you don’t need! No time do we feel this more than around Christmas and New Year. For anyone struggling with food, body image, or exercise, the food and family filled activities can feel overwhelming.’
5 Tips for feeling more bodyneutral this Christmas
- Crush comparison. Stop comparison in its tracks. It absolutely is true that comparison is the thief of joy, so when you feel it rearing its head, step away, and instead consider what in your life actually allows you contentment.
- Practise simple gratitude. Every day, take a few minutes in the morning or evening to consider what your body can or did do, and why you’re grateful for that. This building block of positive psychology can be more powerful than you realise.
- Say no. Learning to say no can be incredibly pivotal, especially around Christmas. Say no to the event you don’t fancy, spending time with people that you don’t really like or connect with, or simply say no to engaging in the unnecessary excessive consumption of Christmas.
- Try body-connecting activities. Whether it be mindfulness, simple breathing exercises, stretching, or even just a walk in green space, these activities allow us to disengage from the inner critic in our mind.
- Allow feelings to process and pass. We don’t feel positive all the time, and that’s absolutely OK. Rather than suppressing difficult emotions with toxic positivity, instead, recognise the emotion, identify where it began, and slowly allow it to pass. All of your feelings allow space and time.