Body neutrality: What is it and 12 tips to practice it

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    Be at peace with your body and focus on body neutrality. Read on to know the meaning of body neutrality and how to practice it.

    Body positivity encourages people to love their body irrespective of size and shape. There is also body neutrality that aims to create a comprehensive understanding of the body’s role in our lives. It helps to promote self-acceptance and is rooted in functionality rather than aesthetics. It is about taking a neutral stance towards your body. That means that you neither support the hatred aimed at your body’s limitations nor do you make efforts to love it. We tell you how to practice body neutrality and what makes it different from body positivity.

    What is body neutrality?

    Body neutrality is a holistic mindset that extends beyond merely acknowledging the body as a part of our larger selves. It encourages individuals to embrace their bodies as vessels capable of various functions and experiences, explains clinical psychologist Dhanya Chandran. This approach involves recognising the body’s resilience, strength, and adaptability, fostering a deeper connection to one’s physical self while intentionally steering away from societal expectations and judgments related to appearance.

    Body positivity and body neutrality are different. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

    Body neutrality vs body positivity

    Body positivity champions the development of a positive body image across diverse physical attributes. Body neutrality, on the other hand, takes a nuanced approach by shifting the narrative from appearance to function.

    Body neutrality encourages individuals to appreciate their bodies for what they can do, emphasising capabilities and functionality rather than conforming to societal standards of beauty. This distinction allows for a more inclusive perspective on self-acceptance, accommodating a broader range of experiences and perceptions related to one’s body.

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    What are the ways to practice body neutrality?

    By fostering acceptance and reducing the societal pressures associated with achieving an ‘ideal’ body, individuals practicing body neutrality tend to have lower levels of stress, anxiety and body dissatisfaction, says the expert. Here’s what to do:

    1. Practice mindfulness

    Practice mindfulness by finding a quiet space, sitting or lying down comfortably, and paying attention to your breath. During meditation, focus on inhaling and exhaling, allowing thoughts to come and go without getting caught up in them. Try to bring mindfulness into your daily activities like eating or walking, by being fully present in each moment, suggests Chandran. Regular practice helps deepen your connection with the present and enhances self-awareness.

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    2. Exercises for enhancing body awareness

    Enroll in tai chi or yoga classes regularly, providing essential guidance on postures and movements for effective and safe practice. Consistent attendance ensures you build a solid foundation in these mindful exercises. During exercises, consciously align your body, feel muscles engage, and sync breath. This intentional focus elevates your mind-body connection, fostering a heightened awareness of your physical self.

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    3. Reflect

    Dedicate time to journaling thoughts about your body, acknowledging and understanding patterns of self-criticism. Reflecting on your inner dialogue fosters self-awareness, a crucial step towards self-acceptance. You should develop and regularly repeat personalised affirmations to counteract negative thoughts, says the expert. By consciously affirming your worth and embracing positive self-talk, you cultivate a mindset of self-acceptance and positivity. Over time, this practice can reshape your self-perception and contribute to improved mental well-being.

    4. Eat intuitively

    Engage all senses while eating – appreciating flavours and textures. Mindful eating fosters a deeper connection with your meals, allowing you to savour each bite and cultivate a more intentional relationship with food. This practice promotes healthier eating habits and a mindful approach to nourishing your body.

    5. Keep a food journal

    Track hunger and fullness, gaining valuable insights into your body’s nutritional needs. A food journal helps you understand your eating patterns, facilitating informed choices and supporting a balanced and intuitive approach to nutrition.

    6. Don’t be part of diet trends

    Grasp the principles of intuitive eating, emphasising the need to be in tune with your body’s signals. Understanding your body’s cues and responding to them promotes a more sustainable and balanced approach to nutrition, moving away from restrictive dieting. You can take advice from a dietitian, who can provide tailored guidance, considering your unique needs and preferences, contributing to a positive and nourishing relationship with food.

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    Don’t focus on weight loss. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

    7. Focus on healthy living rather than weight loss

    Rather than just focusing on weight loss, establish specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound goals related to fitness and nutrition. Such goals provide a clear roadmap, helping you track progress and celebrate achievements.

    8. Work on self-enhancement rather than body enhancement

    Regularly evaluate personal and professional growth areas to foster continual development. Self-assessment enables you to identify strengths and areas for improvement, guiding your journey towards personal fulfillment. Outline actionable steps in a personal development plan, concentrating on skill acquisition and meaningful life goals. This proactive approach to self-enhancement ensures you have a roadmap for personal growth, contributing to a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

    9. Avoid using filters on photos or social media posts

    Share authentic images, resisting societal pressures and promoting genuine online connections. Embracing your true self in photos fosters authenticity, contributing to a positive online presence.

    10. Use clothes, accessories and cosmetics based on your liking

    Build a wardrobe with comfortable and confidence-boosting items, minimising decision fatigue. A simple wardrobe tailored to your preferences simplifies your daily routine and enhances your overall sense of well-being. Experiment with makeup and accessories to showcase your unique style. Expressing your individuality through fashion and personal style can be a powerful form of self-expression and self-confidence.

    11. Compliment people and yourself for qualities rather than looks

    Appreciate character strengths and achievements in yourself and others. Focusing on qualities beyond physical appearance cultivates a positive and supportive mindset, says the expert. Acknowledge personal growth beyond appearance, fostering a positive self-view through regular affirmations.

    12. Prioritise self-care routines

    Schedule moments for self-care activities, like meditation or nature walks, promoting overall well-being. Allocating dedicated time for self-care ensures that you prioritise your mental and physical health.

    You should know that achieving body neutrality is a gradual process, so take your own sweet time.

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