This is a topic I think we should talk about more – it’s good to talk! How do you think and feel about your body? Being a “body positive” health & fitness coach, my aim is to teach people to love their bodies unconditionally for what it does for them throughout their lives. To name just a few:

  • It pumps and cleans blood
  • It fights infection
  • It produces energy
  • It produces babies (for some of us)
  • It sends nerve impulses

We need to be for thankful to our bodies and give gratitude, rather than look at it and not like things we see like those bingo wings, or little tummy overhang, or wrinkles or cellulite. Look for the good and not the bad.

Last year the Mental Health Foundation found that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. That’s almost 1 in every 3 people!. Body image issues can affect all of us at any age and directly impact our mental health. We need to be aware of what we say in front of our children and learn to see the good things about our bodies, especially for what they DO for us.

Last year I went to see a documentary called Embrace, in which body image activist Taryn Brumfitt explores the serious issue of body loathing, inspiring us to change the way we feel about ourselves and think about our bodies. It all started when Taryn posted this picture on Facebook and messages went VIRAL!

I went to watch it at the Wimbledon Library with around 150 other women and about 3 men. By the end of it, most of the room were in tears. I urge you to watch it and please show it to your children, especially if they are teenagers. It’s available for download on itunes from their website. I urge you to watch it, especially with your daughters and/or sons.

So what can we do to help ourselves and our mental health?

5 steps to mental wellbeing

Evidence suggests there are 5 steps we can all take to improve our mental well being. Why not give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from life, which is what we all want, right??
  • Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues, gym buddies and neighbours. Spend time developing and nurturing these relationships.
  • Be active – you don’t have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play your favourite sport. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life. You can join a new club and make some new friends.
  • Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or sign up for a short course?
  • Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
  • Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Sign up to Headspace for a free 10 day trial or join a local Yoga class.

Research what there is on offer in your local community. For those of you who live in Merton, London, Merton Uplift is a free integrated Primary Care Mental Health Service accessible to anyone living in the borough of Merton or registered with a Merton GP who are 18 years and over. They support anyone who has a mental health or well being need, whether it’s due to emotional difficulties or life stress. They also offer a service for people with a stable mental health diagnosis such as psychosis and Bipolar Affective disorder. Please don’t suffer alone!