‘Summer body’ is for every body

How to ditch this term and start feeling good

With summer upon us, the annual bombardment of “summer body” messaging is in full swing, and that can negatively affect our perception of ourselves.

The key to combatting the harmful feelings that may rise up this season is to go inward.

“We all know that this pressure of looking a certain way is harmful to our mental and physical health and overall well-being, says Tara Stiles, founder of Strala Yoga and author of Clean Mind, Clean Body: A 28 Day Plan for Physical, Mental and Spiritual Self-Care.

“It’s helpful to frame feelings we know as harmful as bad habits that we want to change. It’s impossible to change all the messaging we feel we are inundated with, but we can change how we feel about ourselves. When we change how we feel about ourselves, our confidence picks up and we aren’t as triggered by every message we see from the outside.”

To focus on how you feel – and to feel better – Stiles offers these tips:

“Take a moment to soften, breathe deep and literally ask yourself how you want to feel. Maybe it’s calm, excited, energized, happy, strong or something else. For sure it’s not insecure, pressured, not good enough, et cetera. When you focus on how you want to feel, you’re making that feeling a part of you, just like you would digest a meal.”

From there, she says, your choices start to support that feeling of calm, strong or happy, and not just your food choices, but your moment-to-moment mental and physical choices.

“When you feel off or triggered, come back to your breath, soften and ask yourself again, how do you want to feel. Just like you would invite a good friend over, invite that feeling to make a home in you. Now you take calm, happy, strong everywhere you go.”

Stiles adds that our well-being is connected to that of others, and when we take care of ourselves, it affects the people around us.

“When we make a choice to take good care of ourselves, we make it easier for those around us to do the same. The world literally improves in direct result to how you are,” she says. “When you choose calm, happy, strong, you are choosing that for those you love and care about and also the people you interact with. You can literally help the world heal by simply helping yourself. And when those around you also feel better, it boomerangs back to you again! You are not alone.”