It’s so easy for mothers to subscribe to the ideals and expectations society has created about our bodies.
We see it in the praise of snapback culture, the misinformation about postpartum bodies, and the media’s obsession with critiquing women’s bodies. Terms like “mom bod” drive us to label our bodies as “bad” instead of embracing its natural changes.
And it’s made us more susceptible to neglecting our bodies.
Ways We’ve Abandoned Our Bodies
If you’re like me, you’ve abandoned your body at one point or another. The days get busier, our bodies begin to shift… We start to believe we’re less capable or deserving of nourishing our bodies because we think it no longer deserves love from anyone. Not from our partners, lovers, children, or—most heartbreakingly—ourselves.
Raise your hand if you’ve done—or are currently doing—any of the following:
1. You subscribe to the idea that you have “let yourself go.”
Maybe you’ve gained a few pounds during pregnancy (or even far after). Maybe you haven’t done your hair or nails as often as you used to. Either way, you think that you’ve “let yourself go.”
2. You compare your body to others obsessively.
You follow social media accounts that depict women who are super-fit or possess a certain physical quality. Obsessing over these influencers and comparing their body to your own, you feel you fall short of these images.
3. You don’t make time to be active.
Your physical activity has taken a turn. Hours pass before you get some movement into your day. You have gone weeks without doing one active thing outside of cooking and cleaning.
4. You don’t eat or drink for nourishment.
It’s totally ok to have a treat or a wine-down moment. But you’re abandoning your body’s nourishment on a deeper scale when you’re constantly eating nutrient-deficient food, or barely take a sip of water during the day. This can also mean overindulging in cocktails and other things that throw the body out of whack.
5. You think of rest as a luxury.
We’re told rest has no place in grind culture and Mommy Land. Not getting adequate sleep and refusing to take time to rest when our bodies call for it are seen as badges of honor. (They are not.)
6. You hate the way your body has changed.
You’re upset about new stretch marks, reluctant to look in the mirror and accept changes to your body. Or maybe your self-image has dwindled because of a divorce or medical condition.
How to Return Home to Your Body
If you answered yes to any or all of those statements, I want to tell you that strengthening your relationship with your body is possible. You can have a more intimate and healthy relationship to your body and accept where you are in the moment. It just takes committing to small, daily strides.
These acts of self-love and self-care can help you begin nurturing your body—your true and first home.
1. Create a body routine.
Go easy on yourself and find ways to get active that are in line with your current mental space. This means don’t pressure yourself to hit the gym or pay for a personal trainer if that is not something you are capable of committing to.
Start small. Choose one actionable body goal that aligns with your life. Maybe it’s going for a brisk, soothing walk every morning or taking 30 minutes out of your evening to dance and sweat. Reimagine the ways in which you can move.
Create space in your day to tune out the world and its expectations of you, and really sit in a completely relaxed state. Use this time to pray, journal, or sit in utter silence—whatever takes your mind off of the world.
3. Sleep more.
Yes, sleep. I get that we’re anxious to be the superheroes of our families, the doers, the always available. But we cannot be of our highest service to others without adequate rest and care for our bodies.
Try napping if you can, or set a bedtime routine. Power down your devices and truly rest.
4. Nourish your body.
We reclaim and rebuild our bodies by choosing to nurture them with good, whole foods and water.
There is only one you. Unsubscribe to anything that pressures you into unsupportive ideas about the value of your unique body. Unfollow celebrities, accounts, or publications that make you believe that you must alter your body to be loved.
6. Give your body grace.
Our bodies are ever-changing. Contrary to what the media wants us to believe, stretch marks, cellulite, scars, and imperfections are a part of being human. Give your body grace for all it has survived and all it has continued to do for you and others.