My body and I have a complicated relationship, to say the least. Mostly because I've spent the large majority of my life hating and mistreating it. As a person in recovery from an eating disorder, the concept of control and the concept of taking care of my body are two very loaded ideas. Now that I'm in recovery and not actively engaging in harmful behaviors, I often find myself feeling an urge to do something to feel in control of my body that isn't unhealthy. I think everyone can relate to this urge from time to time, in recovery or not. I've found a few activities and habits over the years to add to my toolkit that you might find helpful, as well.
1. Do some yoga
You don't have to know how to do it to do it! There are so many videos on YouTube that take you through quick beginner flows. It's a great way to feel restored and revitalized mentally, emotionally, and physically while witnessing how much your body can really do.
2. Dance a little
This can mean whatever you want it to mean. I danced at a studio for 15 years, and the further away I get from an unhealthy mindset and lifestyle, the more I can appreciate the positive ways in which dance styles like ballet and lyrical can be used to honor your body. But dancing at a party or alone in your room with some music on gives the same effect.
3. Get a piercing
Sure, this one might be a liiittle less accessible than the last two. But it's super effective. Whether it's that second (third, fourth, fifth... eighth, in my case) ear piercing or the nose piercing you know your family is gonna hate, it's a power move. And it's a cute one.
4. Dye your hair
It can be drastic or it can be subtle. You can bleach the whole thing or you can throw a little blue in at the bottom. It doesn't matter. Making a bold decision about how you want to look and present yourself is very empowering. And hey, worst case scenario? Hair always grows.
5. Cut your hair
Remember what I said: Hair always grows! And there is nothing more freeing than chopping off a good chunk of hair, especially if you do something like donating it after. I wholeheartedly believe that cutting off those dead ends cuts off a lot of dead ends from your life, too. Plus, a woman with short hair? Revolutionary.
6. Practice guided meditation
This is another one that I think people shy away from because they don't know how to do it. Just like yoga, you don't have to know how! I follow guided meditations on YouTube pretty much every night. While meditation is typically more focused on the mind (and soul) than body, the process of slowing your breath and your body down is a wonderfully freeing kind of control.
7. Sing or play an instrument
In the shower, in your car, on a stage. Belt out those notes and remember how much power you store inside of you and what beautiful things you can create!
8. Get a little tan
My favorite way to do this is to lay outside for hours, come back with nothing other than an uneven burn, only to decide to give up on the notion of being natural and pull out the self-tanner. I love the freedom of getting to go from one season to the next overnight. The sun doesn't decide when I get to be tan, right?
9. Buy some clothes that make you feel powerful
Buying clothes has always been the exact opposite of a powerful experience for me. Nothing made me feel both so huge and so small as entering a dressing room. Once I started learning how to reshape the way I look at and talk to my body, I learned that I can find clothes that make me feel powerful. Maybe this is a new sweater, maybe this is a new bra. Find what you need to finally feel at home in your body.
I hate sweating. I hate taking an hour to put on makeup and then walking into a room with it all melting off and beading because it's a million degrees everywhere. But there is suuuch a difference between sweating because it's gross out and sweating because you're moving your body in a way that thanks you. The latter is so rewarding!