4 rituals that will boost your body confidence

Beauty Rituals That Will Boost Your Body Confidence - Bella Hadid

Love the body you have

Women's Health marie claire Beauty Director / February 01 2018

Here’s an idea: there is no correlation between the size of our thighs and our self-worth. Obvious, right? Well, it’s important to keep in mind because some of us can be pretty tough on our bodies. But there’s a shift happening – and it’s towards body love.

The proof? A new study, presented atan American Psychological Association convention, found that over the pastthree decades, women’s feelings of body dissatisfaction have fallen more than 28 per cent. Researchers say this reflects a positive change around body acceptance and body diversity. This change in attitude has also made its way onto social media, in the form of women proudly posting stretch mark selfies rather than airbrushed perfection. Actresses such as Jennifer Lawrence are also openly refusing to starve themselves to conform to Hollywood’s body ideals, while singers (thank you, Pink) are standing up for a more diverse range of the body beautiful.

Another sign we’re happier with our bods? The word ‘strong’ has begun to replace ‘thin’ as the most ticked in our body vocabulary. And, when asked in a recent Women’s Health poll, readers said they wanted to see words like ‘strong’ and ‘toned’ rather than ‘ripped’.

Many experts believe that loving the skin we’re in begins in the bathroom. “Routinely caring for our skin sends a message to our brains that we care about ourselves, which contributes to greater body acceptance,” says psychologist Dr Vivian Diller, authorof Face It. “There is research showing that people who pay attention to themselvescan improve their attitude and thereforetheir health. The healthier and happier we are, the more confident we feel.”  

Makes sense!

Ready for self-love? Here are four rituals that will benefit your body, inside and out.  

#1 / Exfoliate 

The process of shedding an outer layer of skin is a critical part of the life cycle of many animal species. Exfoliation can bring a similar sense of renewal for people, too, both physically and mentally. “The skin cells on the body are hardier than those on our face and don’t renew on their ownas easily,” says New York-based dermatologist Dr Julie Russak. So we need to pitch in and scrub from the neck down more than we do from the neck up.

There are many ways to exfoliate, but the mechanical route is the best for your mood. The reason: it requires actual physical scrubbing and interaction with your bod, unlikea chemical exfoliator, which uses acids (think glycolic or lactic) to do the job.

Sugar- or salt-dosed body scrubs smooth and hydrate simultaneously (many also now come with a dose of mind-boosting aromatherapy). But you might also wantto enlist an exfoliating tool. Textured body mitts rely on nothing but brisk buffing once or twice a week to eliminate dead skin cells on tough areas such as the feet, elbows and knees. Then there’s dry body brushing – the Ayurvedic practice of sweeping a vegetable-bristle brush from the toes to the neck. “The upward motion revs blood circulation and also helps with lymphatic drainage, too,” explains Russak.

Products to try: Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Coconut Oil Body Scrub; endota spa Organics Arnica & Menthol Recovery Scrub; The Body Shop Spa Of The World French Grape Seed Scrub

Palmer's Coconut Oil Formula Coconut Oil Body Scrub

endota spa Organics Arnica & Menthol Recovery Scrub

The Body Shop Spa Of The World French Grape Seed Scrub

#2 / Stretch

We know that yoga does the body a world of good – but it also works wonders for the mind and skin, too. Downward Dog kickstarts blood flow and skin regeneration, twisted poses aid digestion (often the source of skin issues) and Mountain Pose creates an oxygen flow that helps the body to purge toxins.

“Yoga is a great way to boost your circulation,” says Lorna Jane Clarkson, yoga expert and author of Love You. “It may seem slow and relaxing at first – but once you start, you’ll realise it is actually quite challenging. Before you know it, your heart will be pumping.” Studies show that regular yoga practicecan calm stress levels and balance out hormones – both of which are associatedwith premature cell ageing. “When done in combination, a series of yoga poses can pump oxygen through your body, which is proven to help increase circulation and also reduce skin dullness,” says Clarkson. “The stress relief that comes from doing yoga regularly is also your best friend when it comes to anti-ageing.” Good incentive during a challenging pose.

#3 / Soak

Baths are amajor time commitment. But what you lose in minutes, you gain in calm. A 2016 study in journal Health & Place found that simply being near water lowered stress levels. If you want to ramp that effect up a notch, use the tub as a shortcut to meditation.

“The benefits of yoga and meditation are endless,” says Clarkson. “Setting aside time in your day to be in the moment and truly tap into your inner thoughts allows for clarity and an inner calmness that is incredibly beneficial forour emotional health,” she adds.

All it takes is a few minutes of simple meditative and intentional breathing: inhale deeply, drawing the belly in, then exhale slowly, letting the belly get softer. Repeat. “By bringing your attention to your body and your breath, you calm your mind and relieve any physical and mental tension,” says Clarkson. Try to make bathtime a tech-free, book-free, sound-free experience to calm the senses and prepare for inner peace. And keep the temperature warm, never hot, advises Russak. This is especially important if you’re prone to skin irritations such as eczema.

Products to try: Clarins Relax Bath & Shower Concentrate; L’Occitane Lavande Foaming Bath; Herbivore Botanicals Calm – Ylang Ylang + Vanilla Dead Sea Soaking Salts

Clarins Relax Bath & Shower Concentrate

L’Occitane Lavande Foaming Bath

Herbivore Botanicals Calm – Ylang Ylang + Vanilla Dead Sea Soaking Salts

#4 / Massage

Sure, it’s relaxing. But numerous studies have found the sense of touch to be critical for boosting immunity, managing anxiety and reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So when you apply your moisturiser, don’t just slap it on – take a moment to work it in.

“Research shows that oxytocin is released by gentle, conscious touch from anotheror oneself,” explains chiropractor and movement specialist Dr George Russell. “Some researchers call it the ‘bliss hormone’; I call it the ‘eat, pray, love’ hormone, because it gives a feeling of generosity, contentment and connectedness. And the more you feel your own body, the more secure, confident and responsive you’ll be.” It doesn’t have to be a 60-minute massage either – a few minutes a day of positive touch reaps serious benefits. Starting at the feet, work a body oil into skin with both hands. Using a circular motion, move from legs to hips to belly into the chest, arms and up over the shoulders. “There’s something very powerful in nurturing yourself in that way,” says Kerrilynn Pamer, co-owner of spa and boutiqueCap Beauty in New York. “Skin care is like lingerie: maybe not everybody sees it,but you know what it feels like.”

Products to try: Kora Organics Noni Glow Body Oil; Sans Ceuticals Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face Oil; Payot Elixir Nourish Repair Sublimate

Kora Organics Noni Glow Body Oil

Sans Ceuticals Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face Oil

Payot Elixir Nourish Repair Sublimate

It's amazing what a golden glow can also do to help you feel more body confident. Try it with these super-hydrating self tanners.

For more wellbeing advice from Women's Health, head to womenshealth.com.au

What's your body care routine? Share with us your steps and go-to products below.

Main image credit: Getty

marie claire Beauty Director, Sally Hunwick joined the marie claire team in 2017. Previously Sally has worked on Cosmopolitan as Beauty and Lifestyle Director, Women’s Health as Contributing Beauty Editor, and Harper's BAZAAR and Dolly as Beauty Writer and Beauty Editor respectively. An award-winning journalist with a long-running career both in Australia and in the UK, Sally is passionate about all things beauty and health.