Remember when summer felt like freedom? The time of year where all responsibilities fell away and everyday was spent outside, at the beach, and running around in bathing suits? I think many of us still have the same love for this time of year. Yet, underneath the summer love lies some summer anxiety.
Bathing suit anxiety to be exact. Because this is the season where our bodies are on full display and, well, that can be super uncomfortable. Whether we feel older, less sexy, or have gained a few pounds over the past year, exposing the skin we’re in can be a challenge.
I totally get it. This year in particular I’ve been carrying around a few extra pounds and for the first time in my life, I’ve gained weight that I haven’t been able to lose quickly. Since turning 35 two years ago, I’ve felt my body change and my metabolism slow. And it’s taken me some time to embrace the fact that this may be my new normal.
Instead of pressuring myself to fit into last year’s bikini, I’m shopping for one that fits me now. Because the most important thing is that I feel healthy and comfortable in my skin (today).
So if you find yourself worrying about how you’ll look on the beach, I recommend using this time to set an important goal: to cultivate self-compassion and move in the direction of your healthiest body, no matter what the number is on the scale. If losing 5 pounds feels doable, totally motivating, and would make you feel a lot healthier, go for it. Weight loss can be a great thing. But, as my brilliant colleague Sarah Jenks says, “don’t wait on the weight.”
As Sarah smartly suggests, don’t wait until you’ve lost that 5, 15, or 20 pounds to join friends at the beach, take a road trip upstate, or wear a bathing suit. Let this be a time when you tune into your feminine energy, and know that just like anything else in life, you are a beautiful work in progress. You are always becoming a more enlightened, loving, resilient version of yourself. And this is just another opportunity to embrace exactly where you are—right now—without needing to fix it or make it better.
So what’s the best way to approach summer so that you find inner peace when it comes to your body image? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
How to Overcome Bathing Suit Anxiety
- Pick healthy foods. Eating foods that not only nourish your cells but also give you energy are going to make you feel more clear-headed, focused, and clean from the inside out. Be sure to be intentional and intuitive about your food choices.
- Move your body.Whether it’s taking a swim in a lake, a run in Central Park, or a long walk on a Saturday, get outside and get moving. Exercise will not only give you an endorphin boost, but it will also help your feel strong and fit. Exercise is a great way to get in touch with your intuition, too. I promise a brisk walk is the quickest way to tune in.
- Wear what feels good.
Feeling good on the beach has a lot to do with what you’re wearing. Choose a swimsuit and coverup that make you feel feminine, confident, and comfortable, and wear them often.
- Surround yourself with loving and kind people who encourage health. Be mindful of who you are hanging around with. If you find yourself with people who are constantly judging themselves and others due to looks and appearance, this may be your cue to seek out more positive people to spend your time with. I am not saying ditch your friends. Nope, not at all. I am just suggesting that you also consciously seek the company of those that aren’t stuck on appearance.
- Look to leaders in the body positive movement. As I mentioned, Sarah Jenks is certainly someone to know when it comes to taking good care of yourself body, mind and soul. But also check out other leaders in the space too: Alison Leipzig, Nitika Chopra, Jamie Mendell and Isabel Foxen Duke to name a few.
If we can honor and nurture our physicality with love and attention, that will translate across the board in our lives. Because as we work on one thing, we work on everything. And before we know it, we’ve become more resilient, developed more self-compassion, and feel even more free.