5 ways to feel beach body ready – exactly as you are

Blue skies, beaches and bikinis are in touching distance, but summer can be a very daunting time for many of us – and the panic to get ‘beach body ready’ looms.

Despite great strides in the body positivity movement, many still feel the pressure to achieve unrealistic societal beauty standards – such as chiselled abs and glowing, sun-kissed skin – before daring to enjoy the beach.

Social media and adverts often perpetuate these ‘ideals’, which lead many people to turn to extreme diets and fitness regimes at this time of year.

But, nobody should have to change their physique in order to enjoy the sea and sunshine – we’re all ‘beach body ready’ just as we are. Sometimes, it’s just our minds that aren’t quite ready.

So, here are five tips to help us all feel fabulous on holiday this summer, no matter our shape or size…

1. Focus on all the wonderful things your body can do

“Focus on what your body can do, rather than how it looks,” says Lowri Dowthwaite-Walsh, psychotherapist and senior lecturer in psychological interventions at the University of Central Lancashire.

“Building strength in your body by engaging in physical activity and exercise that you enjoy can make you appreciate your body more, and in turn build body confidence,” she adds. “Weight-bearing exercise, yoga, swimming, running and dancing are all great options.”

Dr Laura Geige, medical doctor and psychologist, also believes promoting an internal dialogue that emphasises body functionality over aesthetics is helpful, and explains: “Celebrating what one’s body can do, rather than how it appears, helps in fostering gratitude and resilience against negative self-perceptions.”

2. Dial down the noise

Our Instagram and TikTok feeds are often inundated with size 6 models, tanned celebrities and perky fitness influencers with sparkly white teeth, which can make us lose touch with reality.

Comparison is the thief of joy, after all – and Suzy Reading, chartered psychologist and author of Rest To Reset, recommends editing the content you are exposed to on social media and being mindful of the facade around it all.

“Dial down the noise if this messaging is getting to you,” says Reading. “Curate your social media feed, unsubscribe from mailing lists, and be mindful of your audio and visual diet.

“Remember that the images we’re consuming are likely to be manipulated and filtered, so the ideals we aspire to are rarely humanly possible – ‘reel life’ is not real life!”

3. Embrace some cold water therapy!

Enduring a cold shower in the morning could be the ticket to body confidence, suggests Dowthwaite-Walsh.

“Taking cold showers every day can be another way of building confidence in your body,” she says. “By tolerating the extreme feeling of cold, the body learns to manage the stress response and over time it can help you become less reactive to stress, more alert and energised.

Studies have also found that cold water therapy such as cold showers, cold water immersion and outdoor swimming can reduce symptoms of depression,” Dowthwaite-Walsh adds.

4. Self-care rituals

Comfortable swimwear and a spritz of your favourite perfume are two great ways to boost your confidence before heading to the beach. And Dr Geige believes incorporating simple self-care rituals into our routines can help set us up for a good day.

She says: “Building confidence for a beach visit can also involve preparatory self-care rituals that emphasise self-respect, rather than vanity. This could include choosing beachwear that emphasises comfort and personal style over trend conformity, engaging in activities that boost body positivity, and setting realistic expectations for the beach experience.”

Dowthwaite-Walsh also encourages regular acts of self-kindness and self-care. For example, by having a massage, or wearing clothes you love.

“These regular acts of kindness are great ways to say thank you to the wonderful body that houses you. By showing we care, we tell ourselves that we are worthy, and this in turn can build confidence,” says Dowthwaite-Walsh.

5. Mindfulness practices

If you start to feel anxious while at the beach, mindfulness techniques could come in handy – try and focus on the sound of the crashing waves, and the feeling of sand under your feet, for example.

“Cultivating mindfulness practices can help anchor one’s thoughts in the present moment, reducing the propensity to make unfavourable comparisons,” explains Dr Geige.

This is something Reading does regularly, and she recommends taking slow breaths and using words of affirmation – even if you’re just saying them internally – to help soothe the nervous system.

Explaining her process, she says: “I’ll breathe in through my nose and exhale through pursed lips to lengthen my exhale. I’ll lift my gaze and the corner of my lips and feel the uplift this creates and I’ll remember why I’m doing it, because life is for the living!

“I want to feel alive and drink the juice of summer – the warmth of the sunlight on my skin, the sand beneath my feet, the fresh cool sensation of the water washing away these doubts, these artificial deficits, and I will give myself permission to keep immersing myself in my senses and savouring the many joys available to me.”

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