Let’s be honest: When was the last time you gave yourself a compliment? If it’s been awhile, you’re not alone. Negative self-talk happens to the best of us. But there’s good news: you have the power to flip the script. Here’s why you should consider writing a letter to yourself — and how it could actually help support your health goals.
You may know that negative self-talk can hold you back from achieving your goals (if you didn’t, you’ll want to read this). But if you struggle with positive self-talk, writing a letter to yourself may help. In a recent Northwestern University study, women who wrote letters to their bodies that focused on general compassion, body compassion, or body functionality reported greater body satisfaction and experienced improvements in their mood compared to the control group. 1
Why Write a Letter to Your Body?
It all comes down to showing yourself some love. In short, self-compassion is treating yourself as you would treat a friend or loved one — with care and kindness. Show yourself some self-compassion by writing a letter to your body and you may experience a self-esteem boost among other mental health benefits. An added bonus: studies suggest that there could be physical benefits as well. For example, when Georgia State University researchers reviewed seven studies on self-compassion, they found that the practice may help with health behaviors including overeating, smoking, physical activity, and overall self-care practices.2 What’s more, self-compassion is also associated with less perceived stress and less physical response to stress in the body. 3
Tips for Writing a Letter to Your Body
Feeling inspired? Here are three prompts similar to the ones used in the Northwestern University study to help you write a kind letter to yourself. For each prompt, set a timer for 10 minutes and write for the duration. If you run out of things to write, rewrite what you already have, using different words. After 10 minutes have passed, stop writing and take another 5 minutes to re-read, make any changes, and reflect upon what you have written.
Prompt #1: Compassion
Before you begin, call to mind a close friend, someone you admire. This person is compassionate and is always supportive of you. Imagine if this friend were having a hard day and being critical of herself, what would you do? You would probably try to help her see how amazing she is, regardless of her perceived flaws — you’d remind her of all of her strengths and positive attributes.
Keeping in mind how you would speak to that friend, write a letter to yourself. How would you lovingly respond to your self-criticisms? How would you express compassion and love for yourself as a person?
Prompt #2: Body Compassion
Write this letter from the same perspective as above – as if you were speaking to yourself like you would one of your closest friends. If you found yourself criticizing your body and pointing out so-called imperfections, how would you respond with compassion? What would help you think less critically about your body?
Prompt #3: Body Functionality
This letter is about focusing on what your body does and what it allows you to do. Think about all of the things your body helps you accomplish each day. Perhaps that's picking up your children, going for a walk, climbing the stairs to your office, or smelling and tasting fresh vegetables at the farmer's market. Focus on the things that bring you joy. What has your body allowed you to do in your life?
Once you finish your letter, take the time to reflect upon what you’ve written. We hope there are some kind words of compassion, love and understanding. The next time you find yourself being critical of yourself, read your note. Stash it somewhere handy so you can read it the next time you need a pick-me-up!
Staying positive on a weight loss journey can be challenging at times, but there are ways to help you focus on the end goal: a healthier you.
Give this practice a try and let us know how it goes by leaving us a comment below!
Elisa is a content marketing manager for Jenny Craig with over ten years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She loves sharing her passion for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. A San Diego native and an endurance sports enthusiast, you can usually find her swimming, biking along the coast highway or running by the beach in her free time. Elisa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University Chico.
Favorite healthy snack: mozzarella string cheese with a Pink Lady apple.
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