Being more aware of your heartbeat and breathing might improve body image, research suggests.
People who are more mindful of internal body signals, including hunger and discomfort, appreciate their body more and take greater pride in it.
In addition, this mindful attention to the body is linked to less worry about being overweight.
Mindfulness exercises often involve paying close attention to the body in a compassionate way.
Self-acceptance, tolerance and loving kindness are the keys to being compassionate (more on this in my ebook ‘Accept Yourself‘).
Ms Jennifer Todd, the study’s first author, said:
“Unfortunately, experiences of negative body image are extremely common, to the extent that some academics consider this a ‘normal’ experience for women in Western society.
Our research finds associations between the awareness of internal body signals and measures of body image.
This could have implications for promoting positive body image, for example modifying interoceptive awareness through mindfulness-based practices.”
The study included 646 people who took tests of bodily awareness and of their body image.
For example, people were asked if they agreed with statement like:
- When I am tense I notice where the tension is located in my
- I can maintain awareness of my inner bodily sensations even
when there is a lot going on around me.
The more they agreed with statements like these, the better they felt about their body, the study found.
Ms Todd concluded:
“However the research, which was conducted with exclusively British participants, also demonstrates that the relationship between interoceptive awareness and body image is complex and requires further investigation.”
The study was published in the journal Body Image (Todd et al., 2019).