One of the most wonderful things about a women’s retreat is that by spending time with other women, we come to see how remarkably unique we are, and also, how incredibly similar we are. This realisation and understanding can be very powerful when it comes to our own sense of self-love and self-worth. We are able to appreciate the things that do make us unique and different, while also feeling understood and united by the things that we share as women.
Over the past ten years, we have welcomed over 6,000 women to our Bali retreat. These women come from all over the world, are all different ages, have different professions and families, dreams and goals. They have been different nationalities and religions, have travelled alone or with a friend, family member or partner. They have been different shapes, sizes and personality types and come from different social-economic backgrounds. On retreat, these differences create interesting conversations and expand our mindsets as we hear and marvel in the various contrast of lives from week to week with new groups and guests.
At the same time, every week the women on retreat form friendships and bonds not just from the things that set them apart, but from the things that bind them together. Chances are, most of us have experienced a healthy dose of life’s highs and lows. As women, we all have hang-ups, things we would love to change about ourselves or the course our life has taken us on. We all have insecurities and fears. Spending time with other women reminds us that we are not alone in these emotions, that these are in fact part of what it is to be human.
The rise of social media over the last decade has in many ways changed how we exist in the world, how we relate to others, and how we see and value ourselves. On a positive note, it has united us in remarkable ways and offered us a platform for self-expression. We can stay connected to people all over the globe, and we can voice whatever we have on our minds- from asking for help, to sharing our wins, to informing the world of what we ate for breakfast! On a less optimistic note, social media has gone great lengths in separating us- making us more self-conscious and judgemental and making us feel more isolated despite the perception of connectivity.
The media has always been in the spotlight when it comes to triggering negative body image in women. In today’s media-saturated society, more than ever before women are feeling the weight and pressure to look, feel and act certain ways. Comparison is rife in this day and age where we can all-to-easily glimpse the highlight reel of women all over the world from the palm of our hand. It is easy to feel not good enough, not worthy enough, not thin enough, not attractive enough, not smart enough, not successful enough- the list continues. Even if we know the images we are seeing on social media are indeed edited, filtered and ever so carefully constructed, it is still in our nature to play the comparison game and end up feeling disheartened, depressed or helpless.
Social media accentuates the body image issues that tend to already plague us as women. So, what is the solution? More than ever before, we have to make a concerted effort to appreciate the skin we are in and celebrate who we are as a unique individual.
Sometimes, this is easier said than done! We cannot necessarily just flick on a self-love switch and all our cares and concerns go away. One thing to realise and remain aware of though is that as women, we all have our own insecurities- even (or especially!) the flashy, seemingly flawless women on Instagram! No one is perfect, we are all perfectly imperfect. Happiness, self-confidence and self-love all exist right now in this moment- they are not dependant on the size of your jeans or how many spots/lines/grey hairs (insert personal hang-up here!) you may have! When you truly learn how to celebrate yourself and your body just as it is, life starts to become so much easier, more joyous, and so rich and magical- you can appreciate everything for what it is without scrutinizing, judging or over-analysing. You are free to simply be YOU- which is why you are here!
Here are 8 simple ways to really start loving the skin you’re in:
Adore Your Defining Features
Often it’s the things that are unique about our appearance that we feel the most self-conscious about. Perhaps it is the shape of your nose, the freckles that scatter your cheeks, or the special colour of your hair. As women we spend so much time, money and energy trying to alter our appearance or play down certain traits while enhancing others. When you start to not only accept, but to really celebrate, your unique defining features, it feels so freeing and empowering! Maybe it’s not even something visual, perhaps it is the sound of your laughter, the way you run, or any other character trait that is essentially ‘you.’ These are the things that the people around you most likely love the most about you. It’s time for you to do the same.
Speak Kindly to Yourself
The words we use to talk to ourselves are incredibly powerful. If you spend days, weeks or even years telling yourself something, it is very hard not to believe it- but are the words you are telling yourself true? As women, we can be our own worst enemy and make up all kinds of nonsense about our appearance, behaviours or measures of success. Negative words like ‘I can’t,’ ‘I don’t,’ ‘I shouldn’t,’ are best replaced with positive self-talk. Try talking to yourself the way you would someone you love. Tell yourself something positive every day- how wonderful you look in that dress, how lovely your eyes look today, how proud you are you went to that yoga class or how impressed you were with your input at a staff meeting that day. Taming your inner critic isn’t always instant, but it is worth the effort and over time, practising loving words over hurtful words will come easily and greatly enrich your life.
Create Self-Love Rituals
Creating self-love rituals is easy and can be something simple you do every day or every week just for you. It can be as easy as starting your day with a hot cup of tea in your favourite cosy quiet nook of the house or garden. It could be a weekly dance class that you love. Perhaps it is a monthly trip to the day spa or taking yourself out for Sunday brunch. Maybe it’s a beautiful bubble bath before bed or a glass of wine as you cook yourself a special dinner. These little rituals are about treating yourself to things that bring you simple joy and fill up your cup. While it can be easy to catch up with a friend for a coffee or go out for a weekend hike with your partner, doing these things on your own is really empowering and nourishing. Make a list of the little things in life that make you smile and aim to do them more often.
Say Farewell to Comparison
Does scrolling through social media make you feel less than fabulous about yourself? Does reading women’s magazines make you question where you are in life? Does going to your local spin class make you ponder where you were when they handed out the coordination gene?! Life is SO much better when you are not living it comparing yourself to the way everyone around you is living on it. Learn to focus your energy on your own life. If time on social media doesn’t serve you, let it go! Or unfollow accounts that trigger you. At work, at the gym, when you catch up with girlfriends, or when you’re in line at the supermarket – let go of needing to measure up where you are at in relation to other people. You will be amazed at how much this will change your life. Don’t forget- comparison is the thief of joy.
Good old gratitude strikes again! While we did just talk about not comparing yourself to others, let’s go there for a moment. If you are reading this now, on a computer or smartphone, you are already in a more advantageous position than millions of people in the world. If you have a bed to sleep in, a job to go to, family around you, food in your kitchen and access to healthcare- you are FAR more privileged than most people in the world. When you start to get caught up on the little things (the way your tummy looks in that dress, the pimple that appeared overnight on your forehead, or the fact that you can’t reach your toes in yoga) really step back and look at how much you have and how incredible your life is. Put your worries in perspective and replace your complaints with gratitude. Instead of focusing on what you perceive to be ‘wrong’ with you, focus on all of the amazing things. Try and jot down or say three things about your body or life each day that you are grateful for. Appreciate your body. It’s your vessel, and you only get one of them.
Learn to Let Go
Often the things that we hold onto are the things that continue to give us grief. As women, we can get attached to things that we have been told- by our parents, by past lovers, even by so-called friends. Letting go of these old stories is incredibly freeing and allows us to live in the present moment. Perhaps you have been telling yourself the same old stories for years that are weighing you down? Maybe you have attached a label to yourself that isn’t true anymore? As we become more aware and mindful of the words we use and the way we treat ourselves, we can begin to see things that have been holding us back from living fully, living authentically, living boldly, and living joyously. We find on retreat, many women come face to face with these stories and in a safe space they can come to unravel themselves and transform, letting go of the old and opening up to embrace the new.
Be Realistic (and Gentle)
While we spend so much time trying to find that elusive place of ‘perfection,’ the truth is we are all human, flawed and prone to making mistakes as we navigate the world and learn and grow from our experiences. You are not the only one who feels vulnerable, insecure and self-critical at times. Deep down under the surface, we are all dealing with certain struggles and trying to do the best we can. Keep your common humanity in perspective- this will help you to take the pressure off yourself and prevent you from feeling isolated, alienated or alone. As women, we share many of the same fears and worries. Let go of the image you have created of the perfect life or perfect body. Let go of waiting to allow yourself happiness until you reach a certain goal or that ‘perfect’ weight. Remember to keep things in perspective and keep your humanity in check. It will help you to be more gentle and accepting of yourself just as you are.
Be Unapologetically You
Think back a moment to when you were a child, before the world told you that you had to be or act a certain way. We spend a lot of our adult life taming ourselves, trying to fit in, trying not to draw attention to ourselves, overthinking and overanalysing rather than just being. We cause ourselves so much pain and suffering when we stifle our true nature and ignore our burning desires and dreams, for the sake of fitting in with the status quo and meeting the expectations of others. Have the courage to simply be you. Share your mind and ideas, laugh more, be confident in what you have to offer the world. Take risks, be bold, try new things. Too often we let life pass us by because we are afraid to reach out and grab it or we think we are not worthy enough. When you are confident in who you are and what you want in life, the world becomes a playground not a battlefield. You are here to give the world your own special blend of gifts, passions, interests and quirks. Allowing yourself to show up to life as your authentic self is one of the most empowering things you can do. All you need to do is give yourself permission to shine.
Are you feeling inspired?! Learning to love and accept your body and yourself as you are is one of the greatest lessons in life, especially for women. We witness so many women really connect and discover self-love on retreat. If you’re looking for a nurturing and supportive space to grow, transform and reconnect, join us in Bali and take the first step on a new journey towards loving and appreciating the skin you’re in.
Your Escape Haven Bali Retreat offers a luxury wellness experience for body, mind and soul
We invite you to experience our award-winning Bali yoga retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level, we’d love to help you rejuvenate, unwind, reawaken and experience the very best of Bali. Dive into transformational yoga and meditation classes, exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitness classes and restorative healing sessions. How much or little you do is all up to you.