Try these 13 tips for body confidence - to banish negative self-talk and boost self-love

We've called on experts to share how best to build body confidence...

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If body confidence is something that you struggle with, then you are not alone. However, whatever the root of your own tricky relationship with how you look, it is important to banish the toxic cycle of self-talk and prioritize self-love. Indeed, according to research, feeling good about your physique has been linked with overall happiness. 

But first, it is vital to remember that you don't need to change a single thing about yourself in order to build better body confidence - you are amazing and worthy just as you are. Part of the process to cultivating a healthier connection with yourself will be to mute the inner voice that tells you otherwise, and learn how to be more compassionate.

So, if you want to learn how to be more confident, then we've called on the experts to share 13 best pieces of advice. Some of their most effective, but simple confidence boosters include challenging ingrained habits, practicing gratitude, becoming more active, changing social media consumption and making more time for self-care. Read on to find out what works best for you...

Tips for body confidence

1. Get reflective

“Start by trying to understand why you don't feel confident - uncovering the thoughts, beliefs and values you may hold at a deeper level," says holistic life coach Nichola Henderson. “Allow time to really ask yourself this question: ‘I suffer from low body confidence because...’ Change is always possible but first, you need to understand the origin of the problem so you can help yourself to feel differently.”

However, you need to be really specific in this process. "We tend to create sweeping statements about ourselves like ‘I hate my body’ which makes it incredibly hard to start to change your thinking and the way you feel," notes psychotherapist and coach Nova Cobban. Additionally, ask yourself these three things: is it 100% true that I hate my body right now in this moment? Is it true all that time? Is it true that everyone hates their body? “If it’s possible for someone to love their body then it’s possible for everyone,” she points out.

2. Be compassionate

It's important to go easy on yourself. "You are never going to go from decades of disliking your body to feeling Beyonce levels of body confidence overnight," says confidence coach Jenna O’Keefe. "Can you start to flip your perspective and think about all of the incredible things your body does for you every day? Right at this moment, there are trillions of cells in your body working tirelessly to keep you thriving and healthy - start to rewire your brain for compassion and self-love rather than punishment and restriction.”

If you're unsure where to begin, imagine treating yourself as you would your loved ones. "One quick and easy exercise is to ask five friends or family members to make a list of all your qualities and share it with you," suggests Hannah Martin, psychotherapist and founder of Talented Ladies Club. "It’s all too easy to be hard on ourselves, or only notice criticism. Seeing yourself through the eyes of others and noting your positive traits can be very powerful.”

3. Change perspective

“A great technique to feel more confident is to start to connect to yourself using 'mirror work',” advises O’Keefe. “Start by setting a timer on your phone and staring at yourself in the mirror. Look into your eyes, watch your pupils change and shift, the beauty and depth of the color of your eyes. Your mouth, your collarbones. 

"If you catch yourself falling into negative self-talk here gently pull yourself back to the task. By practicing 'mirror work' you connect to yourself on a much deeper level and you see past all of the ‘imperfections’. Do this for three minutes every day and it will work wonders.”

4. Practice gratitude

“Remember that your body is remarkable,” notes Martin. “We live in a culture that increasingly has unrealistic standards of beauty - thanks mainly to social media. It’s easy to view our body through solely an aesthetic lens and forget all the amazing things it does for us, and appreciate good physical health and movement.” 

She continues: “Few people like every part of their body - we all have parts of our body that we wish were different. But we usually have parts of our body that we do like. For example, you may hate your thighs but like your shoulders. Focus less on what you think is wrong, and more on what you like about yourself. Dress to highlight the parts of your body you love.” It's one of the best manifestation methods for beginners looking to improve their body confidence.

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5. Ditch self-criticism

“The best way to break this cycle is to become self-aware,” explains Henderson. “Try to monitor your thoughts. Take a mental note of what has come up, and notice how many times you criticize yourself and how it makes you feel. You then need to consciously decide to be less tolerant of those thoughts and when they pop in tell yourself" ‘I am not giving that my time’ and let it go." 

Instead, replace these unhelpful messages with confidence affirmations. "Focus on something positive that you like about yourself," continues Henderson. "Do this as often as the negativity pop up - you have a choice of whether to engage with them or let them go and choose another way to speak to yourself."

6. Be kind

Do you have an internal voice tearing you down? “Ask who is speaking in your head when you think about your body and the way you look,” says Cobban. “More often than not, it’s not you doing the talking, it’s someone else from your past. 

"Imagine every time you start to criticize yourself that you are saying these words out loud to someone you love, a small child perhaps…does it still feel appropriate to talk that way? What would you say instead? Keep practicing altering your self-talk and watch your confidence start to increase.”

7. Try vizualization

Similarly, as well as speaking to yourself differently, you can also try the visualization technique. “If you catch yourself saying hurtful things about your appearance you can start to visualize yourself as a little girl,” recommends O’Keefe. 

“Would you tell a little seven-year-old girl that her thighs were too big, that her belly was too wide or her skin is ugly? Of course not. That little girl lives inside of you still, so instead think about all of the things she needs to hear instead.” You can find more handy tools in some of the best confidence books.

8. Accept yourself

Truly feeling t ease with your body will come from within. "Stop seeking acceptance from others - the only acceptance you need is from yourself," says Henderson. "This takes some practice but helps because it is so liberating when you realize you don’t need anyone else’s acceptance to feel great about your body. Focus on how you want to feel not how you look, and encourage this feeling to grow.

"Think about how you feel when you have all the body confidence you ever wanted. Imagine yourself wearing something beautiful which allows you to feel amazing and feed this vision, adding in as many details as you can. Remember that you deserve to feel this good every day."

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9. Change habits

"What most people don’t realize is that our thoughts and feelings are just habits - and like any habit, they can be stopped with effort,” explains Martin. "It takes time to replace unwanted habits like thoughts and feelings, and at first it will feel odd. As strange as it may sound, your criticism and negative self-talk is more comfortable than the new, positive self-talk. But over time your new thoughts and feelings will feel more natural, and after a few weeks will become your default go-to.”

Just like becoming more self-aware, you need to first notice when you're in the habit of being most critical and talking most negatively to yourself. "Don’t simply allow thoughts and feelings to come unchecked," insists Martin. "If those thoughts or feelings aren’t healthy or desired, then get in the new habit of consciously stopping them and actively replacing them with thoughts or feelings you want to have."

10. Let go

“The secret to feeling more confident is in letting go of the things that negatively influence the innate confidence you have,” says Henderson. “Confidence isn’t something that we install, it’s something we need to uncover and to remember. For instance, the confidence we had as young children before we allowed the thoughts and beliefs of others to influence our internal world. 

"Try thinking actively thinking about all the things you are good at, the things that people have said to you over time that made you feel good and the compliments you have been given. Reflect on the things that you have done for others in their time of need. This is a way of cultivating the feelings associated with those thoughts, allowing us an alternative, kinder way to look at ourselves."

11. Practice self-care

“Self-care that demonstrates valuing the body in any form is great,” says Cobban. “So getting a haircut, having your nails done, having a massage, enjoying a bubble bath…all these things show you that you care about yourself and signal to the mind that you matter. 

"Becoming really aware of how you feel, do you feel good about your body when you dress a certain way? When you stand up straight? When you are doing certain activities?"

12. Get healthy

"Prioritize spending time on things you enjoy and that look after your health," suggests Martin. "Eat well, exercise and get a good night’s sleep. The more you consciously care for yourself, the better your mental health with be, and the more you will enjoy your life and grow to like yourself."

Doing physical activity is crucial. "That can be aiming for 10,000 steps a day or dancing around your kitchen for ten minutes while you cook dinner," recommends Martin. Improving your nutrition is important too. "Look at your diet and make simple tweaks, like swapping cake snacks for fruit and nuts," she adds. "Obviously any physical changes will take time, but these small, realistic changes are more about resetting your attitude towards your body and starting to love it from the inside-out.” And feeling better will circle back as great workout motivation.

13. Protect yourself

Be aware of the motives behind the messages you process on a daily basis. "Society tells us to not like ourselves purely from a marketing and advertising perspective so we buy their things to feel 'good enough'," notes life coach Jacqueline Hurst. "The truth is you are good enough right now at this moment and as soon as you learn that body confidence comes not from your figure, but from your thoughts, you're halfway there."

Martin adds: “Stop consuming content that makes you feel bad. If you compare yourself to particular people on social media, stop following them or viewing their posts. Remember that they may not even look like you assume they do - they may use filters, retouching or carefully angled photos. You’ll feel much happier when you take control of what you allow in your head. As a general rule, if anyone’s posts make you feel bad, stop following them.” And read these body confidence quotes instead.

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How to show confidence in body language

There is a shred of truth in the idea that acting more confidently can help boost your actual confidence. “The body and mind are more closely connected than many people realize,” explains Henderson. “A slight change in your body can send signals to your mind that you have got this and don't need to be afraid."

However, it’s important to go slowly if you are taking a ‘fake it until you make it’ approach to confidence. “You don’t want to activate your ‘fight or flight’ system,” warns O’Keefe. "To regulate your nervous system and prove to your body that you are safe you have to take small steps outside your comfort zone regularly.”

So, how do you go about harnessing the powers of positive body language? “If you have rapid shallow breaths and your shoulders are hunched over you are communicating to your body that you aren’t safe, which will, in turn, lead you to feel nervous, uncomfortable and lacking in confidence,” explains O’Keefe. “Try rolling your shoulders back, feel your collarbones expand and your heart open. Take five deep, full breaths that engage your diaphragm. Look upwards, make eye contact and smile. It will take around three minutes for the positives to take effect."

You can also enlist empowering poses. “These signal to the body and mind that you are confident and ready for whatever situation that arises,” explains Henderson. For example, ‘the wonder woman pose’ standing with your feet apart, chest forward, hands on hips and chin pointed upward, or ‘the victory pose’ standing straight and strong with your arms outstretched above your head. She adds: “Take up the space you need – remember you are worthy of it. Make eye contact with the people around you, stand tall, keep your shoulders open and relaxed, and shine your chest forward.” 

Cobban suggests that it can also be helpful to imagine a most confident version of you just a meter in front of you. “Notice how you are standing, how you hold your body, what you are wearing and how your hair is done,” she explains. “Now, step into the space where you saw the confident version of you standing and take on that stance - notice how you feel as you hold yourself there. Step into this as often as you need.”

Lauren Clark

Lauren is a freelance writer and editor with more than six years of digital and magazine experience. In addition to she has penned news and features for titles including Women's Health, The Telegraph, Stylist, Dazed, Grazia, The Sun's Fabulous, Yahoo Style UK and Get The Gloss. 

While Lauren specializes in covering wellness topics—ranging from nutrition and fitness, to health conditions and mental wellbeing—she has written across a diverse range of lifestyle topics, including beauty and travel. Career highlights so far include: luxury spa-hopping in Spain, interviewing Heidi Klum and joining an £18k-a-year London gym.