Christin Everson by Christin Everson

The summer months can bring us so much joy—longer days, sunny weather, vacations—but it can also be a hard time for one’s self-image and body confidence. Warmer weather calls for swimsuits, shorts and tank tops, all of which can intensify a personal struggle of self-love and self-confidence. Use these five steps to enhance your relationship with yourself this summer:

1. Use Your Body

Our bodies are more than what we see on the outside. They provide us the opportunity to move, adventure, play and experience new things. We are limiting our potential happiness if we focus only on the outside image of our bodies. Instead, focus on the strength, power and the freedom your body provides you to live the life you want. This summer, use your body every day to do things at which you excel. For added self-confidence, try using your body in novel ways—attempt something new that makes you feel strong and capable.

2. Express Gratitude

Many of us spend time focusing on what our bodies are lacking. Another way to demonstrate self-love and appreciation is to practice gratitude to your body for all it does for you each day. Spend time focusing on all that you are able to do because of your body and the experiences you can have because of your body’s ability to support you. Take time each day to list out what makes you unique and special, and be sure to include both small and large attributes that help you feel grateful.

3. Check Yourself

It’s easy to let negative self-talk impede our thoughts and challenge our ability to appreciate our bodies. Negative self-talk is rooted in the urge to compare ourselves to others, which results in feeling “less than.” Work to lessen negative self-talk to increase feelings of self-appreciation. When a negative thought enters into your mind, take a moment to acknowledge it and then follow it with a positive thought. How you’ve used your body that day or the personal gratitude list are great places from which to draw positive self-talk.

4. Treat Yo'self

Practicing self-care is an investment in ourselves. During times that challenge our self-image or confidence, it is important to spend time caring for ourselves. Make it a priority to treat yourself in at least one small way every day. Make time to do things that increase your feelings of greatness and self-confidence. Treat yourself in ways that leave you feeling restored and proud of who you are.

5. Unfollow

The world of social media can bring us together, teach us something new and inspire us. It also can provide more opportunities for physical comparisons between ourselves and others. Many people seek out fitness inspiration accounts to motivate themselves to exercise more or to achieve a specific physical aesthetic. This intended motivation can be problematic in supporting a positive body image and may actually reinforce a negative self-image instead of enhancing it. Take time to reflect on the accounts you follow and decide if they truly make you feel positively motivated and good about yourself. If not, unfollow. Make a conscience effort to only follow those accounts that provide you positive inspiration and support your self-image.

Don’t let the summer months pass you by without taking time to appreciate your uniqueness and all the things that make you strong and capable. Live this summer to the fullest by caring for yourself and feeling great moving your body in any way you can.