How to deal with a body that’s changed.

So, over the last year or so I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my body.  And I don’t mean like, growing hair in strange places.  I mean that I’ve gained some weight.  Not a huge amount of weight, but enough that I feel uncomfortable in my own skin (and in most of my jeans).  And I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been pretty hard for me to deal with this change in my bod.

Now, I’ve written before about gaining weight, and how it’s troubled me. And a lot of the feelings I discussed in that post are still ringing true.  I’m finding it quite hard to manage the feelings that are cropping up with the weight that I’ve gained.  So in an effort to move forward, I sat down and thought carefully about why I’m so bothered by a few extra kilos.

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While my negative feelings about my body are complicated, there are a few key issues that have bubbled to the surface during my ruminations.  The first is the realisation that even though I try hard to be body positive, even though I try not to internalize the messages I’m bombarded with about how thin is better, and how being fat is a terrible thing, I’m still affected by them.  Even though I know countless people with a wide array of body shapes and sizes who are all incredibly gorgeous, even though I constantly tell people to be kind to themselves, I still feel the weight of those messages.  I still feel like I’ve failed in some way because I’ve gained weight.  I still feel less attractive when I notice that my jeans won’t zip or that my belly pokes out more than it used to.  I still feel like I should be ashamed of my weight gain.  It makes me pretty angry that even though I’ve done my best to resist that negativity and shame, it’s still wormed it’s way into my consciousness.

I’ve also felt frustrated with myself because I keep having this idea that my weight is something that I should control.  And that if I’m gaining weight, it’s because I’ve done the wrong thing.  I feel ashamed and lazy.  I feel mad that I have to manage my depression with drugs that have caused me to gain weight.  I feel burdened by my full-time job, which takes up much of my time and energy and makes it much more difficult to eat well and exercise. And I curse my genetics which make it more likely that I’m going to have a rounder figure as I get older.  I feel impotent because there are so many factors working against me, and I imagine that I should be able to manage them and keep my figure because that’s what women are “supposed to do”.

I also feel uncomfortable with the way I look.  Now, I need to point out that I don’t think that fat=ugly.  The reason that I don’t feel comfortable is that I’m not used to the way my body looks now. Even though the shift in my weight hasn’t been dramatic, it’s enough that I feel strange in my own skin.  I look in the mirror and it feels weird to see more rounded hips, and a curved tummy  and actual boobs.  My figure has become more hourglass where it was always fairly up-and-down and very skinny.  My clothes fit me differently and hug me too tightly over my new curves.  Outfits that used to make me feel confident and sassy now make me feel like a sausage in a too-tight casing. I don’t feel like I look like “me”. It’s so difficult to learn to love a new shape when I’d barely become confident in the one I had.

But I’m doing alright.  And there are a few things I’ve been doing that have helped immensely.  I’d like to share those things with you, in case you’re also struggling with a body that’s changed.

Talk about it.

Discussing my feelings and insecurities has been extremely helpful.  I’m lucky enough to have many people in my life who were kind to me, who listened attentively and empathised.  Talking it over with a few of my favourite people helped me to feel so much better.  It made me realise that my feelings aren’t unique, that these struggles are something that most people go through.  It gave me comfort to know that those special people didn’t think any less of me because I’d gained weight, and still valued me just as much.

Decide what action you want to take (if any)

Let me be absolutely clear: you don’t have to do anything about your weight gain if you don’t want to.  I’m the last person who will tell you that you need to go on a diet.  But I do think that if your weight gain is causing you pain and grief, then you need to do something.  For me, I’ve taken stock of my  lifestyle and realised that I could definitely improve my eating habits and exercise routine.  I know that I need to plan a more well-rounded diet and move my body more often.  At the same time, I know that unless I starve myself and stop taking my medication, I’m never going to get back to my old body.  And so as well as taking better care of myself, I’ve decided that I need to work on accepting my body and coming to terms with the changes that have taken place.  So whether you want to change up your habits, or look at your emotional patterns, or a bit of both, I think taking some action to get yourself feeling better is a good idea.

Recognise that bodies change

All bodies, particularly female bodies, go through massive changes over the course of a lifetime.  And whether those changes are caused by a lifestyle shift, hormones, medication, illness, age, growing a human inside you or some other reason, it can be difficult to manage.  As difficult as it is, it’s really important to accept that our bodies alter and shift as time passes.  It’s perfectly OK to mourn the shape and size you once were, but I think it’s also a good idea to begin to celebrate some good things about your new shape.  For example, I’m trying to feel chuffed about the fact that I finally have boobs, after years of struggling with push-up bras.  Find something that you like, celebrate that and build from there.

Get rid of clothes that trigger self hate.

This one has been hard for me, because my clothes are a huge part of my life.  I love getting dressed in the morning, and I place a lot of emotional attachment to the items in my wardrobe.  For me those skinny jeans aren’t just a couple of denim tubes and a zipper, they have the power to make me feel fierce and sexy.  And when those fierce jeans will no longer zip, their power changes….they become a trigger for self loathing.  Lately I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my clothes, and I’ve gotten rid of a few things that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear again.  There are some I’m hanging onto because there’s a chance that they’ll fit someday.  But the ones that made me feel the shittiest had to go.  It’s hard to let go of those items because of the memories attached to them, and because in a way it feels like the end of a part of my life.  But sometimes you have to take a deep breath, let them go and then buy some new gear that makes you feel fierce and fabulous.

Do you struggle with your body when it changes?  What have you done to make that change easier?

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Lessons in solo travel.

A couple of weeks ago I took a trip away by myself.  I have never been on a solo trip before, and I was both anxious and excited.  I went to a little country town called Chiltern.  I was only away overnight, but that short break was enough to recharge my batteries and bolster my self-confidence.

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 This trip was a Big Deal for me.  It confirmed to me that I was capable of throwing myself into a little adventure, and not only coming out unscathed, but ending up happier and stronger than when I left home.

Although I was only away for a little while, I learned a few things about travelling on my own.  Today I’d like to share a few of the lessons I learned from my solo mini-break.

Packing light is your best option.

Whenever my ex-boyfriend and I would head off for a trip, I would always pack a ginormous case.  Because we had the car with us, I would cram tonnes of stuff into my case and throw a few extra items onto the backseat.  I was a champion at over-packing.

This time around, I was relying on public transport to get around.  I knew that I was going to have to carry my luggage until I could check into my hotel, so I didn’t want to pack too much.  In the end, I was pretty ruthless with my packing.  I managed to get everything I needed for the weekend into one backpack.  I used every single thing that I packed, and I didn’t once think “Golly, I wish I’d remembered to throw in my hair straightener/ fancy stilettos/ extra handbag”.  You can definitely get away with packing just the bare essentials for a short trip away.

A map is a solo-traveller’s best friend.

When you’re on your own in a strange place, the last thing you want is to get lost.  It pays to be prepared by getting yourself a map of your destination and marking any important landmarks on it.  Don’t rely on your phone to help you navigate.  On my weekend away, I helped at least six groups of travelers who had gotten lost when their phone reception failed.  Don’t be afraid to whip out a paper map, because it looks way stupider than  standing on a street corner, screaming at a phone that won’t pick up a signal.

Don’t over-extend yourself.

One of the best parts about travelling on your own is that you can fill your time however you want.  You don’t have to yawn your way through a museum tour that your partner just Had To See or chow down on weird local cuisine if you don’t want to.  Before you head off, make sure that you do a bit of research on your destination and decide on your must-see sights.

However, don’t over-plan.  While it’s great to have a few pre-arranged activities, make sure that you leave yourself plenty of time to just explore at your own pace.  On my weekend trip I had a blast just walking around, strolling into random shops and visiting odd little eateries.  One of the best moments was the morning where I got up early and took a leisurely stroll around the lake, fed some ducks and wrote in my journal for an hour by the waters’ edge.  You need to leave yourself a bit of time to just be and enjoy the moment.

Expensive isn’t always better

On my final day away, I decided to order breakfast from my motel rather than go out for a meal.  The motel I chose was a simple, budget family hotel.  Although it was adequate, it was a very no-frills place.  However, the breakfast I was served that morning was one of the most delicious I’ve ever eaten.  And it cost a mere $12.

 

If you don’t have a massive budget, you can still enjoy a trip away.  Just because you haven’t spent loads of cash on your break doesn’t mean that it won’t be special.  Just spend what you can afford and enjoy the little luxuries.

 

Have you ever been on a trip by yourself?  Do you have any solo travel tips to add to this list?

How yoga has helped with my depression.

I’ve mentioned before that yoga has played a huge part in helping me to manage my depression.  Since I began doing yoga on a regular basis, I’ve noticed that my moods have been much better in general.  I’m better at coping with stressful events and when I do hit the skids and have a depressive episode, it tends not to last for as long.

So how does a bit of stretching and deep breathing help me to manage a mental illness?  In lots of ways, actually.

DSCF7804It gives me a shot of endorphins

Exercise in general is great for depression.  Exercise produces endorphins, which are naturally-occurring happy chemicals in the body.  They act like anti-depressants, balancing the chemicals that are lacking in depressed individuals and improving mood, appetite and motivation.  My daily yoga practice gives me an endorphin boost which helps to keep my depression at bay.

 

It gives me a sense of accomplishment

When I’m feeling really depressed, I have this little voice in my head that feeds me all sorts of negative messages.  It tells me that I’m a failure, that I can’t do anything right and that I’m pretty much worthless.  Overcoming that loop of horrible self-talk can be really difficult.

 

When I practice yoga, I find myself improving little by little.  Some days I’ll be able to stretch  a little further than I did the day before.  Perhaps I’ll find that I’m able to hold a balance pose without wobbling.  Or maybe I’ll manage to pull off a pose that I’ve never done before.  It’s these little improvements that give me a sense of accomplishment.  It gives me the evidence to shake my head and prove that I CAN do plenty.   Those small victories are a huge deal when you’re battling depression, so doing an activity that gives you the opportunity to improve and grow is a great idea.

 

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I have a greater respect and appreciation for my body

A big part of my depression stems from a pretty dreadful relationship with my body.  For years I hated the way I looked and tortured myself to get to a point where I could be happy with my body.  The problem was, that point never came.  No matter how much weight I lost, I still hated my body and could always find some fault with it.

 

I’ve spent the last few years working to improve my relationship with my body.  And that means taking steps to take care of myself and finding ways to make peace with my body.  Yoga has been a huge help in this area.

 

Yoga is very introspective.  It isn’t a competitive sport and you don’t need to worry about doing every pose perfectly.  It’s largely about doing what you can do, appreciating your body’s abilities and respecting your limitations.

 

Through my yoga practice, I feel as though my view of my body has changed.  I’m more able to appreciate what my body can do, rather than focusing on how it looks.  I’ve begun to realise that if I treat my body well, it serves me so much better than if I starve and punish it.  I feel that yoga has given me a greater sense of respect for my body, and I feel more at peace than ever with my physical self.

 

It’s great for stress relief

I am a terribly anxious person, and I tend to stress out about the littlest things.   That constant anxiety can be debilitating.

 

Yoga forces you to slow down and take a few deep breaths.  It’s really about focusing on what’s happening in the here and now.  After a yoga session, I feel about a million times more relaxed than when I started. When I’ve had a rough day, I try to come home and spend 20 minutes on my mat rather than curling up into a ball and panicking.  Before, I used to get anxious about my stress, which would just stress me out more!  I’d work myself into a terrible state just trying to figure out a way to settle down.  It was very counter-productive.  Now, I have an activity that I know works to help me de-stress, which takes a lot of the tension out of my day.

 

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It gives me something to look forward to each day.

I used to get really worked up when I was having a bad day.  I remember standing at work, feeling the tension bubbling up after dealing with a difficult customer.  I’d be so upset because I was feeling so horrible but I had no idea what to do to pull myself out of that slump.  I felt so frustrated and worthless, and I would become convinced that my feelings of sadness and despair would go on forever.

 

Now, I can reassure myself that I’ve got my yoga practice to look forward to.  While it doesn’t work every time, most days that twenty minute practice is enough to lift my spirits and calm me down.  Knowing that I’ve got a plan that is usually effective is a huge relief and gives me something to look forward to at the end of a hard day.

 

Do you use yoga to manage a mental illness?  Do you have another method of managing a mental illness or stress that works for you?  I’d love to hear about it.

Daily outfit 23/12/2013

It’s Christmas Eve Eve!  It has been positively sweltering here in Benalla, and I’ve been opting to wear as little clothing as possible to reduce my chance of heatstroke.  I was really feeling the glamazon vibe today, as you can tell from my outfit.

DSCF9239I am wearing:

– Mink Pink dress

– Black flatforms from Big W

– Dreamcatcher earrings from Cue

– Gold bangle bracelet (used to belong to my aunt)

– Gold owl ring from Diva

– Malachite ring (thrifted)

DSCF9240This dress was a birthday gift from my parents last year, and it’s finally warm enough to wear it.  If you’d told me when I started this blog that one day I’d post an outfit shot of me going bare-legged under a body con dress, I would have laughed in your face. I never used to wear short skirts without leggings or tights underneath.  I’ve always been extremely self-conscious about my thighs, and I’ve hidden them away for years.  But now I’ve decided that the time is ripe to let my pins out to play.

 I feel quite proud of the fact that I actually like the way I look in this dress.  I put this on this morning, looked in the mirror and thought, “I look pretty darn foxy!”  That’s a huge leap for me, because I’ve spent years utterly hating my body and wanting to change every little detail about it.  To be able to smile at myself and wear something short and tight with pride makes me realise that I’ve come a long way.  My body isn’t any more ‘perfect’ than it was a few years ago.  In fact, since then I’ve gained weight, a couple of scars and a few fine lines.  I’m just better at accepting myself than I once was.  For me, “body con dress” no longer means “body conscious”, it means “body confident!”

DSCF9241I twisted my dirty hair into a chunky high bun and piled on the jewellery to compliment this funky dress.

DSCF9246I also tried something else that I’ve always been a bit scared of: red eye makeup!  Miss Fairchild gave me some sensational eyeshadows as a gift, and among them was a gorgeous mulberry shade.  I’m a bit hesitant to wear red-based shades on my eyes, because they can make you look tired/hung-over/ vampiric but I figured out a way to make it work.  I’m really happy with this look.

So today I took quite a few fashion risks and I’m pleased with the results.  I can’t complain about that.

I hope you have an awesome Christmas Eve Eve!  Only two sleeps to go!

How to get over a break-up

Over the past few months, I’ve had a few people write to me and ask for my advice about how to get over a break-up.  I should point out that I am by no means an expert on the subject.  Yes, I’ve got through a painful break-up this year.  No, I don’t think that I’m totally over it (or even close) yet.  But I’m definitely on the right track.  I’ve tried quite a few methods to help me to get over my break up.  Several of them (crying into a glass of wine, planning the intimate details of my ex’s demise) were not helpful.  However I have found a few things that have made me feel better and have helped me back on the road to awesomeness.  Such as:

Tell people what you’re going through

In the beginning, I was very hesitant to tell people that I’d been dumped.  I felt humiliated and incredibly vulnerable, and I wanted to share that with as few people as possible.  But I soon realized that wasn’t going to be do-able.  Once I began telling people that we’d broken up, things did start to get a bit easier.  For starters, by telling your friends and family you’re making the break-up “official” and you can begin healing.  Also, once people know what is going on they’ll begin to offer their help and support. And trust me, you’re going to need it.

Say “Yes” to opportunities and invitations

When you’ve just been dumped,  socializing is going to be the last thing on your mind.  But when people hear about your predicament, they’re going to start inviting you places and offering to come around and hang out with you.  The nerve of them!

Although you might not feel like it, I’d recommend saying “yes” to as many invitations as possible.  You don’t have to knock yourself out trying to fill your calendar, but try to accept as many invitations as you can.  Socializing will get you out of the house and take your mind off things for a little while.  It will also help you to realize that you aren’t on your own, and that your life is filled with incredible people.  You don’t need your ex-partner to have a good time.

Often, when you’re in a relationship, your friends and family will be somewhat neglected. So now that you’re single again, this is a great opportunity to nurture those relationships once again.

Explore things that interest you

When I moved out on my own, I noticed that I had an awful lot of time to fill in.  Before, my evenings were spent going out on dates, hanging with my boyfriend on the couch or talking to him on the phone.  I was at a loose end.

I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to explore some of my interests.  So I sat down and made a list of absolutely all of the things that interest me, from writing and crocheting to Tudor history and costume making.  Then I tried to think of as many activities as possible that would allow me to explore these interests.  And then I started actually doing the things on the list.  It helped me to fill in my time, improved my mood, allowed me to meet new people and gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Remove triggers and relationship collateral.

When you’re in a relationship, you wind up with a whole lot of ‘stuff’ that has gathered from your union.  That ‘stuff’ includes birthday presents, love letters and kitchen appliances you bought with your lover.  When you break up, these things just serve to remind you of the love you’ve lost, and can act as a trigger to send you spiraling into a deep depression.

I found it best to get all that relationship collateral out of sight.  Some of it got thrown out, but most of it simply got put away.  I replaced all the photos of the two of us together with pictures of my friends and family.  I tossed away crummy novelty gifts and itchy ill-fitting lingerie that he’d bought for me.  I packed up all of the letters he’d sent me and put them at the back of the closet.  Purging all of those things out of my space was so cathartic.

You don’t have to throw all of the stuff away, just get it out of your sight.  Pack up the collateral and give it to a friend or family member to store until a later date.  Put it in the shed.  Whatever works for you.

Feel all the feels.

Break ups are highly emotional.  They bring up all kinds of feelings, and most of them are not very nice.  Now, if you’re anything like me you don’t like feeling down and low, so it can be tempting to deny your feelings and pretend to be “just fine”.

You might also find that you don’t react to the breakup in the way that you imagined you would.  You might discover a whole lot of anger and resentment that you never knew was there.  You might start harboring jealous tendencies.  And those feelings might scare you a bit.

It’s so important to honor your feelings and let them run their course.  Don’t try to pretend that you’re fine if you aren’t. Don’t feel ashamed if you aren’t able to breeze through this crisis in a cloud of serenity and forgiveness.  Take it easy and let them out.  Talk to a friend or relative if you need to.  Cry for hours, write in a journal or throw on some Alanis Morissette and scream into your hairbrush.  Just let yourself feel however you feel, and then move on.

Don’t see your ex.  Like, ever.

My boyfriend had been a major part of my life for nine years.  He was the person I talked to about absolutely everything.  He was there for every major event in my adult life.  So when he left, I felt like there was a huge hole in my life.  It was so tempting to pick up the phone and call him, just to hear his voice.  I started creating scenarios for that would give me an excuse to get in touch with him, or go to places where I thought I might run into him.

Let me tell you a hard truth: no matter how much you want to do those things, try your best to resist.  Every time you see your ex, it makes it harder to get over them.  Now, it might not be practical to completely cut them out of your life, particularly if you lived together and you have joint property that has to be divided up.  But I’d definitely recommend cutting out all non-essential contact with the person who broke your heart.

Re-introduce romance

You don’t need a partner to romance you.  You can do that for yourself!  Take the time to nurture yourself and celebrate the awesome person that you are.  For more information about romancing yourself, read this post.

 

Have you ever gone through a nasty break up?  How did you get through it?

New years resolution update: September

I was kind of dreading this month’s resolution: date outside the box.  When I made my resolutions at the beginning of the year, I was in a long-term relationship and I was feeling very secure.  I was excited by the idea of trying some fun new activities with my boyfriend.

Fast forward six months, and I found myself single and very unhappy about it.  I thought about leaving this resolution to fester, because I couldn’t carry it out in the way I’d originally hoped to.

Then I decided to take another look at how I could meet this challenge.  I realised very quickly that the possibility of dating someone else was out of the question.  I’m not saying that I never want to be in another relationship.  But I was with Ross for nearly a decade.  He was the man I had hoped to marry, and I’m still feeling very bruised by the end of our relationship.  I find it very difficult to even imagine opening up to another man, and it’s hard for me to believe that there might be another person out there for me.  I’ll never say never, but the simple fact is that I’m definitely not ready to start dating other people.

DSCF8370So what’s a girl to do when she’s single and has no interest in trying to attract a new boyfriend?  I figured my best bet was to try to date myself.

I sat down and made a list of all the different things I could do by myself that would be romantic.  I made a huge list, thinking of all the things I imagined my ideal partner would do for me.  Then I set out to do those things for myself.

I took myself out for a dinner of Italian food, complete with tiramisu and wine.  I went out for brunch.  I took a moonlit walk through my neighbourhood.  I soaked in rose-scented bubbles by candlelight.  I watched movies on the couch with boutique beer and fancy chips.  I bought myself a couple of cute treats.  I went thrift-shopping and walked around the lake.

DSCF7998I think I succeeded with this month’s resolution.  I definitely pushed myself outside my comfort zone and put a lot of effort into treating myself well.  All this self-romance has made me feel a lot less lonely, and I’m quite proud of how well I’ve been doing. I feel a bit more confident and happier spending time in my own company.  It’s also helped me to face some of the less-than-perfect elements of my previous relationship.  For example, while I was eating out by myself I realised that I no longer had to put up with Ross playing with his iphone at the table, or trying to force a conversation out of him (he hated having conversations in public, so our dinners out often felt a bit awkward).  While I do still miss him, it’s kind of nice to be able to see some of the not-so-great parts of our relationship to help me move forward a bit.

I’m feeling pretty good about myself at the end of this month.  I’ve done a good job with this resolution.

Romance for one.

Since I’ve found myself suddenly single, one thing I’ve been missing in my life is romance.  At first I lamented the fact that I had nobody to take me out on dates, nobody to pay me compliments or buy me little surprise treats every now and then.  After a short while, I realised that I did have someone who could do all those things: myself!

DSCF8567A lack of a partner doesn’t have to mean a lack of romance.  After all, what is romance but indulging in the good things in life, doing special things and showing someone how much they mean to you?  There’s no reason whatsoever that you can’t enjoy a bit of romance when you’re flying solo.

In many ways, romancing yourself is even better than romancing a partner.  You don’t have to stress about choosing a restaurant or movie that you’re both going to like.  There’s no anxiety over finding  the perfect gift for your significant other.  You don’t have to suffer through awkward silences or sloppy kisses.  When you romance yourself you’re free to treat yourself to the things that make you feel good, and you can be sure that you’ll appreciate your efforts.

What should I do?

So, how do you actually go about romancing yourself?  When I started thinking about doing this for myself, I sat down and made a list of all the things I’d want my perfect partner to do for me.  It included dinners out to restaurants, home-cooked brunches, going to the movies, cuddling on the couch, bubble baths and surprise gifts.

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When I really thought about it, I realised that there was absolutely no reason why I couldn’t do those things for myself.  I started taking myself out for meals to restaurants I wanted to try.  I went to the movies alone and had bubble baths.  Finding the activities I found romantic was the first step to treating myself like a lover would.

Making it special.

Right now, I can sense you rolling your eyes and thinking “But Vanessa, of course I can take myself out to dinner and buy myself presents.  But when a partner does it it’s different.  It’s so much more special when someone else is doing those things for me”.

I can understand where you’re coming from, because I thought this at first too.  But when I started dissecting that feeling, I realised two things.  First of all, one of the reasons that I felt more special when I was being romanced by a man I loved is because I put their opinions above my own.  I placed more emphasis on the fact that they thought I was beautiful or interesting than I did in my own feelings towards myself.  I had told myself that someone else loving me was more important than loving myself.  I’d given so much power to the opinions and actions of other people, which was a recipe for a lack of fulfilment.  To counter this feeling, start placing more importance in your own opinions.  Reinforce the idea that your feelings towards yourself are as important, or even more important, than what others think of you.

The second thing I realised was that when I did took myself out or did things on my own, I didn’t put as much effort into making them special as I would if I were doing them for my boyfriend.  The solution was to look for ways to make these solo activities feel special.  When I take myself out for a meal, I get dressed up as though I were going on a date.  When I watch a movie at home, I make myself some delicious snacks, light some candles and cuddle up in a warm blanket.  Dinners alone at home are made more spectacular with the use of my good china and fancy glasses.  You’d be surprised how much more elegant the most mundane solo activities can be with just a few tiny tweaks.

Slaying your doubts.

When you’re out on your own, doubts can begin to creep into your mind.  The first few times I ate on my own in restaurants I felt so self-conscious.  I was so sure that all the other diners (who were sitting with families or lovers) were gawking at me, giggling or silently wondering why I was by myself.

To overcome these thoughts, I took a hard look around myself.  What I realised was that nobody else in the restaurant was even looking at me.  They were too busy having fun with their dining partners.  I wasn’t even on their radar.  I wasn’t a laughing stock, I was free to enjoy myself and relax.

I also tried hard to focus on the good things about being out on my own.  I didn’t have to try to force a conversation. I didn’t have to put up with bad table manners or a dining partner who would steal all my chips.  I was free to order whatever I wanted, eat at my own pace and just relax.

If you’re nervous about heading out on a date by yourself, try these things.  Focus on the positives and remind yourself that nobody is looking at you and laughing.

Paying compliments.

Another thing I’ve found helpful to adding to the romantic feeling is paying myself compliments.  There’s nothing like having someone tell you how beautiful you look, or having them giggle at one of your jokes.  Before I head out, I take a look in the mirror and I tell myself that I look beautiful.  I’ll tell myself that I love the shoes I’ve chosen, or that my hair looks great.  During my ‘date’ I’ll reinforce to myself how much fun I’m having, and how great it is to spend time in my own company.

Paying yourself compliments can feel a bit awkward, but once you get the hang of it it’s a great way to boost your confidence and show yourself some love.

Solo sex.

I can’t really write a post about romancing yourself without at least touching on the issue of solo sex.  I think that a lot of people, women in particular, are nervous when it comes to the topic of masturbation and pleasuring themselves.  If you’re not comfortable touching yourself, then single life can be peppered with feelings of frustration and a lack of intimacy.

Now, I’m not going to tell you to do anything that you’re not comfortable with, but I will say that learning to take care of yourself sexually can be very liberating.  Learning what your body likes and doesn’t like can be fascinating and loads of fun to boot.  Just take it slow, make sure that you’re not rushed for time.  Be sure that you’ve got plenty of privacy and that nobody is likely to burst in on you.  Relax and have fun with it.  You might like to read this article by Violet Blue about masturbating for women.  Take the time to explore your body.  You might just find that you’re the best lover you’ve ever had.

How do you romance yourself?  Do you have any questions about solo romance that you’d like me to answer?