If you struggle with poor body image, you're not alone. Research shows that a staggering 91% of women report feeling unhappy with their bodies. While most studies have examined women, men seem to be just as vulnerable to these insecurities.
Improving your body image can help you feel more confident, satisfied, and present in your everyday life. While it isn't easy, it is possible to feel more accepting of how you look. Let's get into the top tips.
Practice Combating Negative Body Talk
What automatic messages do you tell yourself about how you're supposed to look? When you struggle with poor body image, what other thoughts come to mind? For example, do you think you're ugly? Stupid? Undeserving of love or happiness?
These messages can undoubtedly run deep, and they can erode your confidence and quality of life. That's why it's so important to recognize body shaming and address it quickly.
The next time you start bashing yourself, pause. Think about what that body part brings to you. Think about how hard it works to keep you alive and healthy. Consider its role in optimizing your well-being.
It might not be realistic to "love" a certain body part right away. That's reasonable. But focusing on its functional role- instead of just its aesthetic role- can make a tremendous difference in improving your mindset.
Find Positive Role Models
Social media can skew your perception of a normal body. Research shows that over two-thirds of people compare themselves to people online, and most of the time, the comparison leads them to feel unsatisfied or upset.
It's simple to alter any photo to make someone look perfect. And even if we know the images have been edited, we're still susceptible to feeling insecure after looking at them.
Instead, aim to be mindful of your social media consumption. Consider taking a complete break and seeing how it feels. If you enjoy connecting online, try to find and follow positive role models of people with real bodies and appearances. Remember that most online influencers want to sell a product or story- you don't have to fall prey to it!
Engage in Hobbies That Make You Feel Good
Many times, confidence is an inside job. The more you embrace activities that make you feel strong, confident, and engaged, the more likely you are to appreciate yourself.
The opposite can also be true. If you only focus on aesthetic goals, you risk feeling resentful, burnt-out, or even more insecure.
Think about the activities and hobbies that make you feel good. Would you engage in them even if they had no positive impact on your body? If so, those are the ones to pursue. It means that you can enjoy them without worrying about how you look or how many calories you burn.
Meditation is beneficial for nearly every mental health issue. Increasing mindfulness- and prioritizing your ability to stay present- can help you feel less stressed and more empowered in your everyday life.
If you struggle with meditation, consider participating in guided self-compassion practices. These scripts often focus on themes of gratitude and radical acceptance. Even just a few minutes a day of slowing down each day can drastically restore your spirits.
Seek Internal Validation
It's reasonable to enjoy compliments from other people. We all enjoy feeling praised or important, especially if we're having a rough day.
But if you consistently depend on external validation for feeling worthy, you'll ultimately be left feeling disappointed and restless. That's because external comfort is often fleeting and somewhat meaningless. Furthermore, someone else's words won't mean much if you don't believe them yourself!
Instead, try to focus on how you can affirm yourself each day. What do you like about your personality? What are your favorite parts of yourself? What makes you special and unique in this world? Focus on channeling those traits and the rest will inevitably fall into place!
Poor body image can invariably stem from trauma, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. In other words, it's often a symptom of other problems- many times, this immense anger is a tangible way to project your fears, shame, and insecurities.
Therapy can help you address these sensitive issues safely and appropriately. With your therapist's support, you can learn how to recognize negative thoughts and challenge them. You will also receive appropriate coping skills for managing your distress as it arises.
Final Thoughts on Improving Your Body Image
Loving your body unconditionally isn't easy. Unfortunately, we live in a society that often perpetuates chronic themes of self-loathing and perfectionism. Be mindful of these pressures, and remember that you don't have to subscribe to them.
At The Mental Health House, we help people heal from their pasts and embrace dynamic futures. We're here for you and your loved ones. Contact us today to get started!