16 Jul Five Ways to Improve Your Body Image
People struggle with body image all year long, but the summer months can be particularly painful for many. It’s hot, which means more skin is showing for everyone and there are more activities outside that involve shorts and swimsuits, which can make you more aware of different body types.
Plus, everywhere you go, you’re bombarded with images of Photoshopped bodies in advertisements that subconsciously trigger insecure feelings so that you’ll buy their product.
It can be hard to feel good about the skin you’re in with all these factors.
However, the first step to improving body image starts with the awareness that the negative thoughts about your body are interfering with your life. When you honor the experiences, thoughts, and fears that you have about your body, you can begin to shift your thoughts and improve your relationship with your body image.
Negative self-talk about your body image isn’t motivating – it destroys your confidence and self-esteem, so the more you become aware of what isn’t helping you, the easier it will be for you to stop these thoughts in their tracks.
How to Boost Body Confidence
1. Shift Your Focus
Notice when you’re focusing on flaws. Many people believe that if they pay attention to the parts of their body they don’t like, then they will be more motivated to fix them. False.
Motivation comes from compassion and positive self-talk, not by bullying your body. Critical and negative thoughts stress and depress you, making your motivation to change harder. So the more positive you are with your body, the better you will feel emotionally and physically.
Even if it feels fake at first, notice 3-5 things you like about your body or that your body does for you everyday. Your strong legs help you walk to work or your eyes help you see (more on that in #3). Focus on the facts over the perceived flaws.
2. Avoid Engaging in Fat-Talk
When you complain about your body, it sends out a negative vibration – the thought literally makes you look for more negatives. Simply remind yourself that shaming your beautiful body will be more harmful in the long run.
If friends complain about their body image, it impacts you too. You either feel compelled to tell them they are wrong and point out a “flaw” in your body, or you end up feeling worse about yourself. Change the subject or ask your body-bashing friend about something positive in his or her life. It will change the flow of the conversation and allow you to feel better about yourself too.
3. Stop Discounting the Positive
If you focus on what’s “wrong” with your body, you will feel more insecure about everything in your life. Start pointing out the body parts that you use and need every day.
Become grateful for those strong legs for helping you walk to work or for your eyes for allowing you to read this. The more you focus on what your body does for you, the less likely you will be to get stuck in insecure thoughts.
4. Maintain a Routine
Whether it’s getting up around the same time each day, eating the meals that serve and nourish you, attending that exercise class or getting to bed around the same time each night, try to have some anchor points during the day that help you get into your body and really serve you.
The lack of structure in the summer months can lead to unhealthy routines like skipping meals or altering your normal sleep habits. This leads to less emotional regulation, making it hard to manage intrusive or insecure thoughts.
In the mental health field, we have found that the summer months often worsen mental health, and specifically eating disorder symptoms. Changes in the summer schedule can lead to an increase in anxiety, depression and negative self-talk.
The most important thing to remember is to talk to yourself the way you would to a friend or child. When you notice that you’re bullying your body, reframe it. What would you say to a friend who was talking badly about her beautiful figure? How would you help them? What encouraging and empowering things could you say?
Let these shifts in thinking empower your future thoughts and reduce the hold that negative thoughts about your body has over you.
Authored by: Emily Roberts, MA, LPC