If you have poor body image, it may impact your everyday life. The focus of this blog will be on how to improve your body image. You may limit the things you do to avoid others noticing your body. Summer is a prime time for body image concerns to peak according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. And if you live in a warm climate, the summer season is extended.
Most people do not enjoy shopping for a new bathing suit. This is the time where many will be very self-critical, noticing every bulge, or lack of muscularity in the mirror. Some people may go as far as staying away from the beach, pool parties, or outdoor activities, for fear of showing more skin.
There are so many factors that influence body image. These include family, friends, peers, social media, magazines, TV, movies, etc. Also your personal history influences how you feel about your body. If you were teased, abused, or had some sort of trauma, you may different triggers. As a parent, if you say negative things about your body, you can teach your child to do the same to him or herself. So be careful how you talk about yours. Remember, your child thinks you are the most beautiful mom or dad in the world.
Those who do not feel good about their bodies are at a greater risk for anorexia nervosa and bulimia. They may restrict their food intake, over exercise, or purge.
Ways To Improve Your Body Image
Don’t listen to your negative self-talk
A major thing you can do to improve your body image is to stop listening to that negative voice in your head. Even if you don’t like the way your body looks, go to that beach party or cookout. If you avoid certain activities, your life will become narrower. In addition, when you avoid what you fear, the fear grows. It can become a horrible cycle. You skip the party and then feel bad that you missed out on the fun. This increases the fear for the next event. As they say, ‘what you resist, persists.’
When you do so, it will get you out of your head. Mindfulness involves being aware and in the moment, in a nonjudgmental way. Don’t focus on what you look like, focus on what is going on. For example, if you are at a pool party, notice the water. Is the sun shining on it? Is the water blue or clear? Can you smell the chlorine, or feel the warmth of the sun on your body. Can you hear others playing in the water? Are you being splashed? When you focus on what is going on in the moment, there is no room for any anxiety. Stay out of your head, and stay in the moment.
Think about your amazing body
Instead of judging your body parts, or focusing on what you don’t like, think about all that your body does for you. For example, notice how your legs move you from one place to another. Think about your arms, hands, and fingers and all they do for you with their fine movements.
Focus on fun
Notice all the fun you are having with your friends and family members. Laugh with others and enjoy the time that you have together. My guess is that some memorable fun or interesting moment will occur when you are all together. Be aware of just being and talking with others. No one is focusing on your body; they just enjoy being with you.
Do you criticize others?
Ask yourself if you are sitting there criticizing the bodies of others. My guess is that you aren’t. You probably have no idea how others feel about their self. You might assume that they are happy in their own skin, and self-confident as that how it appears. Trust me, others struggle with their body image too. They may not love the way they look in a bathing suit. Yet, they aren’t going to let that get in the way of their fun. So, don’t focus so much on how you look. Go and have a fun time. And if you live in Houston, we all know that the summer season lasts much longer, so enjoy.
If you want to improve your body image, give me a call, and we can come up with a plan to help you feel better about yourself.
Debbie Grammas, PhD