Commit to Positivity This Summer
With the days getting longer and the temperatures rising, summer is right around the corner. For many people, summer is a season to get outdoors and soak up as much sun as possible. However, the approach of summer can be a source of anxiety and other adverse emotions for folks struggling with negative body image issues. Body image refers to the way a person sees themselves physically. It also includes their beliefs about their appearance and feelings about their body. A negative body image arises when a person feels that their body doesn’t measure up to the expectations of the media, their parents, their friends, or society. Signs of a negative body image can include body dissatisfaction, a preoccupation with weight or appearance, depression, and unhealthy behaviors in order to control weight, such as crash dieting, taking laxatives, or smoking cigarettes.
Strategies for a Positive Body Image
While the skimpier clothing is one of the reasons summer can be so difficult for those with body image issues, it certainly isn’t the only one. This is the season the media goes into full-on blitz mode. Headlines start to scream about “beach-ready” diets, the latest bikini fashions, and 10-minute miracle ab workouts. It seems that whether a person goes outside or stays indoors, these triggers are going to be everywhere. With that in mind, we’d like to share a few strategies that can promote a positive body image this summer.
Focus on Gratitude
This one shows up a lot in these blogs, and for good reason. An article in the Washington Post details some of the research that’s been done on the effects of gratitude and it turns out that “gratitude not only goes along with more optimism, less anxiety and depression, and greater goal attainment, but also is associated with fewer symptoms of illness and other physical benefits.” Instead of focusing on negative criticisms, spend some time be thankful for all of the amazing things that your body can do.
Watch What You Watch
Speaking of criticism, how about turning a critical eye toward the barrage of images and messages that the media is going to hit you with this summer. Being able to point out that “that’s airbrushed,” “that’s lighting,” “that’s a filter,” is a good way to remind yourself that these things aren’t reality. Furthermore, they have nothing to do with beauty and everything to do with separating people from their money.
Stick with the Winners
This is another one that comes up often here. And what works in recovery will work for a positive body image. Like the motivational speaker, Jim Rohn said, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If you’re always hanging out with people who are gossiping about others and obsessing over appearance, it’s going to affect you. Try to spend more time with people who are happy with who they are and happy to be alive.
Do Something Nice for Your Body
Your body is the only one you’ll get so take some time to do something positive for it. This might be going to get a massage, taking a long hike, or just hanging out in a bubble bath. Anything to let your body know that it is appreciated.
As we’ve pointed out in a previous blog, it’s possible for negative body image issues to lead to eating disorders. In fact, the indicators of negative body image listed in the first paragraph are also signs that someone may have an eating disorder. As many as 30 million people in the United States are suffering from some type of eating disorder. If you or someone you love is one of them, please seek professional help today.