Body perception is something that we all share. Some of us might have a positive view of our bodies, while some see their body and feel shame and regret. It’s a difficult position to be in, as family, friends, and media constantly put pressure on you to change, even when it’s not as simple as making a single decision. With all of this in mind, having a positive body image is very important, as it’s a huge part of your daily life and self-image.
If you find yourself hating your body, taking a few steps towards improving this image would go a long way. Here are a few tips to help with this journey.
1. Show appreciative language
There’s a big part of us that’s defined by the language we use. It’s not just something that helps us communicate our thoughts. It also shapes them. When you use harsh words to describe your own body, you’re definitely going to feel bad about it. Refocus your self-talk away from nitpicking and towards a more positive outlook.
There are lots of wonderful things that your body does for you that shouldn’t go unappreciated. When’s the last time you gave your body props for taking you through a difficult and challenging task? When you carry several bags of groceries in one hand while carrying your little munchkin in the other, you probably don’t think about all the muscles that are working overtime to make it happen. When you get hit with the flu, the fact that your body can fight through just to let you reach the bathroom is amazing in of itself.
Remember to show appreciation for your body’s feats every now and then. You’re going to feel a lot better about it and it will feel like your own personal moving fortress.
2. Keep notes of positive thoughts
While staying positive sounds good and dandy in theory, it tends to be a lot harder in practice. If you don’t feel particularly good about your body, all it takes is a bad day to steer you away from a positive self-image. Even the strongest among us have doubts every now and then, even though many wouldn’t admit so.
While our current thoughts can’t be trusted with keeping us positive, past ones might. Written words don’t depend on our mood at the time. What’s written down stays there, and serves as a reminder for when your mind isn’t cooperating. Take notes of all the things you love about your body. Everything from your strongest moments to your most surprising discoveries should be written down. This way, any time that you feel negative thoughts coming in, you can remind yourself with some positive examples that you might not be able to recite while in a bad mood.
It might seem silly, but it’s a perfectly good way to get your spirits up and improve your body image. Our minds aren’t perfect, and it’s hard to be objective when there’s a very strong emotional tie to your body.
4. Occupy yourself with more important things
Life is a little too short to worry about meaningless things. The way you see your body might not be representative of its true form, and it’s not a particularly productive part of your day. Thinking about it is only going to distract you from the things that really matter in life.
For the sake of arguing, try to imagine that you only have a year or month to live from this point on. Is something like body image going to be your top priority? Probably not. You’re more likely to think about reuniting with people, visiting places, and achieving your dreams. Try to take this approach, albeit in a less literal way. Stick to the things that are truly important to you, and you’ll find that your confidence and body image will improve naturally along the way. Overthinking can be quite a harmful process.
5. Stop with the comparisons
It’s hard not to compare yourself with others. When you spend time with someone else, you might see something in them that you envy. This is perfectly natural, but it’s still something you should avoid thinking about. It’s a quick way to get yourself in a bad mood.
Comparisons are the bane of confidence. There’s no reason to take someone else at face value and assume that they’re in some way better than you. You can’t possibly know their story and how they feel. Keep in mind that they certainly have their insecurities, even if they might not be immediately apparent.
Worse yet, comparing yourself to others takes away from your own uniqueness. You shouldn’t want to be someone else. Everything that’s a part of you makes you unique in many different ways. Whether it’s your body, your mannerisms, or your voice, it’s something you should never be ashamed of.
6. Build a supportive environment
A big part of how we think and feel depends on our environment. How we were raised, the school we went to, the friends we made, and everything in-between influences our thoughts. While we can’t necessarily affect our upbringing nor our middle school choice, the rest of our environment is something we can change.
The people we surround ourselves with have an enormous impact on our perspective and mood. If there’s a lot of pessimism and negativity around you, it could affect your perception of yourself. It’s not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with having some pessimistic or negative friends, but it does rub off on you to some degree.
Try to create an environment in which you’ll feel validated and positive. Different types of people can have a very positive influence on you. This doesn’t mean you should ditch friends with bad habits or mindsets. Try to inject a little positivity into the mix and introduce more cheerful and supportive individuals to friend groups. Find individuals that champion you and want to help you progress further than before. It’s going to do a lot of good for your mental well-being.
7. Treat yourself properly
Many body image issues stem from a little extra weight here and there. One of the most common ways that people deal with this is with dieting and exercise. The issues start coming in when these methods don’t prove to be effective for very long. Insecurity intensifies, as putting in extra effort and failing to achieve results can feel even worse. The problem is that this isn’t the best place to start with your journey.
Food is something we all enjoy, and there should be no shame in that. You would be surprised at how much the way we eat influences the taste and effects of food. Many individuals aren’t very mindful of how they consume food. Delicious food and treats need to be savoured and treated as an experience.
When you treat eating as something special, you can enjoy food even more, while also easily relinquishing a lot of products that aren’t exactly healthy. Try to only eat in a quiet and relaxing environment which allows you to completely savour your meal. Eat slowly and take note of every flavour you taste. This will train your palate and you’ll be better able to taste the subtle flavours behind every meal. Mindful eating often improves people’s diets, as they start enjoying different kinds of food just for the flavour. It makes unhealthy and processed foods less desirable, leading to healthier nutrition, while also turning every meal into a delicious experience.
8. Don’t avoid the mirror
A negative body image breeds negative thoughts. When you think about your body, you feel bad, so you try to avoid these kinds of thoughts as often as possible. However, it becomes harder to avoid when you see it in front of you. Looking in the mirror exacerbates this negativity and makes you feel even worse. You feel like avoiding the mirror will keep you from those negative thoughts, but it only delays them for a time.
Avoidance only breeds avoidance, which is bad for your self-esteem. Instead of glancing away from every reflective surface, you need to start embracing your reflection. Whenever you look in the mirror, try to see yourself as you truly are. Take a look at those positive notes you’ve written and start associating them with your body. It takes effort to avoid feeling bad about your image, and this effort would be better spent on positive thoughts rather than avoidance.
Remind yourself that it’s your body and you don’t have to hate it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel better about yourself or making changes. You can turn your mirror into a reminder that things will be better, so long as you start to believe this.
9. Nourish your body
When your body feels unhealthy and malnourished, it’s going to affect how you view it. Our nutrition is a much bigger influence on mental health than we might expect. A lack of vitamins and key macronutrients is going to make you feel weak and lethargic. It’s something that you blame on your body, and your body image starts to deteriorate.
Providing your body with adequate nourishment and nurture will make you feel a lot better in your own skin. Adding diverse food groups to your diet allows you to get all the vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Foodstuffs like fish provide us with vitamin D and good fatty acids. Nuts contain healthy fats and minerals that processed food probably doesn’t.
If you’re regularly exercising to improve your body image, you need more protein in your diet. This macronutrient isn’t just good for increasing muscle mass, it also helps keep nutrition in check. Protein leaves you sated, which means you’re less likely to want to snack after consuming it.
A lot of that muscle recovery happens late at night while you’re asleep. If you work out, your body will crave lots of protein to rebuild muscles during this period. Having some bedtime protein before you drift away to sleep would help your body achieve this. You would start seeing results a lot quicker if your muscles could recover that swiftly.
The faster you reach your goals, the better you’ll feel about your efforts. This will reinvigorate your confidence and show you that you can achieve anything with some effort and dedication. Remember that nutrition is a huge part of that effort, so make sure you pay close attention to it.
10. Deal with underlying issues
Underneath all the self-loathing and negative thoughts, you’ll often find problems that reach below the surface. Many body image issues are a sign of an underlying dissatisfaction with oneself. The negative perspective is only a manifestation of the problems, which need to be resolved if you wish to feel better about your body.
To unravel the source of these issues, you might want to confide with your close ones. Explain how you feel and why you feel a certain way. Together, you can reach the core of your problems and come to some realizations about your insecurities. If you don’t feel like you can trust someone with this, consulting a therapist might be the better option.
It might seem unusual to talk about your deepest issues with a stranger with no vested interest, but it can be liberating. There’s a reason therapists are recommended to individuals with body image issues. They can help you come to terms with deeper issues and show you how to resolve them.
There are lots of reasons someone might feel bad about their body. Some people aren’t satisfied with their overall shape or muscles, while others are ashamed of their weight. This lack of confidence harms people and makes them feel like they are less worthy than they truly are. It’s because of this that body image problems need to be tackled with care. When it’s your confidence on the line, it’s important to act.
These issues can affect every aspect of your life, from how you feel at work to how you approach partners. It’s crucial that you take small steps as to not overwhelm yourself with changes. Consider some of the above tips to help you get through this difficult period and you’ll eventually learn to love and appreciate your body more.