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The Mental Health Foundation¹ found that over one-third of adults (34%) said they had felt anxious because of their body image. Feelings about body image can have a big impact on mental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned worlds upside down. Changes in routine and periods of isolation have affected eating habits and exercise routines for many. If you’ve been struggling to get to a place of peace with your body image since the pandemic began, know that you’re not alone. A new study found that COVID-19 related stress and anxiety have been associated with negative body image².
Recognising you’ve been feeling a little low, or self-critical about your body image is the first step. From here, there are actions you can take to become more body positive. Here are some tips to get you started.
Cut back on social media
The Mental Health Foundation¹ also found that one in five adults and 40% of teenagers said social media caused them to worry about their body image. All that swiping, scrolling and tapping might pass the time when you're relaxing—but it can also drain your body confidence batteries. In the long run, excessive exposure to the types of images on social media can damage mental health.
That’s why cutting back time spent on social media can be a huge help if you’re trying to become more body positive. Limiting your screen time on social media apps can help you stick to the new habit. It can also help you adopt new healthier routines. You can spare the time spent scrolling to cook up new nutritious recipes or get some fresh air with a short walk.
Try not to compare
Every body is different. It’s in our instincts to compare and a lot of the time it operates out of our conscious awareness. But comparing your body to others can cause feelings of insecurity to worsen. Try to become aware when you're pulled into comparisons. Notice the negative emotions and feelings it creates in the body.
If you can spot these comparisons when they occur, they lose their power. You can then begin to take back your power and focus your energy on tending to your body.
It can be hard to accept things we want to change. But holding on to negative thoughts and emotions surrounding situations can leave us feeling stuck—with no road out. Acceptance can help to turn down the intensity of emotions to a more manageable place. Try to sit with the emotion if you can. If it’s possible, make peace with those feelings. Writing your emotions down on a sheet of paper will help you to get them off your chest. Taking the time to do this can give you a sense of freedom. And from this place of freedom, you can create new, healthier habits.
Find the balance
A happy and healthy life is all about balance. Revolutionising your routine overnight might be tempting. But small, adoptable changes is the way to do it. Here are some ideas for finding your healthy balance in life.
¹ Mental Health Foundation, 2019. Body image: how we think & feel about our bodies. Mental Health Foundation. Available at: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/sites/default/files/DqVNbWRVvpAPQzw.pdf [Accessed August 18, 2021].
² Swami, V., Horne, G. & Furnham, A., 2021. COVID-19-related stress and anxiety are associated with negative body image in adults from the United Kingdom. Personality and Individual Differences, 170, p.110426.
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