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According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1-in-5 adults have experienced feelings of shame because of their body image. These findings indicate that body image issues have become a common experience. Although body image concerns aren’t necessarily a mental illness in and of themselves, they can be a risk factor for various mental health problems.
In recent years, body dissatisfaction has become increasingly common. Increasing social media usage has led many individuals to compare themselves to others. These online outlets have created idealised standards of beauty – which remain unattainable for the vast majority.
Self-criticism and comparison can lead to a lack of self-worth and negative associations with the body. However, if you do feel this way, there are certain steps you can take to practice body acceptance: accepting one’s body regardless of not being completely satisfied with all aspects of it. In this article, we’ll dive into how body image can affect mental health and provide ways you can start to improve it.
Body image encompasses how you feel about your body. These feelings can range from positive to negative and vary from day to day. But how do these feelings impact your mental health?
Body positivity is often associated with healthy habits such as being physically active, less alcohol consumption and healthy eating behaviours. As a result, a positive body image can help improve your mental health; boosting confidence and helping develop a healthy image of yourself.
On the other hand, research suggests that people with a negative body image (or body dissatisfaction) are more likely to display symptoms of depression and anxiety. In addition to psychological distress, body dissatisfaction can also increase the risk of eating disorders, which lead to negative implications on physical health.
Every body is different, as such, the ideal body varies from person to person. It is important that you don’t compare yourself to others and follow your own path to body acceptance. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Negative messages about body image are all around us and they constantly seep into our thoughts. Everyone has a right to feel comfortable and confident in their own body. It is important that you surround yourself with people who will support you – fostering a more accepting environment. By placing yourself in a supporting, uplifting environment you are more likely to feel confident and secure.
Self-celebration is an effective support tool for accepting your body. To practice this, you should give yourself constant encouragement – whether that be verbal reminders like saying something positive to yourself each morning or physical reminders such as leaving positive notes around the house. When combined, these positive affirmations will cheer you up and help you accept your body.
As previously mentioned, social media has played a significant role in creating the idealised standards of beauty. These standards can have a negative effect on the user – as they create “unrealistic ideals for themselves based on what they see” says Neha Chaudhary, M.D. at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
According to a recent study, there is a direct correlation between time spent on social media and body image perception. The study found that people who spend more time on social are more likely to have a negative body image. This is mostly due to the user comparing their appearance to others. As such, avoiding these idealised standards can help with body acceptance.
Avoiding these images can be difficult, especially if you wish to remain online. You should always be sceptical of what you see on social media. Remember, these images are a snapshot, a perfect moment in these people’s lives.
In the current digital age, it may be challenging to delete your social media accounts and step away from the online environment. However, limiting your social media usage and unfollowing the accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, can help. You don’t have to completely avoid the internet and social media; you just need to be aware that the images you see are not a true representation of everyday life and everyday bodies.
Dealing with issues such as body dissatisfaction can be trying. By practising the above techniques, you can begin to accept the body you have.
Nonetheless, if you would like to receive more information about body acceptance and fostering body positivity, please get in touch via our helpline.
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