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Summer is in full swing, and holidays are on the horizon. For some, this might trigger worries about physical appearance and the pressures of a summer body.
The body acceptance movement has come a long way in recent years, with greater representations of bodies of all shapes and sizes. But there’s still a way to go, the pressure to look a certain way persists, and research shows this could be the link between the rise in cosmetic procedures and Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
Studies also highlight the negative impact of increased social media usage on body image. Social media allows people to share a snippet of their lives, known as the highlight reel. This purposely selected snippet can sometimes give way to unhelpful comparisons with others.
The pressure to look a certain way can bring up a range of feelings and emotions. These feelings might be particularly prominent during the summer when wearing lighter clothing, getting in swimwear on holiday or attending a social event. It could range from mild insecurities to intense anxiety or low mood.
Everyone’s experience of body image is different; there’s no right or wrong way to feel. If you notice that body image pressures have been impacting you lately, try the below tips to help you overcome them.
One of the main contributors to body-image issues can be negative self-talk. This inner narrative could be self-criticism around body image, negative thoughts about your physical appearance or putting yourself down. These thoughts might become repetitive, and over time you might start to hold them as beliefs about yourself. If left unchallenged, these negative beliefs can have an impact on interactions with others and general self-concept.
To combat this, try to observe your thoughts objectively, not as facts. Take a step back and challenge the thought cycle. Would you speak like this to a friend? Is this a true reflection of who you are? When you reflect on these thoughts, you might find that they are fuelling the negative emotions you’re experiencing. Once you become aware of this cycle, it can help you step out of these unhelpful habits and into a more self-reflecting way of mind.
As we mentioned earlier, how you use social media can affect your body image. This is why it’s so important to be mindful of your social media habits and how they could be affecting you. It’s not necessarily that we need to cut social media out of our lives altogether because there are things we can do to minimise any negative effects.
Pay attention to how you feel as you engage with social media. Are there any accounts you follow that leave you feeling bad about yourself? It can be good to undertake a detox now and again and unfollow any negativity you find on your feed. Follow accounts that celebrate body positivity and promote healthy attitudes. You could also try to cut down time spent on social media by setting screen time limits or switching off after a set time in the evenings.
Body image has a big impact on self-esteem—and vice versa. So improving self-esteem can go a long way toward overcoming any body image pressures you might be experiencing. By working to improve yourself in other ways, you improve your sense of worth and overall life satisfaction. Try the techniques below:
Set achievable goals. Set a new challenge for yourself like taking a new class or trying a new activity. Try to make this an attainable goal in something you enjoy.
Learning to say no. Don’t overstretch yourself. Pause before you agree to things and practise saying no to things you don’t want to do. Begin setting boundaries with others and remember to put your wellbeing first.
Take care of your wellbeing. A lot goes into staying healthy, so ensure you’re coving all basis and looking after yourself. Prioritise sleep, a balanced diet, physical exercise, time outdoors and make time for things you enjoy.
Remember that you are more than your physical appearance. Everyone is unique, and this is something to be celebrated. Try to practise self-acceptance and focus on identifying personality traits you like about yourself instead. Avoid comparing yourself to others and celebrate exactly what makes you, you!
For more information on body image issues, please get in touch with one of our wellbeing experts at Health Assured on: 0800 206 2547
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