Five Ways To Improve Your Body Image

By Sarah Strumeier

In today’s society, many people struggle with body image issues due to societal expectations to be thin. As a result, people then criticize their bodies and believe there is something wrong with how they look and perceive themselves in the mirror. Body image issues are not gender specific and many people have difficulties voicing the negative thoughts they are experiencing in their head surrounding their body image. Sometimes not voicing these negative thoughts surrounding body image can contribute to negative self-talk, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Below are some ways that you can start improving your body image. Hopefully the more you practice these ways, the better you will feel about yourself and image.
1. Challenge Your Negative Thoughts
Sometimes people have negative thoughts surrounding not being content with how they look and are unhappy with what they see in the mirror. A way to be more mindful of having an improved body image is to develop awareness with how you are speaking to yourself and challenge those negative thoughts. In the process of this, ask yourself where these thoughts come from and whether it is true. Challenging negative thoughts is a technique often used in cognitive behavioral therapy. This can be helpful in evaluating if your negative thoughts are true or not and can begin to help you improve how you perceive your body image.
2. Appreciate Your Body
More often than not, many of us do not realize how much our bodies do for us. What our bodies go through on a daily basis keeps us alive and helps us function. If we try to look at our bodies in this way for example, we may respect and appreciate our bodies more often which in turn can help in improving our body image. A way to appreciate your body is to rest, nourish with food, practice self-care, and to self-reflect on how your body helped you get through the day.
3. Focus On The Positives About Your Body
A way to start improving your body image is to find any positives on how you feel about your body. A way to find positives is to ask yourself questions such as what do you like about your body? Why do you like that about your body? Finding and taking the positives can help us see that there are possibly more positives about our bodies than negatives. Another way to find the positives about your body is to keep a daily journal of positive affirmations about your body image.
4. Practice Mindfulness Surrounding Your Media Use/How Social Media Impacts Your Body Image
As you scroll through your phone on Instagram, you may find that some photos you see are not realistic. A lot of photos people or companies may post may be edited by platforms such as Photoshop. These photos are enhanced to look a certain way because societal expectations tell us that this is more appealing. If you also spend a lot of time watching television, you may also notice that a lot of shows glamourize being thin. Due to how social media and the media portrays body image, comparing and contrasting can take place which can contribute to negative body image issues. Limiting internet and screen time may be helpful if this is potentially triggering for you.
5. Seek Support From Body-Positive People
Do you ever notice how your family and friends talk about their own bodies and body image? The way your family and friends talk about their body can definitely impact the way you look at your body and speak to yourself. If you are struggling with negative body image issues, you may not want to interact with people who are making negative comments about their own body, as well as yours! There are also many body-positive communities online that you can join or find a support group in the area where you can meet with others who are also struggling with body image issues.
If you are having negative thoughts about your body image and it is impairing your day to day functioning, it is important to seek help from a therapist or another healthcare professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be very effective with those struggling with body image issues. A CBT therapist can help you figure out where these thoughts may be coming from in order to help you reframe how you think about yourself and how you speak to your body. Therapy can also be helpful in reducing it from becoming more of a serious problem, such as developing an eating disorder or body dysmorphia. It is important to feel good, comfortable, and love your body at all shapes and sizes and embrace your body for what it is!