Learning How to Address Body Image
For many, body image is a topic that heavily influences habits, diets, and overall lifestyle. Despite popular belief, body image isn’t just a female-centered issue. Body image effects men, women, teenagers, adults, and people of many different backgrounds. Our sense of body image is largely shaped by our peers and social influences, and in a society filled with instant internet access and constant media exposure, advertisements portraying flawless bodies are increasingly leading us to compare our own bodies.
Beyond the unhealthy comparisons and unrealistic expectations, body image is an issue that also influences self-esteem, perceived sense of worth, and physical health. Here are a few things to remember when struggling with your body image:
Gratitude: Remember the positives and have gratitude for all the things your body can do. Make a list of things you find positive about your body and read your list when you feel low. Celebrate your body because whether you like it or not, you only have one, so treat it well!
Your Body is more than an Image: Honor the hardships, labors, and physical tasks your body undergoes on a daily basis. Your body is more than just looks – it is constantly circulating air through your lungs and maintaining a heartbeat to keep you alive! Celebrate your ability to eat, laugh, love, and dream.
Listen to Your Body: One of the best ways to address what your body really needs is to tune in and listen to it. It is important to have an awareness for what feels good or what is painful for your own body. Every body type is different. Understanding your personal boundaries for diet and exercise can go a long way; use this awareness as a measurement for finding out what your body really needs rather than wholeheartedly relying on generalized diet trends. Incorporate healthy eating and exercise and pay attention to how that makes YOUR body feel.
Identify and Alter Negative Thoughts: The thoughts in your brain travel through neural pathways that strengthen over time. The more we use the same neural pathways, the stronger they become. This is why some repetitive thoughts seem to be true – even when they may not be. If you look in the mirror everyday and repeat to yourself that you are ugly, those pathways are strengthened. If, instead, you repeatedly tell yourself you are worthy, those neural pathways will be strengthened instead. Consider altering your self-talk daily and see how that will change your neural pathways.
Learn to love your body for what is it despite the urge to compare to others. Each body type is different, just like every personality is different. That is what makes you unique. If you or a loved one are struggling with body image issues, you can find nonjudgmental support and professional help with therapists found through the Counseling California directory. Our MFTs are committed to helping you succeed. Visit our directory today to find more information about body image and eating disorders.
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