We are surrounded with online images of people and celebrities that show us a certain body type. And this certain body type and body image is what we are led to believe is the “perfect look”. Through extensive social media accounts and online news we then look at ourselves and compare ourselves to others. This can sometimes make us feel good, but more often than not it has a negative effect on our mental health. The good news is that this topic is becoming more openly talked about and positive body image is a phrase you may have heard.
What Is Body Image?
It is the way we think and feel about ourselves and how we believe others see us. There might be times when you look at yourselves and like certain parts of your body and times when you struggle with how you look. This isn’t just referring to weight – body image covers lots of areas such as:
– Struggling to love yourself and your body
– Comparing yourself to others
– Hiding your body because you feel ashamed
– Feeling like you are not attractive
– Scars, birthmarks etc
– Struggling to find clothes that fit your body shape
Our body image is often influenced by what is going on around us, especially by social media, characters on TV shows or adverts about “improving your body”. Comments from others can heavily influence how we feel about ourselves.
A list of tips isn’t going to instantly make you feel more positive about your body image but they will help to start to look at yourselves in a healthier way. The more you practice these new thought patterns, the better you will feel about how you look and the body you have.
Here are our 6 top tips for creating a positive body image:
#1 Be Kind To Yourself
This sounds easier said than done, but be kind to yourself and your body. Try not to compare yourself to images you see online and in magazines, these have been heavily edited to show “the perfect body image” which is unrealistic.
Think about what your body has done for you and been through, maybe birthed your children, been through surgery or survived an accident. And although these things may have caused changes or scars to your body, be kind to yourself and remember that your body has been through a lot.
#2 Be Around Positive People
As mentioned before, negative body image can come from comments from others around us. It is easier to feel better about yourself if you are surrounded with people who are supportive. They can recognise the importance of liking yourself and who you are and can help you feel that way about yourself. We need to have positive role models in our lives and it might help you to note down positive things people say about you to look at another time.
#3 Tidy Up Your Apps
Have a think about what social media accounts you follow. Do these people promote a positive body image and make you feel good about yourself? Or do they make you compare your body to theirs and feel down? If they don’t have a positive effect on you, then unfollow them and replace it with someone who promotes positive body image. If the app in general makes you feel stressed then take a break or remove yourself entirely.
#4 Make A List
Along with noting down positive comments that others say to you, also try to keep a list of what you like about yourself. To start, note things that are not related to weight or the way you look. As you read it often and start to become more aware, slowly add to it as you notice new things you like about yourself and start to include things about the way you look.
#5 The Voices In Our Head
When you look at yourself in the mirror, don’t talk to yourself about the parts of your body that you don’t like, or the areas you are uncomfortable with. Shut out the negative voices in your mind that tell you you aren’t good enough. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones by using affirmations that will help change the way you think over time. When we think positively about ourselves, we carry ourselves with confidence and self-acceptance.
#6 Talk To Someone
It is really important to talk to people about the way you are thinking or feeling. Find someone who is supportive and trustworthy and will listen to your feelings and understand. It could be someone at home, your parents or a sibling or other family member. It may even be someone at school or work who you can trust, or even a therapist like we have here at OxfordCBT.
If your negative thoughts are starting to affect your mental health or cause your significant stress it is vital that you talk to a professional.
All clinicians at Oxford CBT are Cognitive Behavioural Therapists or Psychologists, offering evidence-based interventions and support for a range of issues for both young people and adults. If you would like to book an appointment you can do so on our online booking portal. If you have a question please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 01865 920077.