We’re hearing a lot about body positivity lately. Celebrities are calling out photoshop for promoting unattainable standards. Influencers are embracing their ‘flaws’ and celebrating their real and raw form, sans filter.
Change is in the air. But even with this social movement of body positivity, it’s not always easy to maintain a positive body image – especially if you’ve spent years criticising yourself.
If you’re wondering how to improve your body image and shift to a healthier mindset, these steps might help you feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin.
1. Appreciate what your body can do
Most of us are lucky enough to have able bodies that get us where we need to go and allow us to do the things we enjoy. From walking and running to dancing and hugging your dog, our bodies have done a lot for us over the years. Count your blessings and celebrate everything your body can do for you.
2. Make a list of things you love about yourself
We’re all guilty of focusing on our ‘flaws’ when we look in the mirror. It’s normal to have body hang-ups, but giving all your energy to these physical ‘imperfections’ can magnify them and make you feel even more self-conscious.
Instead, make a list of all the things you like about your appearance, and keep it somewhere you’ll see it every day – like on your bedroom mirror or inside your day planner.
3. Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself
Social media can be a great way to stay connected, but it can also leave you feeling less than. An American study revealed that 87% of women and 65% of men compare their bodies to images they see on social and traditional media.
If you spend time comparing yourself to unrealistic beauty standards on social media, it might be time to reconsider why you’re accessing that content and whether it’s worth feeling down on yourself after scrolling.
4. Seek out social media accounts that reinforce positive self-image
While social media cops a lot of criticism for promoting an unhealthy body ideal, it can also positively impact body image. You can curate your social media to follow accounts that set out to empower users and inspire self-acceptance.
Recent research found that “brief exposure to body-positive Instagram posts resulted in improved body image and mood in young women, compared to idealised and appearance-neutral posts.”
Seeking out body-positive accounts may help boost your body confidence.
5. Challenge negative thoughts and self-talk
Negative self-talk can have toxic and long-lasting effects on us. And while we may not be able to banish our inner critic overnight, we can take steps to challenge and minimise negative thoughts over time, such as:
- Recognise when you’re being hard on yourself. If you wouldn’t say that to someone you care about, why would you say it to yourself?
- Ask yourself if your thoughts are factual or just based on your interpretation and how you’re feeling in that moment.
- Replace the bad with some good by shifting focus to the things you like about yourself, the great chat you had with a friend recently, or the weekend plans you’re looking forward to.
6. Wear clothes that make you feel good about yourself
No outfit should be off limits if you feel great in it. Your clothes should make you feel comfortable and confident, whatever your body shape. Just as there are endless body shapes, there are endless clothing items that are designed to enhance them.
Find clothes that help you express yourself and make you feel good about how you look.
7. Treat your body with some self-care
Show your body some gratitude and treat yourself to a pedicure or new haircut. A bit of pampering can go a long way for your confidence, and who doesn’t love an excuse to indulge a little?
Self-care activities such as massages and yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety as well as help you maintain good physical health and body image. Win-win!
8. Accept compliments
Do you meet compliments with a grunt or a rebuttal? Accepting praise can be hard for a few reasons. Research shows that while 88% of people associate recognition with a feeling of being valued, 70% also associate it with embarrassment.
Our knee-jerk reaction of refusing a compliment also refuses us the mental health benefits of receiving positive feedback. It may feel unusual at first, but try saying thank you next time someone gives you a compliment. You might find it improves your relationship with yourself and with the person offering you praise.
9. Find a workout you love
We’ve all heard the science behind how exercise makes us happy. Moving every day can benefit your mood, sleep, and even your memory and learning. Not to mention, seeing the results of regular exercise can greatly improve your self-esteem.
Find a workout you love – whether it’s simply going for a walk or following a workout on YouTube – and feel the mental and physical post-exercise boost for yourself.
10. Look at yourself as a whole person
It’s important to see yourself as more than what you see in the mirror. Instead of solely judging yourself by your physical attributes, look at yourself as a whole person with wonderful qualities your friends and family love you for.
Want to talk to someone about your relationship with your body? Our counsellors have experience with a range of topics, including body image. Learn more about our confidential counselling services.