As Eating Disorder Awareness Week continues, today we examine the issue of positive body image and offer advice on helping you to deal with those days when you most suffer from negative body image.
It’s worth looking at some recent clinical research on the very important issue, states AMH everyBODY Project Worker Deborah McCready.
“People who accept themselves are more likely to engage in health promoting behaviours. Research (Cohen et al 2019) showed that viewing body positive content was associated with improved mood, body satisfaction, body appreciation and self-care. In contrast, it is evidenced that weight stigma (WHO – “negative attitudes, and beliefs about others because of their weight”) poses a health risk.
“Shame and stigma cause people to avoid medical treatment, gyms, social interactions, whilst also contributing to levels of chronic stress, shown to contribute to inflammation and poor health outcomes. At its core, body positivity and its principles are about acceptance, inclusivity and respect. It is stating that all body types have intrinsic value,” she says.
The road to recovery is about showing that health is not a one size fits all scenario. “By showing more body diversity and representation we can reduce some of the body dissatisfaction that is caused by shaming and alienating certain body types. When we show respect and encouragement to all body types we can help to put an end to some of the harm weight stigma causes.”
Breathe. Mindfulness is a great way to connect with your body and develop a greater appreciation of it. There are lots of free apps such as Headspace and Oak that can help with this.
Practice body gratitude. What are you grateful for your body for? Think of all the things it does for you.
Write it down. Journaling can be a really healthy outlet for your emotions.
Challenge your inner critic. Practice reframing those negative thoughts. For example, if you think ‘my tummy is too big’, try coming up with a positive thought replacement such as, ‘my tummy contains life sustaining organs that need space to function’
Dress comfortably. If you are conscious about a particular aspect of your body, wear clothes that don’t emphasise your insecurities.
Talk to yourself like you would a friend. What advice would you give them if they told you they were struggling with the way they look?
Be kind to yourself. Create a comfort list of simple things you can do to offer yourself a moment of kindness (music/affirmations/activities). If you find kindness too difficult using neutral comments can also be helpful. “I have a body but it does not define my worth.” “I am more than my appearance.”
Be mindful of social media. Social media can encourage unhealthy comparison between ourselves and seeming ‘perfect’ others. Be aware that not everything we see online reflects reality. Maybe you need some time to disconnect?
Body image fluctuates. Remember, how you feel is not permanent.
If you live in the Southern Health Trust Area you can contact the AMH everyBODY Team – T: 028 3839 2314 or E: [email protected]