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Creating a Positive Body Image: Tips and Strategies for Loving Your Body

Having a positive body image is important for both physical and mental health. It means having a healthy and realistic perception of your body, and feeling comfortable and confident in it. Unfortunately, negative body image is a common issue, especially for women and girls, who are bombarded with unrealistic and unhealthy beauty standards. In this article, we'll explore the importance of positive body image, and provide some tips for cultivating it.

We are all different.

First and foremost, it's important to recognize that everyone's body is different, and that's a good thing. Our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no one "perfect" body type. It's important to embrace and celebrate your unique body, rather than trying to fit into someone else's idea of what is attractive or desirable.

Media messages.

It's also important to be mindful of the media and messaging you consume. Many media sources promote unhealthy or unrealistic beauty standards, which can lead to negative body image. Instead, seek out sources that promote body positivity and diversity, and surround yourself with people who support and celebrate your unique body. More on this later.

Celebrate your unique body.

Positive body image is important for both physical and mental health. It involves embracing and celebrating your unique body, engaging in self-care practices, being mindful of the media you consume, and shifting your focus away from appearance. By cultivating a positive body image, you can feel comfortable and confident in your own skin.

Think outside the box.

Try to shift your focus away from appearance and towards other aspects of your life that bring you joy and fulfilment. This could be hobbies, relationships, or career goals. By focusing on what truly matters to you, you can develop a more positive and confident attitude towards your body.

Learn to like how you look.

Learning to like how you look can be a challenging process, especially if you have struggled with negative body image in the past. However, there are a few strategies that may be helpful in developing a more positive and healthy relationship with your appearance:

  • Practice self-compassion: Rather than being self-critical and judgmental, try to be kind and understanding towards yourself. Recognize that everyone has flaws and imperfections, and try to focus on the things you like about your appearance.

  • Find role models: Look for people in your life or in the media who have body types similar to yours and who exude confidence and self-acceptance. Seeing others who are comfortable and happy with their bodies can be inspiring and help you feel more positive about your own appearance.

  • Engage in self-care: Taking care of your body can help you feel more confident and positive about it. This could include exercise, healthy eating, and other activities that promote physical and mental well-being.

  • Reflect on your values: What is important to you in life? Is it appearance, or are there other values that are more important, such as kindness, compassion, or intelligence? Focusing on your values can help you shift your focus away from appearance and towards things that truly matter.

  • Surround yourself with supportive people: Seek out relationships with people who support and respect you, regardless of your appearance. Surrounding yourself with positive influences can help to boost your self-esteem and self-respect.

  • Seek support: If you are struggling with negative body image, it can be helpful to seek support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. Talking about your feelings and getting support can help you develop a more positive relationship with your appearance.

  • Set boundaries: It's important to set boundaries with people who are critical or judgmental about your appearance. It's okay to stand up for yourself and say that their comments are not okay.

Remember, it's okay to take time to develop a positive body image, and it's a journey that may involve ups and downs. By focusing on self-compassion, finding role models, engaging in self-care, reflecting on your values, and seeking support, you can work towards a more positive and healthy relationship with your appearance.

Social Media....The Big One

Social media has become an increasingly prevalent part of our daily lives, and it's no secret that it can have a significant impact on body image. With the constant stream of images and messages about appearance and beauty, it's easy for people to feel pressure to conform to certain standards. In this section, we'll touch on the effects of social media on body image, and provide some tips for maintaining a healthy relationship with it.

One of the biggest ways that social media can affect body image is through the promotion of unhealthy or unrealistic beauty standards. Many social media platforms are filled with images of perfect bodies, photoshopped and filtered to perfection. Seeing these images on a regular basis can lead people to feel inadequate or self-conscious about their own bodies, especially if they don't match up to the idealized standards being presented.

In addition to promoting unhealthy standards, social media can also foster a culture of comparison. It's easy to fall into the trap of comparing our own bodies to the ones we see on social media, and this can lead to feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem. It's important to remember that the images we see on social media are often heavily edited and do not reflect reality, and it's not healthy or productive to compare ourselves to them.

So, what can be done to maintain a healthy relationship with social media and body image?

One important tip is to be mindful of the content you consume. Follow accounts that promote body positivity and diversity, and unfollow or mute those that promote unhealthy or unrealistic standards. It's also important to remember that social media is just one aspect of life, and there are many other things that bring joy and fulfilment. Try to focus on those things, rather than constantly scrolling through your feed.

It's important to talk about these issues with friends and loved ones. Share your thoughts and feelings, and seek support from those who are understanding and supportive. By building a strong support system, you can help to combat the negative effects of social media on body image.

In conclusion, social media can have a significant impact on body image, promoting unhealthy and unrealistic standards and fostering a culture of comparison. To maintain a healthy relationship with social media, it's important to be mindful of the content you consume, focus on other aspects of life that bring joy and fulfilment, and build a strong support system. By taking these steps, you can help to protect your own body image and self-esteem.

Dangers of dieting and body image.

Dieting, or the practice of trying to lose weight by restricting food intake, can have negative effects on both physical and mental health, and can also impact body image. Some of the dangers of dieting include:

  • Nutrient deficiencies: Restricting food intake can lead to nutrient deficiencies, especially if certain food groups or nutrients are cut out entirely. This can lead to a range of health problems, including weakened immune system, fatigue, and impaired brain function.

  • Disordered eating: Dieting can lead to disordered eating patterns, including binge eating, purging, and obsessive thoughts about food. These behaviours can be harmful to both physical and mental health, and can also lead to more serious eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

  • Yo-yo dieting: Many people who diet end up losing weight temporarily, but then gain it back once they stop dieting. This cycle of losing and gaining weight, known as yo-yo dieting, can have negative effects on both physical and mental health.

Negative body image: Dieting can also have negative impacts on body image. It can lead to a preoccupation with weight and appearance, and can cause people to feel self-conscious or dissatisfied with their bodies. This can lead to a negative self-image and low self-esteem.

In conclusion, dieting can have negative effects on both physical and mental health, and can also impact body image. Instead of focusing on restrictive dieting, it's important to prioritize healthy eating habits and self-care practices that promote overall well-being.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

BDD is a mental health condition characterized by an obsessive preoccupation with a perceived flaw in one's physical appearance. People with BDD may spend a lot of time looking in mirrors, comparing their appearance to others, or seeking reassurance from others about their appearance. They may also try to camouflage the perceived flaw, for example by wearing heavy makeup or hats, or by avoiding social situations where their appearance might be noticed.

BDD can be distressing and disruptive to daily life, and it can lead to social isolation, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. If you think you might have BDD, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you understand the condition and develop strategies to manage it.

Using self hypnosis for a positive body image.

Self-hypnosis is a technique that involves using visualization and relaxation techniques to enter a state of deep relaxation, often with the goal of making changes to thoughts, behaviours, or habits.

Some people may use self-hypnosis as a tool to improve body image, but it's important to note that self-hypnosis is not a substitute for professional medical or mental health treatment. If you are struggling with body image issues, it's important to speak with a qualified healthcare provider for proper evaluation and treatment.

That being said, self-hypnosis can be a helpful tool for relaxation and visualization, and it may be used as part of a broader approach to improving body image. Take a look at our downloadable session for Positive Body Image HERE

In Conclusion

I am Sharon Shinwell a UK qualified clinical hypnotherapist. I recently retired from my face-to-face hypnotherapy practice. However, I am able to continue to help individuals through my range of downloadable self-hypnosis sessions that address a variety of issues. With my extensive knowledge and experience in the field of hypnotherapy, I am able to provide effective solutions for those seeking to improve their mental and emotional well-being.

You can see my full range of downloadable sessions HERE

"This article represents the personal views and opinions of the author and should not be taken as representative of the official policy or position of any organization, professional, expert, or individual."