When you look in the mirror, are you happy with what you see? If not, you may have developed a negative body image. Body image is the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body; it’s how you see your physical self. Body image is a complex thing, influenced by many factors, which develops over our lifetime. Like a plant, that image will grow and can be pruned and changed over time. Maintaining a positive body image is essential for your overall mental health. It’s hard to be completely happy and content with ourselves and our lives if we view ourselves in a negative light. There are some things you can do to improve your body image, and your overall mental health.
· Realize and accept that everyone is different and unique from one another, in how they act, how they think, and how they look. Those differences are part of what makes each and every one of us special!
· Look at yourself as a whole person. When you picture yourself or see yourself in a mirror, try not to focus on specific parts of your body. Instead, try to see yourself the way you want others to.
· Respect yourself. Negative self-thought and talk, such as body shaming yourself, can have detrimental effects, not only on your body image but on your general physical and mental health as well. Appreciate your body for all the incredible things it does every single day!
· Do something nice for someone else. Research has shown that doing a good deed for someone else can have many positive effects on the person who does them. Helping others is an excellent way to boost your self-esteem, which will help improve how you look at yourself, inside and out
· Make a list of the things you like about yourself. Include things that are not related to weight or parts of your body you don’t like. Once you have a list, look at it often, at least once a day. Doing this will help you begin to visualize yourself without negativity.
· Surround yourself with positive people. Try and reduce the amount of time you spend around people you view as overly judgmental, either towards you or others. While many of the things that help us form our body image are out of our control, such as the media, the people we choose to surround ourselves with is. Supportive, encouraging people, ones who see you as a whole person, make it easy to feel good about who you are, and your appearance.
Nobody’s perfect; it’s a fact. Everybody’s body is different, and we all have things that we would like to change about ourselves. What’s important is to take a realistic approach that allows you to be happy with who you are, no matter your shape or size. Focus on what makes you and your body unique and special!