The images we hold for ourselves can reflect confidence or despair. Body image is made up of 4 factors; how you see yourself, how you feel about yourself, what you think about yourself, and how you behave in relation to your thoughts and feelings about yourself.
Many women struggle with their body image. We are often our worst critic and magnify each and every flaw and insecurity. We all have good days and bad days and that is normal. When our self image begins to consume our every thought and change our behavior, then we need to look closer at where those thoughts and feelings are coming from, and in some cases, reach out to one of our providers for a little help. Poor self image can lead to much larger problems such as body dysmorphia, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, obsessive compulsive disorder and, in extreme cases, suicide.
Body dysmorphic disorder is an intense focus and awareness of your perceived flaws that you begin to feel shame and embarrassment. Many women with body dysmorphic disorder will go to great lengths to change their appearance but with little relief from the mental stress of remaining ‘flawed’. It will never be enough for a woman with body dysmorphia. Excessive and unwanted thoughts about your body can severely disrupt everyday functioning and the tasks at hand. If you feel your body image distortion has reached more serious levels, please consider reaching out to one of our providers. It’s not something you should try to handle alone.
As women, it’s a never ending struggle to live up to the expectations of the perfect world we see on our social media feeds. How can we safeguard ourselves and our daughters against a poor self image?
According to the National Eating Disorder Collaboration, the best place to start in developing a healthy self image is to learn to “accept, appreciate and respect your body.” This may mean that everyday, you show yourself a little gratitude for the ‘hard’ things. Learn to set boundaries, not only for the people and media you interact with, but the way you treat yourself.
Here are some other ideas to help you develop a healthier body image.
Do you stay up way too late and sacrifice sleep in lieu of less important activities? Sleep is the most important things we can do for our mental and physical health.
Do you feed yourself junk food instead of healthier, nutrient dense food? Find a better balance in your diet.
Dissatisfaction with your body is often a thought problem. Take the time to discover the source of those thoughts. Are you spending too much time comparing your perceived flaws to someone’s filtered flaws? Did a not so good friend, make a negative comment to you about a part of your body you are sensitive to? Asses where you spend your time and the people you associate with. Perhaps it’s time to create better boundaries.
Body image issues affect women of all ages. As we grow and mature, our bodies are always changing and adjusting to so many different factors, including hormones. Are you in your best possible health? Now is the time to address any underlying health factors that may be contributing to your poor self image.
Remember that we are all unique and all beautifully flawed. Embracing ourselves can be hard in a modern world but so much can be gained with a little self love.