It’s safe to say everyone on this planet has dealt with bad body image days. Days where they didn’t like their reflection, felt uncomfortable in their body, or compared themselves to another. But there’s a reason why everyone can relate to the self-criticism. Unfair beauty standards and societal messaging crawl deep into our subconscious and affect how we see ourselves. Yet there are ways to cope with bad body image days, feel better about yourself, and persevere. You’ll learn how to alter some of your beliefs and love yourself at a deeper level.
What Is ‘Body Image’?
Body image represents the combination of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and actions you have about your physical appearance and includes four aspects;
- Perceptual is how you see yourself. For example, you may perceive you’re overweight when you’re actually slender and healthy.
- Affective involves the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction you have about your appearance, including shape, skin, aging, weight, face, etc.
- Cognitive encompasses the thoughts and beliefs you have about your appearance. An example, yet a false one, is believing if you avoid carbs, your face will look younger and plumper.
- And behavioral involves all the actions you take in response to your body image, for example, excessive exercise, limited eating, etc.
4 Tips to Improve Your Body Image
Everyone is different, and what one person needs to improve their body image might be entirely different for another. But here are a few tips to help you get started to overcome those days where nothing fits well, everything feels awful, and your thoughts are going a mile per minute;
- Journal. Write about your triggers and moments you feel self-conscious to track your thoughts to challenge them and discover patterns
- Remove mirrors. Body-checking is a behavior that exacerbates our low self-worth. So, remove a few mirrors to help you reduce this habit.
- Create a sleep routine. Your sleep is critical to balancing your emotional health and improving your physical health. Use essential oils, cuddle comfy pillows, drink calming tea, or do anything to set your mood for restful zzzs.
- Fill your body with healthy nutrition but don’t forget about treating yourself. This tip is critical. While we should always eat with wellness in mind, it’s equally important to not deprive ourselves.
10 Ways to Cope with Bad Body Image Days
1. Minimize body-checking
While this tip is not the easiest to avoid, it will help you in severe distress. For example, when you body-check, you get stuck in a cycle that influences how you treat your body. You may poke at your stomach and then limit your food intake or punish yourself to “fix” what you don’t like. To break this cycle, reflect on what body-checking behaviors are your go-to. For instance, the mirrors you use, your triggers, etc. Then, accept what is happening and redirect your attention with a positive coping mechanism like calling a friend or going for a walk.
2. Welcome body neutrality
Body neutrality takes a more realistic approach to improving our body image. It also empowers you to focus on what your body does instead of how it looks, especially on the days you dislike your image. For example, being grateful your body lets you swim, hike, drive, hold your loved ones, eat your favorite foods, etc. So, the next time you’re feeling low, embrace body neutrality and see how it uplifts your spirits.
3. Befriend your self-critic
One of the best ways to cope with bad body image days is to embrace self-criticism rather than trying to ignore or avoid it. When we do the latter, our self-critic becomes louder, angrier, and crueler. So, as soon as the anxiety spiral hits, take a moment to understand the voice. For example, ask, “When does this voice show up?”, What does this voice sound like (A parent, toxic friend, etc.)?” and “What could it be trying to tell me about my trauma, childhood, etc.?” Then, accept the emotions, consider what you need to feel better, and care for yourself.
4. Wear what makes you feel good
When you don’t feel your best, wear clothes that give you a boost of confidence. For example, if you’re self-conscious about your legs, wear your favorite jeans or a long flowy skirt. In the same vein, do your hair and makeup that accents a feature you love. Dressing for success and choosing outfits that uplift your spirits will remind you to feel good in your skin.
5. Develop boundaries around body image talk
If you feel self-conscious about your body, conversations about body image will only worsen how you feel about yourself. Therefore, it is your right to set boundaries with your loved ones, unfollow fitness influencers, and discover what you’re willing to tolerate. Setting boundaries protects you and motivates you to focus on your healing. So, put your own needs first, unfollow whoever is negatively affecting you, and talk to your friends openly and honestly about your concerns.
6. Educate yourself about the realities of diet culture, filters, etc.
Unfortunately, we often believe what we see on social media. But educating yourself about the realities of filters, photoshop, and even googling your favorite models and influencers outside of Instagram and TikTok will show you that no one is perfect. Thankfully, there is an abundance of plastic surgeons, nutritionists, and makeup artists that aim to discuss and lift the veil of the beauty industry.
7. Journal what you love about yourself
It’s normal to have days where you’re not fond of your appearance. You’re human, and no one loves themselves completely 24/7. We all have insecurities. Therefore, when you’re feeling this way, take a moment to shift the narrative around your looks and write a few things you love about yourself. For example, maybe you appreciate that you’re a great friend, listener, colleague, or you love that you’re funny, kind, spontaneous, etc. Focusing on the traits and aspects you do love about yourself can soften your inner critic and reduce your anxiety.
8. Worship your body through health
Often, when we try to improve our health, nutrition, or wellness, we think we need to implement twenty habits at a time. But overloading ourselves with too much ambition will most likely result in failure. Instead, pick one thing that boosts your mood. For example, if you love yoga, aim to complete 10 minutes a day to increase your mind-body connection and help you combat those days you don’t feel your best. Worshipping your body by giving it what it needs, sleep, nutrition, movement, and meditation will make you feel more confident, happier, and resilient.
9. Nothing stays the same
Did you know when you react to your environment, you experience a chemical process that creates an unpleasant emotion for only 90 seconds? This means that emotions only have a shelf-life of intensity for about 90 seconds, and after, you can decide to pivot to feel better. So, however, you feel about your body, remind yourself that nothing stays the same. You might feel better in an hour, a day, or even 15 minutes. And your body also changes. What you don’t like today, you might end up loving a week from now.
10. Reconnect with you
What makes you feel good? Do you love hiking, kickboxing, meditation, receiving a facial, or connecting with your friends? Whatever brings joy to your life, prioritize it! Also, if a part of this joy is treating yourself and eating delicious food like a donut or pizza, go for it. Just because you’re having a day where you don’t feel great, it doesn’t mean you need to punish yourself. Your life is about far more than your looks. Therefore, have fun and enjoy every aspect.
Remember, your body image has absolutely nothing to do with your self-worth. Even if you are struggling to practice ways to cope with bad body image days, keep repeating that who you are is more than how you see your reflection. Therefore, don’t let it affect how you spend your time, what you eat, and how you treat yourself.
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