When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you like how you look or do you immediately notice flaws?
If you do not feel positive about your appearance, you are not alone. 55 Percent of women and 42 percent of men report feeling unhappy with some part of their appearance. Dissatisfaction with appearance can negatively affect mental health. But, adopting a healthy body image can be good for both mental and physical health.
We live in a world that values appearances. It would be strange if we paid no attention to our appearance. However, we can choose how much energy to put into our appearance.
Research shows that expressing appreciation for our bodies can improve body image.
Our bodies are more than just appearance. They serve vital functions necessary for survival. When we focus more on what a body does, it can help to increase our perception of our body.
In one study, women were requested to write down ten functions of their bodies and how those functions added to their wellbeing. After this exercise, the participants had a more positive body image during the study.
An essential part of developing a positive body image is managing your consumption of media that can negatively influence your body image. This is known as 'protective filtering.'
We may feel bad when we compare ourselves with celebrities and social media personalities. But we can decide to avoid them since the people we see in the media rarely look that way in real life. We can decide against watching shows that feature women in objectified roles and focus on something else instead.
How you think about your health habits can affect your body image. For example, if you go for a run as a punishment for eating, you're not likely to enjoy it. But if you think of running as a way to increase your energy and take care of yourself, you might enjoy it.
The key is to reframe your behaviours to make healthy choices sustainable.
Some people might think too much about their appearance if they are trying to feel good about how they look. They might instead aim for 'body neutrality' where they try not to really think about their body.
A body-neutral perspective means thinking all people are beautiful because the focus is on inner beauty. One way to adopt this mentality is to start with affirmations that emphasise self-acceptance.
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