So, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week – and we couldn’t feel more proud! With this year’s theme being Body Image, we’ll be discussing the stigma’s behind body image and how to be body confident in 2019.
What Is Body Image?
Body Image – what is it? Well, body image are the emotions you feel when looking at yourself in the mirror. With that being said, it’s completely normal not being 100% body confident and it’s completely common to have insecurities.
What Is Negative or Distorted Body Image?
Having a negative and unrealistic view of how you perceive yourself is known as negative/distorted body image. Negative body image can occur to both males and females which can lead to a range of disorders such as;
- Eating disorders
- Mood disorders
- Personality disorders
It’s important to be aware how mental health issues can aggravate negative body image. If you struggle with negative body image, you can create a vicious cycle that is difficult to break out from. Which is why with Mental Health Awareness Week and a greater concern of mental health – there are a range of platforms for anyone and everyone to help tackle mental health issues.
Causes of Negative Body Image
Causes of negative body image is usually impacted by one or more significant events, which could be from friends, family, outsiders and/or social media. If you feel you may have negative body image, some questions you should ask yourself are;
- Is my perception of beauty distorted from years of media exposure that is unrealistic to achieve?
- Am I comparing myself to others around me?
- Do I find myself regularly criticising my appearance?
If you have negative body image and find yourself answering yes to some of these questions, we’re here to help. We’ve created 5 stepping stones to help kick start your body positivity journey to help improve your mental health and dealing with the challenges you face.
1. Thinking Positive
Thinking positive is a huge step with improving mental health. Positive thinking is the idea you can change your life by thinking more positively. Although this can sound silly to some, consider The Placebo Effect to grasp a better understanding of how positive thinking can work.
2. Banish Negative Thoughts
Positive thinking is extremely beneficial. In fact it’s one of the very first steps for good mental health. With that being said it’s equally important to banish negative thoughts. Although it’s easier said than done, making simple changes can help improve your mental well-being…
Be the best of your ability – not perfection
It’s important to understand human beings are not perfect. Striving for perfection will stress you as it’s simply unrealistic. Aim to be the best of your ability and understand you’re human and sometimes we have drawbacks.
Making comparisons to other’s is easily done, but very damaging to your mental health. It’s important to understand everyone is on their own journey – including yourself. Comparing yourself to others can make you feel demotivated – especially if you’re not at the stage you would like to be. So try to avoid comparison to others and remember you’re on your own journey at your own pace.
It’s easy to judge other’s, especially if you don’t feel confident in yourself. Judging others can be an outlet for some to help make themselves feel better. Avoiding judgement can help make you a kinder person and nicer to be around.
3. Keeping a Diary
A great way to deal with any overwhelming emotion is to find a healthy way to express yourself. Keeping a diary is a great way to manage your health. Expressing how you feel allows you to offload and help;
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Coping with depression
Further studies have found keeping a diary to;
- Boost your mood
- Enhance your sense of well-being
- Reduce symptoms of depression before an important event
- Reducing intrusion & avoidance symptoms post-trauma
- Improve your working memory
4. Emotional Awareness & Self-Control – Emotional Stability
Body image and self-esteem start in the mind, not the mirror. It’s the mental picture you have of your body and how you feel when you look in the mirror.
There may be times when your confidence is knocked. Understanding the reasons as to why you feel these emotions will help master those feelings and avoid them affecting your body image on a permanent basis.
5. Getting Help
It’s important to never feel ashamed if you have mental health issues. There are a range of platforms designed to help anyone with poor mental health. Remember a problem shared is a problem halved.
If you’re concerned your developing a mental health problem seek the advice and support of your GP as a matter of priority. If you are in distress and need immediate help and are unable to see a GP, you should visit your local A&E. For further information please visit the Mental Health Foundation website.