With the impending holidays and upcoming New Year, there seems to be the inevitable added emphasis on what you’re eating, how you look, and–most importantly–how you feel about it all. For many, this time of year becomes a stressful loop of guilt and anxiety, during what should otherwise be a joy-filled season focused on family, friends, and fresh intentions.
At the heart of the issue is your body image, which is your own mental picture of what your body looks like, both to yourself and how you think you’re perceived by others.
For many of us, what we see–or think we see–in the mirror can strongly influence how we feel, both in that particular moment and overall. Developing a positive body image can set you on the road to a happy, healthy, joyous self-conception as you take on 2015.
How healthy is your body image?
Many of us look for outward signs of approval and compare ourselves to those around us, both people we know and those in the media. While it can be useful to set a goal weight or target pants size, becoming consumed by how you stack up can be a reflection of poor body image.
You might have a poor body image if you do the following: • Spend hours in front of the mirror or on the scale obsessing about your figure
- Often negatively compare yourself to the physical appearance of friends, family, and celebrities
- Act deeply critical of your own or other people’s bodies • Consistently feel ashamed and self-conscious about the way you look
- Blame your body for holding you back from happiness
How to overcome a poor body image
If any of the above sounds like you, don’t despair! Many people lack a healthy body image, but with a deliberate intention to rework mental patterns, you can soon be on track to make change from a more positive vantage point. Here’s how:
- Actively focus on the positive. Too often we obsess about the negative minutiae and we overlook the overwhelming evidence of our own beauty. As you begin to think a self- critical thought, stop that track of thinking and immediately replace it with a positive. Use specific thoughts about times you’ve felt beautiful, powerful, confident and attractive.
- Take action. Becoming proactive about your health and fitness can be a great mind- occupier and help you focus on what’s changing for the better, not the things you don’t like. Undertaking a new fitness regimen and sticking to it can give you the physical proof that you’re taking care of your body and have made a commitment to love yourself, which can counteract negative thinking.
- Use logic as your guide when comparing yourself to celebrities. Remember that what you see on screen or in magazines is the result of teams of people and loads of technical equipment–before and after the photo-shoot– specifically employed to minimize and digitally erase flaws. If it helps, look closely at Photoshopped “before-and-after” pictures of celebrities and realize that they, too, have imperfections, just like everyone else.
- Eliminate (or at least actively avoid) the naysayers. If you’re currently trying to lose weight, or were once an overweight child or adult, there might be people in your life who aren’t totally comfortable with your commitment to change. Though you might not receive the support you’re seeking from certain friends and family, you have no obligation to let them disparage your body or your goals. If there is someone around you who contradicts your efforts or frequently offers negative comments about your appearance (either overtly or via backhanded compliments), simply ask them to stop. Your commitment to yourself doesn’t include making a commitment to people who impede your progress. Developing a healthy body image may take some time. However, replacing old thought patters with newer, healthier patterns, and developing an action-oriented approach to change will soon have you on track to see the truth: how perfect you are, right where you are, right now.