Positive Body Image
Positive Body Image & Your Health
A healthy body doesn’t have an ideal look.
Rather, it encompasses a positive attitude.
You may have the most enviable body on the planet, but if you’re not at peace with it then it begs the question, “Are you healthy?”
Whether or not you realize it, having a negative body image can affect a person’s health. The World Health Organization defines health as, “complete physical, mental and social well-being.”
So to be truly healthy, you need to make sure your body image is in check.
What Exactly Is Body Image?
The NEDC breaks down body image into four components:
- Perceptual Body Image – How you see your body
- Affective Body Image – How you feel about your body
- Cognitive Body Image – What you think about your body
- Behavioral Body Image – How you behave as a result of your body image
Positive Body Image
Your body image all comes down to how you perceive yourself. A positive body image requires self-esteem, a positive attitude, and emotional stability.
- Self-esteem is the product of how you feel about and value yourself as an entire being. Do you know of your immense value?
- A positive attitude is not overt optimism. Rather it is taking into account and accepting your limitations as well as your strengths. No one is perfect and that’s okay! There is power in owning your weaknesses.
Emotional stability relates to being able to rely on our own feelings and thoughts despite the negativity and criticism of others. As Taylor Swift taught us, “haters gonna hate.” Your ability to shake it off is emotional stability.
Improving Your Body Image
New research reveals that practicing self-compassion–having compassion for yourself just as you would for anyone else–can lead to body acceptance and a healthy body image amid negative social pressures to look a certain way.
- Look at yourself as a whole person: When you see yourself in a mirror or in pictures, do you pick apart specific parts of your body? If you do, work to stop those thoughts before you get too far down the rabbit hole. You are a whole body, an entire being, see yourself that way.
- Mindfully write down your feelings: Express your pain in relation to your body image then respond to yourself with care and kindness, recognizing that imperfections are part of the human experience. You’d be amazed by the power of writing down your feelings and then taking the time to respond in kind.
We’re all busy, but that’s never an excuse to not slow down and appreciate.
Do you take the time to notice the sights and smells around you? Are you aware of your body’s sensations?
Research suggests that regularly practicing mindfulness can increase feelings of peace and contentment and promote positive body image.
- Breathe with purpose, particularly when dealing with strong emotions.
- Pay close attention to your senses at any given moment. How often do sights, sounds, and smells slip through your conscious awareness? Your body is on-the-ready to absorb and experience life all around you.
- Know that your thoughts and feelings don’t define you. They come and go. Let those negative impressions wash over you instead of letting them penetrate into you and spiral you down.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.” -Melody Beattie
Gratitude turns your body into enough. More and more research is showing us that practicing gratitude can improve body acceptance.
- Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourself. It can be as simple as your beating heart and your eyes allowing you to see. Keep it close by. Revisit it. Add to it.
- Write a letter to a part of your body that you struggle with. Be open and honest. “Thighs, I don’t care for your cellulite.” Then, turn around and tell this part of your body how grateful you are for what it does. “But, thank you for helping me stand tall every day.”
Get Out in Nature
Studies show that being out in nature or even appreciating nature through photographs can improve positive body image. So, let’s reap the free benefits of the natural world.
- Plant a garden. Bask in the warmth of the sun and appreciate the feeling of your hands in the soil.
- Spend a weekend unplugged. Immerse yourself in nature and go on a camping trip–without your phone! Take a break from the pressures of life and social media.
- Hit the trails. Take a hike and get your daily physical activity on.
The bottom line is this: a healthy body image is an essential part of a healthy life. Your exquisitely designed body was created for you.
“Your body is not your masterpiece — your life is.”-Glennon Doyle Melton