Summer is officially here and the hot weather has come along with it. It's a great time to get out on the water, enjoy a barbecue with your family, or throw on a sundress and enjoy the fresh air—unless you struggle with your body image. In that case, the thought of those activities may bring you body image anxiety instead of feelings of excitement and anticipation. If you can relate, keep reading to learn practical tips you can use to beat your body image issues this summer.
What is body image?
Body image is how you look, feel, and think about your body. Your body image can be positive or negative. Signs that you struggle with body image issues include things like:
Being preoccupied with your weight and appearance
Experiencing feelings of shame about your body
Constantly comparing your looks to others
Experiencing anxiety or depression because of feelings about your body
Trying every fad diet or trendy exercise program
During the summer months, body image issues and anxiety can increase. We spend the winter months bundled up in oversized sweaters to stay warm and cozy. But once the warm weather comes and clothing shifts, sometimes our feelings shift along with them. When we put on bathing suits, shorts, tank tops, or dresses, it's easier to start to notice what we don't like about our bodies and what features or body size we wish we had that we see in others.
The media doesn't help. Once spring rolls around, we see more messages telling us it's time to get our bodies ready for the beach. The truth is that every body is a beach body.
Tips for improving your body image this summer
You don't need to look a certain way to enjoy yourself this summer. These tips can help you improve your body image this summer.
Appreciate your body
If you struggle with body image issues, you likely tend to focus on everything you don't like about your body. When you look in the mirror, your eyes go right to your least favorite feature. Instead of doing this, focus on the things you appreciate about your body. Focus on the features that you like about yourself more than you think about the things you don't like.
For example, instead of focusing on how you wish the stretch marks left over from your pregnancy were gone, appreciate all your body accomplished in that pregnancy and birth. Or, instead of focusing on how big you think your thighs are, appreciate how strong they are.
Redirect your attention to self-care
Instead of focusing on everything you don't like about your body, redirect your focus to taking care of yourself. What can you do to help you feel your best physically and mentally? Get enough rest each day. Eat foods that nourish your body and help you feel your best. Enjoy time outside in nature. Move your body, even if it's going for a walk. Do activities that you enjoy. Focusing on how you feel instead of how you look can help you adopt a more positive mindset.
Tune out messages that cause you to struggle
You don't have to watch the 30-second video as you scroll Instagram trying to tell you how this particular program can make you lose weight. You don't have to scroll through social media at all if it's not enjoyable for you!
Spend some time paying attention to the messages you take daily that relate to how you feel about yourself and your body. Then, limit your time with the things that negatively impact you. For example, if you buy a new magazine every time you hit the grocery store checkout line and then compare yourself to the model on the cover and feel bad, don't look at or buy the magazine.
Choose to consume messages and interact with things that leave you feeling good. If scrolling social media leads to you comparing yourself to others and feeling bad, stop spending time on social media. Instead, prioritize yourself and feeling your best.
Work with a therapist
If you've been struggling with body image issues and anxiety, working with a therapist can help. We have a team of mental health professionals who can help you develop healthy confidence and enjoy your life more.
Stop making comparisons
You've likely heard that you shouldn't compare yourself to others, which is true. But it can also leave you feeling bad if you continually compare your present self to your past self. If you have experienced changes to your body over the years, for any reason, you may find yourself comparing how you look now to how you used to look. You don't need to compare how you look at 40 years old to how you looked when you were 18 years old.
Stop focusing on how other people look
If you struggle with your body image, you may find that you constantly look to see what others look like. For example, when you walk into a room, you may look to see where your weight falls compared with others. Or, when you hit the beach, you may scan the area to see how you stack up to the others there. Doing this is unhelpful behavior.
Be intentional about shifting how you focus and look at other people. For example, instead of looking at their bodies, focus on looking at their faces. Shift your attention from how everyone looks to other areas. Doing so can also help you avoid judging someone's personality based on their appearance.
Dress in what makes you feel your best
We've all had those days when we wear something that we regret. We end up spending the entire day pulling at our shirt or tugging at a certain area because we're not comfortable. Avoid doing this. Choose to wear clothes that you feel most confident in. Focus on what colors and patterns make you feel your best.
Take steps to enjoy your summer
If you struggle with your body image, you may find that it steals your enjoyment in life. You may avoid going to barbecues, family get-togethers or the beach because you don't feel comfortable and confident. You deserve to enjoy your summer and time with friends and family just as you are. Your worth and value never come from your physical appearance.
If you're ready to take steps to feel comfortable and confident in your skin, contact us today to be matched with a therapist. You deserve it!