Body image is a subject that causes many people a lot of emotional and mental stress.
We are constantly inundated with images on all forms of media of celebrities and models airbrushed to perfection and we are plagued by unrealistic expectations of how our bodies could or should look. To exacerbate this problem, many of us are now confined to our homes due to Coronavirus, which means that our routines for maintaining a healthy body and mind have been disrupted. It also means we are more likely to indulge in unhealthy eating habits stemming from feeling down or stressed, or just out of pure boredom.
With all the hype around the Quarantine 15—the idea that many people will gain around 15 kg during the pandemic—it is understandable if you are struggling with body image issues and are preoccupied with negative thoughts about your body.
If this resonates with you, here are some helpful tips to try refocus your mind and help your body during this time.
Curate your social media
Social media is useful for helping us to feel connected to others even though we may not be able to physically be in their presence. Certain aspects of social media, however, are not helpful and are possibly even harmful to our mental well-being. Luckily, you have control over what you do or don’t see. On any of the platforms, such as Instagram or Facebook or Tiktok, unfollow things that make you feel inadequate or lead you to start unfairly comparing yourself with others. Rather, find accounts to follow that inspire, motivate and uplift you. Perhaps it’s an account of motivational quotes or positive body image stories or something completely unrelated that piques your enthusiasm. Be selective about what you take in and your mind will feel the positive effects.
Here are some accounts worth following:
Do exercise videos at home that you enjoy
There is a myriad of videos on platforms such as Youtube on almost every subject you can think of. If you enjoy yoga, you can find a yoga video. If you prefer HIIT, there are numerous videos to work out to. The important thing is to choose something you genuinely enjoy and then commit to doing it a certain number of times a week. If it makes you feel good and you like what you are doing, you are more likely to stick to it. Incorporate it into your schedule.
Set a schedule
This leads to the next tip. Get a routine going with meal times, workout times, work times, relaxation times and social times. The stability a routine provides means that you are less likely to listlessly make your way to the fridge and snack unnecessarily. Having set meal times will help you to monitor your food intake, and planning around these will help you to make healthier decisions on what to eat.
“If you spend a lot of time online, finding social media accounts to follow that inspire, motivate and uplift you can be an incredible for learning body positivity.”
Learn to cook healthy meals
Most people have a bit more time on their hands right now. This may be a good time to learn a new skill and healthy cooking has the added benefit of improving your physical and mental health. Your body image can only improve if you feel good about what you are putting into it.
Meditation is a useful tool to calm the mind and practice controlling negative thoughts. Again, Youtube is a good source for learning to meditate. There are also numerous apps such as Insight Timer and Calm, where you can find guided meditations to get you started. A good idea is to start your day with a meditation to set you intentions and put your mind in a positive state.
Start practising self-love habits
We are often very quick to criticise ourselves but slow to offer any positive self-affirmation. Try to look at your good points—the things you love about yourself and the things that others love about you. Remember you are so much more than just a body and be grateful that your body can function in the ways that i does. Start talking to yourself like you would to a friend when he/she is having a bad day. As hard as it can be, learn to appreciate your flaws—they are what makes you human.. If self-love feels unachievable, focus on self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and your body.
Finally, if you are struggling to cope, there are sources that can help you. The Butterfly Foundation specialises in helping those who are struggling with an eating disorder. You can also call their national helpline on 1800 33 4673 or chat to them online. If you want to see a psychologist who specialises in Eating Disorders then it might be worthwhile to go on a Mental Health Plan by first going to your GP.