For many people, the start of summer is like a breath of fresh air. School is out, the mood is more relaxed, and longer days of warmth and sunshine are inviting. However, summer can be a time of anxiety and insecurity for others, particularly women and men who are dissatisfied with their bodies. Negative body image can have a big impact on day-to-day life, so we’re here to help with some tips on coping with it.

Sources of negative body image

Negative body image doesn’t just affect adults. Studies have shown that kids aged 9 to 14 struggle with negative body image. Over half of girls and boys in one study were unhappy with their body. Many of the girls wanted to be thinner, while the boys either wanted to be bigger or thinner.  

There are various reasons why people might feel insecure about their appearance. Movies, TV shows, celebrity photos, magazine advertisements: these visual sources present seemingly flawless images of men and women all the time. Many media outlets like magazines or talk shows often scrutinize people’s appearances, and focus on things like weight gain or physical flaws. Social media can be another source of negativity too. Image-heavy platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have ranked as some of the worst social media communities for mental health and wellbeing. 

Summertime can make body image struggles even worse. The summer heat can make it more difficult to cover up or hide body shape. Sweating can also make people more self-conscious about their appearance. There’s also pressure to get “beach body ready” to prepare for summer, which can strike a blow to someone’s confidence. So how can you deal with negative body image in a positive way?

Respect and give thanks to your body

It’s common to focus on about what’s “wrong” with your body, or what you’d like to change. However, getting stuck in that kind of mindset makes it easy to ignore what is “right” with it. Think about what your body does for you on a daily basis. You’re able to go outside and breathe that fresh summer air. Your body lets you move and experience day-to-day life. Doing an activity or exercise you love, eating healthy food (and indulging in treats), wearing outfits that boost your confidence: your body lets you do all of those things.

You may not love your body, or like it all of the time. That’s normal. However, choose to focus on what you like about it and what it does for you. Over time, you might find that these positive thoughts can counterbalance negative ones. 

Surround yourself with positivity

Being kinder to your body is a little easier when you have a good support system to lean on. Surround yourself with supportive friends or family. Look through your social media accounts and assess them honestly. Ask yourself how an account’s posts make you feel. Do they inspire, entertain, or engage you? Or, do they make you feel insecure or discouraged about yourself? If your feelings are mostly negative, it may be time to unfollow. 

Write it down

Replacing negative thoughts about your body won’t happen overnight, and that’s okay. Help yourself out by writing things down. If you can’t seem to get negative thoughts and worries out of your head, write them down in a journal. What are you really feeling when you think you “look fat” or need to lose weight? Be honest with yourself in your journal. It can help you explore your feelings. 

Go beyond a journal and write down positive body statements. Write down a meaningful phrase like “I am strong” and place it around your home. That might be on your bathroom mirror, next to your coffee maker, on your nightstand, or in your closet. You’ll get a positivity boost whenever you need it.

Talk to someone

Sometimes, talking to a professional can help you turn negative body image around. A professional therapist can help you understand yourself, your goals, and your values. With their guidance, you can also learn coping strategies for issues like low self-esteem and body image, so you can work towards change. Learn more about the services Mind Balance Counseling offers now.

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