How Do You Feel About Your Body
The Mental Health Foundation is a UK charity that aims to find and address the sources of mental health problems – with prevention being at the heart of what they do. Each year in May, for one week, the Foundation campaigns around a specific theme. This year, from 13th to 19th May, they are highlighting how we feel and think about our bodies; in other words they are looking at body image.
Last year the charity discovered “that 30% of adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope”. Think about that for a moment: 30% - that’s almost 1 in 3 people. Now let’s make it more personal: for every 3 people that you know, 1 of them has body image issues to the extent that it impacts on their mental health! For those of us who are active on social media, many have literally hundreds of “friends”; for every 100 of those friends, 30 will be impacted by negative body image. That puts into perspective doesn’t it?!
Body image issues can strike anyone, at any age, at any time and affects both men and women. Children as young as 3 or 4 years old start to become aware of societal pressures to look a certain way. Recent surveys show that men and women everywhere are showing increasing levels of body dissatisfaction.
So, how do you encourage a healthier body image?
- Treat your body with respect. Be aware of how you talk about your body to others. Remind yourself of your positive qualities and attributes.
- Surround yourself with positive friends and family who recognise your uniqueness and love you just the way you are.
- Remember that everyone has times when they are challenged with body image issues. You might find that, when you talk to a friend, they wish they had a feature that you dislike in yourself.
- Be very mindful of the messages you see and hear in the media. Think about how those messages inform the way people feel about how they look. Recognise and challenge those stereotypes!
- If you are struggling with negative body image and you’re worried that it is impacting your mental health, speak with a professional counsellor. Mindfulness and CBT can teach you to “retrain” your thinking and learn to love yourself as you are.
The most important thing to remember about body image is that it has nothing to do with how you look, but how you feel about the way you look and how you accept your body.