Although body image issues can develop in early childhood or during the teenage years, many women develop a negative body image later in life after the birth of a baby, sudden weight gain or loss, or hormonal changes. Other women begin to see themselves as ugly or wanting due to living in an abusive or toxic relationship.
But you can beat body image issues. It takes time to replace negative thoughts and false beliefs with the truth, but you can do it with a few daily strategies.
How to beat body image issues.
If you grew up in a household or were bullied by people who said horrible things about your appearance, then you may view these as factual statements. However, God created you in His likeness and image with a woman’s femininity. Instead of pointing out the “flaws” that we see in the mirror, let’s change how we think about our bodies.
Don’t compare yourself.
The media bombards us with messages about what society considers the ideal body and appearance. Yet, if you look back over the years, society’s idea of the perfect body has changed. The ideal body also varies in different countries. God created each woman to be unique and beautiful in her own way. What makes you different from other women makes you unique and special to God.
Be wary about the messages regarding appearance and the ideal body you pick up from media, social platforms, peers, friends, and family. Don’t compare yourself to the filtered images you see in the movies or on your socials. Comparison will only rob you of your joy and strengthen negative perceptions you harbor about your body.
List your assets.
Do you focus on your flaws more than your assets? When was the last time you thanked God and appreciated the features and body parts you are most proud of? Acknowledging your blessings can change your mindset. It can lift your spirits and make you realize that you have more to be grateful for than the perceived flaws.
To start, list your assets and why they are important to you. For example, are your legs strong? Maybe you can acknowledge in a journal or out loud to God that you are blessed to have legs that carry you throughout the day and keep you on the go. Then, when you dress, consider showing off the parts of your body that make you proud.
Also, list nonphysical traits, such as creativity or persistence. These traits may not be visible outwardly, but they are just as crucial for their intrinsic qualities.
Write three things you are grateful for.
Once you start focusing on your assets and improving your body image, you may notice other blessings. You might want to purchase a gratitude journal and write in it each morning or before bed. Listing three blessings forces your mind to search for the good instead of focusing on the perceived negative. For example, maybe your three blessings for tonight are your family, job, and home. Try to think of three different things each day.
Flip your thinking.
The reason you should keep a journal is so that you can look back over your blessings when you are feeling anxious or depressed. You can also use your notebook to record negative thoughts about body image and reframe those thoughts into positive affirmations.
For example, if the sabotaging thought is, “I can’t believe how awful my thighs look in my clothes. I should just stay home instead of embarrassing myself and others,” write an answer to the thought in your notebook.
Maybe you can counter that thought with the statement, “I’m working hard to tone my legs, and I like this outfit. I feel pretty and deserve to go out with my friends and family.” Reread your new affirmations as often as you need to fight negative body image.
A quick way to improve body image is to give your brain a quick hit of endorphins by exercising several days a week. When you work out, your brain rewards you by releasing endorphins that make you happy and lift your mood. The more you exercise, the more body confident you will become.
Start slowly if you haven’t worked out in a long time, and get your physician’s clearance before engaging in a program. Next, exercise in short bursts as you build your endurance.
For example, try walking for fifteen minutes daily for one week, then increase the time or distance every week. If you lift weights, start with lighter weights of five and eight pounds and increase the weight as you grow stronger.
Finally, set personal goals with your exercise and vary the workouts; you will never get bored.
Take care of your body.
Improving your body image starts from within by nurturing it with healthy food and allowing it time to heal with restorative sleep. A diet rich in healthy fats, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates will fuel an active body. When you eat enough nutritious foods and avoid processed and fast foods, sugary treats, and drinks, you will notice healthier hair and skin and less inflammation.
You will probably need to make lifestyle changes to care for your body properly, including setting a bedtime to ensure you get seven to nine hours of sleep most nights. If you are a mother or care for aging parents, you may have issues getting a full night’s sleep.
Certain medications and mental disorders can also disturb sleep patterns. Try creating a nightly routine to cue your brain that it is time to unwind. Honor your body, and it will serve you and God well for years to come.
Stress only adds to dissatisfaction and frustration over body image. Of course, some stress is unavoidable, and your physical reaction is a natural process to protect you from predators. But our bodies respond the same way whether the threat is a burglar or an overdue mortgage bill.
Practice reducing stress and calming your thoughts with relaxing activities, such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and prayer. Your goal is to clear your mind enough to think clearly and lower cortisol levels in the body which can lead to anxiety, chronic inflammation, and physical illnesses.
The soul inhabits the body.
We often forget in the busyness of life that our souls are everlasting and inhabit our bodies temporarily. God created these bodies for us to use to serve Him. It is important to remember that God made us in His image and likeness, unlike animals. Therefore, we should live confidently, knowing that God loved us so much that He sacrificed His Son for us.
When we remember this fact, we should be able to care for our bodies as God intended while feeding our souls His word and fulfilling our purpose on Earth.
We often leave prayer out of the equation when we struggle with body image issues. However, God knows our hearts and minds. He wants to see us flourish in all areas of our lives. When you pray, ask God to give you wisdom on serving Him while caring for your body. He can help you make the right decisions regarding your body and appearance. But remember: God loves you right now just the way you are, and He always will.
Get the support you need.
Body image issues could be deeply ingrained in your psyche, especially if you spent years or decades with these negative thoughts. Changing your thinking can be a slow process; you may need to review your strategies and implement new ones until you see yourself as beautiful and confident.
If you struggle with body image issues, contact our office today to schedule a session with a counselor who can offer you an assessment and techniques for changing your mindset. Support is only a click away.
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