A group of smiling friends standing arm-in-arm on the grass outside
Published On: Mar 25, 2020|Categories: Nutrition & Health|

How you perceive yourself has a massive impact on numerous areas of life: how you interact with others, the way you present yourself, the kind of jobs you apply for and even your physical posture.

While there’s a stereotype that people who consider themselves less attractive will struggle with body image, anyone at any age can have insecurities about their appearance. If you find yourself criticizing your appearance, or you’re preoccupied with how others perceive you, here are some tips and tricks for how to improve your body image.

1. Identify and challenge negative thoughts

The first step in overcoming a negative body image is to develop an awareness of the negative thoughts you have about your appearance. Our thoughts are often automatic and they pass through our minds without being challenged. Pay attention to the self-talk that you use whenever you look at yourself in the mirror, make a mistake or have an awkward interaction.

The things that we tell ourselves often take root and become repetitive mantras. After identifying these thoughts, it’s important to challenge them. Are the statements you’re making based on fact or opinion? Is this view realistic? What evidence is there to suggest that this is true?

When you start to step back and objectively evaluate these thoughts, you’ll be able to challenge them and make changes. This technique is very similar to the methods used in cognitive behavioral therapy, which may spill over from your treatment sessions.

2. Recognize the underlying motivation for criticism

If you’re constantly criticizing your appearance, consider what your underlying motivations could be. Do you really feel that you should be thinner, or are you trying to control your appearance as a way to regain a sense of control in other areas of your life? Do you really dislike your hair, or are you echoing criticism that you’ve heard from someone else?

It’s important to sort through your specific thoughts and recognize what’s really driving them. Find ways to heal or satisfy your other emotional needs.

3. Appreciate your body for what it can do

One of the best tips for how to improve body image is to start seeing your body in a positive light, instead of a negative or neutral one. Every person’s body has incredible capabilities, even if you feel limited by it at times. It’s important to focus on what your body can do. Cultivate gratitude for your body’s abilities.

When you start to appreciate your body for what it does, you’ll be more apt to nourish it in order to keep it functioning optimally.

4. Practice focusing on the positive aspects

It takes effort and intention to focus on positive aspects of your body. Take concrete steps to put this spirit of thankfulness into action. A few ways to do this include:

  • Writing down things you like about your body in a journal;
  • Repeating affirmations every day;
  • Choosing foods and activities that nourish and strengthen your body;
  • Meditating on why you’re grateful for your body.

These exercises take a minimal amount of time and can be part of a wholesome routine to build a positive self-image.

5. Avoid comparisons

Body dissatisfaction often comes from comparisons to peers or celebrities. Try to be aware of the times you start to compare yourself to other people. Remind yourself that each person’s body is unique and that there is no “ideal” look.

Adjust your social media platforms to help you avoid holding yourself up against others. Fill your feed with unique and healthy body shapes and abilities and limit your time scrolling if you’re prone to compare.

6. Challenge media portrayals

Keep in mind that images in the media are not always truthful and realistic. Photo editing techniques are used to enhance appearances. Challenge the unrealistic standards you see on the internet and in magazines, movies and TV shows.

Not only celebrities use editing software, though. Apps and websites can be used by just about anyone to change their appearance, and assuming everyone looks flawless naturally can damage your confidence. Limit your exposure to these images by limiting internet usage and screen time, or delete the apps that leave you feeling the worst.

7. Identify non-physical traits that you admire

Take the focus off of the physical and think about other traits you admire in yourself, such as your intelligence, kindness or creativity. Remind yourself that you are more than your body— you are also your mind and spirit. Your character and personality define who you are as a person, not how you look on the outside.

8. Surround yourself with body-positive people

Evaluate your current friendships. Do your friends talk positively about their own bodies, or are they often critical? It’s important to realize that your friends’ comments can impact your own body image. Try to surround yourself with friends who speak positively about their bodies and appearance because that will rub off on you.

The internet can be a good source for this, since there are many forums and support communities. However, it’s important to exercise caution. There are also communities that promote eating disorder behaviors and negative body image.

How do I improve my body image?

Worried you have an eating disorder? Take our self-test.

Eating Disorder Quiz

Body image issues are very common in our society, but how do you know if a poor body image is worth bringing up to your doctor or therapist? If negative thoughts about your appearance are causing you severe distress or impairing your ability to function, talk to a healthcare professional for guidance.

If you’ve struggled with disordered eating or want a second opinion on your behaviors, Seeds of Hope can help. Call (610) 644-6464 today to start making strides toward a positive self-image.

An African American woman sits on her bed and meditates to manage anxietyManaging Coronavirus Triggers in Eating Disorder Recovery
Can Eating Disorders Be Treated Through Teletherapy?