Everywhere we go, we’re surrounded by talk about appearances. Turn on the television, flip through a magazine, or take a glance at your social media feed, and you’ll get plenty of unsolicited advice about what you should look like. Be thinner. Be fitter. Be curvier. The meaning is clear: Be anything other than what you are right now.
There are a thousand voices out there telling us that the way our bodies look is wrong. In a perfect world, we’d ignore those voices. In the real world, we often let them determine how we feel about ourselves. Today, we’re going to talk about body image, how it can affect your emotional health, and how you can improve yours.
The Importance of Body Image
Body image is the way that you perceive your physical appearance and how it makes you feel. When you have a healthy body image, you have a realistic and accurate perception of your body, and you’re able to focus on your health and taking as good of care of your body as you can. You may not think of yourself as perfect, and you’ll still have some areas that you’d like to improve, but you’re able to accept yourself for who you are.
Unfortunately, many people have unhealthy body images. This means that your perception of your appearance is often unrealistic or distorted, and you’re preoccupied with the way you look to the extent that your physical and emotional health is negatively impacted. You allow negative thoughts about yourself to control the way you live your life, and you may tell yourself that you’ll only be happy when you reach your goals or have a “perfect body.”
The problem with this is simple: there’s no such thing as a perfect body. If you base your self-esteem solely on the way you look, you may never be satisfied. This can have a devastating effect on your emotional health and lead you down a dangerous path of harming your physical health to chase an unattainable ideal.
Changing Your Focus
So what can you do to improve your body image? It starts with changing the way you talk about yourself and, more importantly, the way that you think about yourself. Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say it to your best friend, don’t say it to yourself!
Rather than thinking about the things you’d like to change about your appearance, celebrate the things that you do like. Look in the mirror every morning, find at least three things you like about yourself, and focus on them. It may feel silly or even vain at first, but over time, it can help you transform your body image.
When you’re working toward a goal, never try to motivate yourself with negative thoughts about the way your body looks. That negativity will stick with you for a long time, whether you meet your goals or not.
Instead, use positivity to fuel your actions. Foster healthy habits to celebrate your body, not punish it. Eat healthy foods because they nourish your body. Exercise because it makes you feel strong and powerful. Get a good night’s sleep so you have energy throughout the day. Use your health to guide your actions rather than solely focusing on your appearance, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier body image.
Body image is a key part of your emotional health, so work hard to think positively about yourself and the way that you look. For more tips for living a happy and healthy life, subscribe to the blog and check out our Facebook page!