Self-acceptance is difficult, especially for anyone who didn't have a strong support system growing up, or anyone who was bullied as a child.
Studies suggest that roughly 91% of women have body image issues. It's harder still for people who aren't able-bodied, straight-sized, or cisgender. Learning to appreciate yourself is part of your self-care and mental health journey. We're here to talk about some steps you can take and ideas for self-care that may help you cope with or even overcome some of your body image issues and develop a more positive body image going forward.
Everyone is different, so some tips will be more effective than others depending on your lifestyle, history, and preferences. Mix and match and find what works for you.
Keep reading to learn more.
1. Change Your Social Media Usage
This is the #1 suggestion that many people have for improving your overall body image.
When people post on social media, they often show their best selves. They use their best angles and most flattering poses. Why wouldn't they?
While you know that they're putting their best feet forward, seeing these people can be frustrating, or even triggering. It's best to unfollow or mute them for the time being until you're feeling better.
Side tip: unfollow celebrities and models if they hurt your self-image.
Social media is great for helping us connect with old friends, meet new friends, and network with people within our various fields. You don't have to stop using social media, but you should try to change your habits.
2. Keep a Body Positivity Journal
If you're the type to write out your feelings, keeping a body positivity journal is a great way to make yourself feel better. It doesn't work right away. You need to stick with it, and at first, it's going to feel unnatural and even silly.
There are several ways to go about this. It's a good idea to use these journaling ideas in tandem, but one may work better than the other for you.
The first is to use positive affirmations. These are statements that you write that you want to believe, even if you're not there yet. You want to train your brain to accept these statements. For example:
- My body is lovable
- My body is worthy
- I accept and appreciate myself and my body
You can also write specific things that you appreciate about your body. This is a more honest approach. Examples include:
- My wrinkles are a welcomed symbol of my life experiences
- My legs are strong and take me where I need to go
Not every statement will work for every person. Find what works for you.
Finally, feel free to write about your insecurities. It may help you to get them down on paper and release them from your mind.
3. Invest In a Self-Care Workbook
If you need more structure than a blank journal can provide, consider picking up a self-care workbook to guide you.
A good workbook can teach you how to love yourself, no matter where you're starting from. You can read and respond to writing prompts and walk yourself through the self-care journey while you're going through the other steps.
4. Communicate With Friends
Do your friends make you feel good about yourself?
Sometimes it's hard to spend time with friends when you're struggling with your body image. If you have severe body image issues, you may be reluctant to leave the house.
Remember that your friends don't care about what your body looks like. You're your own worst critic, and most people are far more concerned with themselves than they are about your body.
If you have friends that you can confide in, consider discussing your body image issues with them. It's not appropriate to treat your friends like therapists, but getting insight and sharing mutual support can make you feel like you're less alone.
Body image issues are widespread, but they're also isolating. Keeping a support group close can help.
5. Exercise for Strength and Health
Too many people work out to get thinner. They overwork themselves on cardio machines and spend countless hours in the gym.
While cardio is important, when you do it for the sole purpose of weight loss, you can get obsessive. When this is paired with a diet that's too low in calories, you can experience health problems. Exercise addiction is a real risk.
You need to rewire your brain to focus on health and strength instead of what your body looks like or what the number on the scale says.
Your body is capable of great things. Regardless of your starting point, even doing gentle exercise can help your physical and mental health.
While many people find that they improve their mental health when they start lifting heavy weights, others enjoy gentler exercises like yoga, pilates, or swimming.
When you exercise for strength and overall health instead of weight loss, you still reap all of the physical benefits, but you're focusing on what your body can do for you instead of what it looks like.
6. Work on Self-Care Techniques
Take some time to treat yourself well. Part of loving your body is loving your entire self.
It's a good idea to put together a self-care kit if you've never practiced self-care in the past. This gives you something to turn to whenever you need a boost.
You can put a variety of things in your self-care kit depending on what you enjoy and what you're struggling with. You can include your journal, a self-care zine to help you learn positivity, a mental health workbook, and some things that make you feel happier.
If you have a favorite snack that can be stored in a kit, like a candy, include it. You can include a favorite book, a game, or materials for an at-home spa day.
When you're feeling low, grab your self-care kit.
You Can Manage and Overcome Your Body Image Issues
Body image issues are widespread due to the overabundance of unrealistic images and expectations put forth on the media, but you can work on self-love to overcome your poor perception of your body.
You deserve to love yourself regardless of what stage you're in. You only have one body, you have to love the one you've got.
If you're looking for some guidance on your body acceptance journey, we have some resources that could help you.
We have zines and workbooks tailored to your needs. We have zines for people of all genders and body types so you can find the right one for you. Visit our shop or check out some of the free resources in our blog to start your journey.