SALT LAKE CITY — Heading into summer can cause a lot of anxiety around body image. If you're anticipating more trips to the pool, lake or beach, it may put more focus on your appearance and make you feel more self-conscious about your body.
Summertime usually means wearing less clothing than you’ve been wearing all winter. If you don’t mentally prepare yourself well, it can be an abrupt change that challenges your resilience to negative body image thoughts.
Heading into summer with a positive body image starts with knowing what a positive body image actually is. There's a common misconception that having a positive body image means always liking or even loving how you look. But a positive body image actually happens as a result of relating to your body in positive ways, regardless of how you look. A positive body image isn’t so much something you feel, rather it's something you do.
Relating to your body in positive ways can vary for different people. Here are a a few examples of what that looks like:
- You honor and respect your hunger and fullness cues by focusing on how you feel rather than how you look.
- You intentionally find positive things your body does for you or allows you to do, regardless of appearance.
- You wear clothes that fit and that help you feel comfortable in your body.
- When negative thoughts about your body feel overwhelming, and it feels like the most important thing is to "fix" your body, you intentionally put those negative thoughts into perspective by remembering all the things that are more valuable and meaningful to you than how you look.
- You connect with your body through physical activity that you enjoy and makes you feel good rather than "punishing" your body through exercise.
- You speak kindly to and about your body.
As you head into summer, keep in mind that you have much more power over your body image than you might expect. If negative thoughts do start creeping up, here are 10 body image tips I use with my clients that might help to take back your power:
- Respecting and taking care of your body will help you feel more comfortable in it.
- You don’t have to like your body in order to be kind to it.
- While there are many outside influences, your body image is deeply personal.
- Separating worth and value from appearance supports positive body image.
- Practice acceptance by having an accurate and neutral perception of your body shape and size.
- Comparison is lethal to body image.
- Respect for your body is a more effective goal than always feeling love for your body.
- Positive body image means respecting other people’s bodies too, and the natural diversity in different bodies' shapes and sizes.
- Positive body image is supported by thinking about your body less overall, not feeling preoccupied or obsessed with your appearance.
- Your appearance is the least interesting thing about you. You are more than a body.
I hope you can stay present and positive as you make memories this summer.
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