When it comes to body image and self-acceptance most of us have parts of our bodies that we don't like, or days when we lack a little confidence. Although such feelings now and then are completely normal, being too hard on ourselves long-term can lead to other more serious issues such as depression and eating disorders. So how can we improve our attitudes about our bodies and learn to love ourselves the way we are?
Dr. Elizabeth McIngvale from Baylor College of Medicine, USA, gives her tips on how to achieve a healthy attitude to our bodies and positive self-image.
Be wary of social media
Social media can be a contributing factor to how we see our bodies says Dr. McIngvale, but it is important to try to avoid comparing ourselves, especially to unrealistic images.
"Many times we compare ourselves to images that are airbrushed and filtered, which is not where we should be placing our importance or our significance," she says, "Often when people go on trips, for example to the beach, one might get caught up looking at images on social media and think that is what they are supposed to look like in a swimsuit, and they forget the real importance of the trip, which is to spend time with the people they care about."
Workout for health
Dr McIngvale recommends doing activities that you enjoy to feel healthier and spend time with friends, rather than to specifically change your body, adding, "Health is not synonymous with looks, we must remember that."
A recent study also suggests that working out can boost body confidence, finding that just one 30-minute workout caused women to feel stronger, slimmer, and better about their body, even though there were no visible physical changes, compared to an activity which involved sitting and relaxing.
Use positive language
Changing your language from negative to positive can also help change your mindset. McIngvale recommends practicing positive self-talk, such as reminding yourself that you are worthy, you are beautiful.
"It is important to remind yourself of your worth and of the things that you love about yourself."
Focus on longer lasting goals
Body image can change every day says Dr. McIngvale, and even if we reach our ideal body goals we are still are not guaranteed to be completely satisfied with how we look. Because of this she says our focus should be on long-term health and wellness and who we are as a person, not body image.
"Remember to think about your attributes that make you feel good and that are rooted in substance," McIngvale said. "You should always be keeping yourself motivated about the traits that you love most about yourself and are most proud of about yourself. Often these qualities have nothing to do with looks but instead are focused on principles important to you and the way you define who you are and what you do."