Struggling with body image is a common problem, but that doesn't stop it from being destructive to one's own sense of self-worth. If left alone, a poor self-perception can lead to further mental and emotional conditions such as anorexia, depression or anxiety. However, there are several practical steps you can take to help repair the damage done by a poor body image and gain healing. Below are five of these:
Turn off the television
One of the easiest things you can do to begin building a positive body image is to reduce your exposure to television and other media venues. Much of what is promoted in entertainment media centers around fantasy and unrealistic portrayals of life. Everything from what people eat to their clothing to their relationships is given a superficial "spin" in the media, and this can be a source of significant emotional doubt.
If you struggle with body image, it is important to separate yourself from these false ideals; instead of watching television and being bombarded with visuals that don't mesh with reality, look for ways to engage with others. By keeping your focus on real people and learning to accept others for who they are, you will also learn to accept yourself as others see you.
Surround yourself with supportive friends
Another key to improving your body image is by placing yourself in settings with supportive friends. If you find yourself spending significant time with others who won't support you for who you are, then find new friends. Refuse to waste your relational energy on others who value superficiality or place all of their own self-worth on their appearance.
Seek balance in life
Physical fitness is a national obsession; approximately 50 million Americans belong to fitness centers and gyms, and millions more engage in regular physical activities on their own or in other venues. While exercise improves physical health and mental well-being, it can be its own obsession that promotes an unhealthy body image, particularly for individuals who struggle to meet what they believe is a physical ideal.
That is why those who are challenged with accepting their own body image should understand the importance of stepping back and placing physical fitness in its rightful place. Life is more than just exercise, and a healthy attitude means understanding the intrinsic value in other activities, such as social interaction, mental stimulation, spiritual development and even relaxation and reflection.
Get rid of your scale
One thing that individuals who struggle with poor body image often do is weigh themselves repeatedly. They may spend significant amounts of time standing on a scale and berating themselves for gaining a tenth of a pound, for example. However, other than unusual medical situations, there is probably no reason for a person with poor body image to own a scale. If you are concerned that you will lose track of your own weight, then that is exactly the reaction you should have. By removing the ritual and daily dreaded reminders, you can free your own mind from the obsession of weight measurement. This will help you move away mentally and emotionally from negative thoughts about your own body.
Elevate other people
Another way you can help improve your own body image is by taking steps to encourage other people. Find individuals who, like yourself, have their own self-doubts and struggles and need to hear a message of affirmation. You can seek out these opportunities via support groups that allow you to share your common struggles, or you may wish to look for other avenues to serve. By giving of your own self to others who are vulnerable, you will begin to embrace the common humanity that all persons share.
If you're still struggling with body image seeking help from an eating disorder treatment center by Center for Change or something similar may be helpful.