We all occasionally feel unhappy about our haircut or feel a temporary embarrassment when we can’t fit in our old jeans anymore. While those feelings are completely normal (we all want to look our best) having constant negative opinions about your body can leave serious and lasting mental health issues. But how and how much poor body image affects mental health?
What is an unhealthy body image?
In order to define poor body image, first you need to know what BODY IMAGE actually means. Body image is the way you view your body, not just in the mirror or photographs, but in your brain. The term contains all the emotions and thoughts you have about your body, how you feel in it and how you believe it looks.
Whether your body image will be good or bad greatly depends on your self-esteem and self-love. What’s most important to realize is that body image is not something real, it’s mostly psychological—it’s in your head. And the way you look to yourself can have serious consequences on your mental health.
Effects of negative body image
Imagine this situation: You have a person recovering from anorexia. Many patients see their reflection and immediately think “Wow, I look huge” even if they look normal. This often escalates to more negative thoughts such as “I’m too fat…I’m not good enough…There’s no way anyone can love me like this”. These negative thoughts have a negative impact on mental health and can make one feel discouraged, depressed and anxious.
But, that’s not where mental issues triggered by poor body image stop, unfortunately. Some people with an obsessive preoccupation with their weight or body dysmorphia can even display symptoms of clinical depression and exhibit suicidal thoughts. That’s why having a positive body image is such an important part of self-care. Practicing self-love and respect can improve your mental health and the way you treat and see your body.
Improving your body image
So, what steps can you take in order to have a more positive body image? Well, there’s a whole range of things you can do. You can start by treating your body like a vessel for your mind—you have to feed it quality food and keep it well-hydrated in order to make your brain happy not to fit into some fictional beauty standards.
If there are physical issues that are particularly problematic for you yet easily fixed, like scars, why not handle them? If scars are your problem, check out some clinics for cosmetic surgery in Sydney where you can find experts in specific therapies and services that help improve your appearance. Instead of stressing out about hitting the beach or being intimate with your partner, now you can confidentially show off your body!
Surrounding yourself with positive people is also a great way to improve your body image. Social media can be very toxic and body-shaming, so unfollow anyone who triggers poor body image in you. Comparing yourself to others is a very tough habit to break, but once you do, it will do you so much good.
Benefits of a healthy body image
Having a good body image allows you to recognize your qualities and strengths instead of only focusing on your shortcomings. This will make you feel good and encourage you to resist the pressure to strive for the “perfect” body that you can see on TV or Instagram. A healthy body image will do wonders for your self-esteem that will dictate the way you treat yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When your self-esteem is high, you value your worth and your time and you know that you deserve good things and proper respect (both from others and yourself). You can appreciate your abilities and the strength of your body instead of putting yourself down for past mistakes. Healthy self-esteem will give your courage and strength to treat your body well even while dealing with difficult situations, feelings and thoughts. This is truly crucial for your mental health!
Body image and mental health are directly connected and they influence each other strongly. Poor body image can turn all your positive feelings, thoughts and behaviors sour! And the worst part is that if you don’t like your body (or parts of it) you can’t truly love your whole self and vice versa. So, it’s important to break this vicious circle and give both your body and mind the respect they deserve.