24 Jul The Psychology Behind a Positive Body Image
Body image is such a loaded topic. I’d love to say it’s purely personal, but it’s not. It’s heavily influenced by your culture, values, societal pressure, and media interpretations.
Think about all those times you’ve flipped through a high fashion magazine, looking at one 6’ tall, 120 pound model with flawless skin and long, flowing hair after another. What does that do your self-esteem and body image at that moment?
With PCOS, we’re usually struggling with extra weight, hair loss, acne, and hair in all the wrong places. All of that can trash your self-image and lead to negative feelings about your body. The more you dislike your body, the more it tends to affect your mood.
Negative body image can contribute to both depression and anxiety. If you’re paralyzed at the mere thought of shopping for a swimsuit, let alone wearing it in public, it can contribute to anxiety. People with a form of the obsessive-compulsive disorder called body dysmorphia may focus excessively on perceived flaws, to the point where it begins to affect their ability to engage in the rest of their lives effectively. Feeling helpless and hopeless about ever being able to “fix” your PCOS body – and oh! – how I’ve been there – will contribute to depression as well.
Now imagine that you look in the mirror and you like what you see. You see yourself accurately, both flaws and assets. You like what you’re wearing. All of your PCOS-related body issues seem manageable. Your mood is good. But how do you get there?
Here’s what to do to improve your body image:
- Recognize that there are innumerable body shapes, sizes, and colors. There’s no such thing as “perfect” except an image you’ve got in your mind that you idolize.
- Focus on the positives about your body. Start small and neutral. Cute earlobes, nice nails, pretty eye color. There’s got to be some little part of you that you can focus some love on. Do it every day. Then focus on expanding that love a little. Nice nails? How about nice hands?
- Practice gratitude. According to the folks at Harvard, gratitude makes you happier. Simple as that. Start a gratitude list on an app, in the notes section of your phone, or on paper. Add several items to it every day. You’ll soon begin to notice that you feel more positive about everything, including your body.
- Use your body the way it was intended. We were not meant to be glued to chairs or planted on the couch. Our bodies were designed to move. Every day, do a little walking, some gentle stretching or yoga, or some other form of conscious movement. You will soon notice an increased appreciate for your body’s capabilities.
- Give your body some respect by giving it the foods that it loves. Not the cheeseburger and fries kind of love – the fish and vegetables kind of love! When your body gets good fuel, it feels better, and you may just find yourself liking it a little more.
Come join us on the PCOS Psychology group on Facebook, where we talk about self-esteem, body image, and ways to support your psychological well-being every day!