As much as we love spending time at the beach and making up for an entire winter indoors, picking out our favorite bikini and feeling completely body-confident comes with a lot of challenges.
Today, we are grateful to hear from Sheina Schochet, who shares her important perspective on 5 ways to improve body image, confidence, and as a result of both, mental health.
I grew up in Miami, where we had summer all year round. Summer meant time off from school. Longer days. More time to spend in the pool and playing with friends. When I moved up to New York, I became more aware of another part of summer. Temperatures rise, coats come off, and body insecurities soar. Many women become obsessed with what their “bikini body” will look like. The diet industry takes advantage of this.
Some parts are true: healthy eating habits can do good things for our bodies and our bodies do feel good when we move, whatever that looks like (a dance class, a walk on the boardwalk, or anything that feels good to you). However, constantly thinking about our bodies is not doing us any favors.
It’s important to be able to enjoy yourself at a BBQ or take a few days to rest when your life is really busy. The rigidness of diet culture doesn’t serve you well and can suck a lot of the joy out of life.
Do you find yourself focusing too much on what your body looks like or thinking you need to change something about it? Read on for 5 ways to help you improve your body image and what to do if those five things aren’t quite enough to turn things around.
1) Stop Comparing Yourself
I mean that in every way. It is so tempting to compare yourself to people when you think they look “better” than you, a past version of yourself that you liked more, or even someone who you think looks “worse” than you. In the moment, comparing ourselves to someone we think looks “worse” can make us feel better, but ultimately it keeps you in the comparison mindset and hyper-focused on your appearance.
On that note, if you use social media, notice if certain accounts make you feel bad about yourself and give yourself permission to unfollow them. Follow accounts that make you smile and entertain you, not ones that make you feel like you’re not “good enough.”
2) Learn to Practice Mindfulness
Be present where you are. Notice the things you see, what you smell, what you taste, what you hear, and how you feel with the people you’re with. Are all of your friends laughing over a funny memory? Is the watermelon the perfect texture and sweetness? These little reminders can help us stay in the moment.
3) Be Grateful
Think of all of the wonderful things your body does for you. It got you through painting your whole apartment in one weekend. Dancing at your best friend’s wedding. Running to make the train right before the doors closed. (That feeling, am I right?!) When we practice appreciation for our bodies, we’re not as caught up in wanting to change it.
4) Replace Negative Self-Talk
Notice how you talk to yourself when you look in the mirror. Instead of pinching and picking at all those things you wish were gone or different, look at those things you love about yourself. It could be your smile, eye color, hair, lip shape, freckles, or anything else that you really like. Trust me, we can ALL find something!
5) Focus on Goals
I don’t mean the goals that typically come to mind when you think of your body. I mean your life goals. What are you passionate about? What are things you would like to contribute to this world? What impact would you like to make? Your body isn’t you. It’s the physical vehicle that carries you through this life and allows you to do the things that matter to you. So go do those things!
If you try these 5 tips and find that you’re still struggling with negative body image or viewing yourself positively, then reach out to a therapist. We are here to help you when you can’t do it alone or just want some extra support.
And therapy is easier to access than ever. MyWellbeing can help you find the best fit for you. There are so many therapists out there, you just need to find that ONE that resonates with you and start your journey to a happier, healthier you.
We hope these tips have been helpful for you in understanding ways to improve your relationship with your body. To see Sheina talk through these tips, check out our Instagram stories (and highlights on this and other topics) @findmywellbeing.
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Sheina Schochet, LMHC is a licensed therapist, relationship coach, and professor living in NYC. Sheina works with successful women struggling with relationships, body image, and/or life transitions, teaching them to work on solutions and challenge the thoughts and behaviors that keep them stuck. You can contact Sheina via email: [email protected] or follow her on Instagram at @thriveandshinewellness.