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By Terryann Sanders,
Marriage and Family Therapist
June 28, 2019
10 Ways to Improve Body Image
Negative body thoughts can create stress and anxiety and sometimes impact our willingness to participate in social events or socialize with people we care about. If these thoughts become overwhelming we may become isolated and have less joy in our lives. Here are some daily tips for improving how you feel about yourself, your body, and your life!
1. Become a good consumer.
Question societal messages that suggest you are not okay just as you are. Remember there are reasons that marketers and sellers of products want you to dislike your appearance.
2. Be more compassionate with yourself and others.
Become more aware of the negative thoughts you have about your body and replace them with the things you like about your body and your personality. Notice when you are being judgmental of others and remind yourself to be compassionate instead.
3. Redefine your idea of beauty.
Notice the beauty in everyday things including your interactions with others and your interactions with nature. Expand your notion of beauty to things beyond your appearance. Take note of the beauty around you and share it with others.
4. View your negative thoughts as thoughts and not truths.
Just because you think it doesn’t make it true. You can learn to observe your negative thoughts and then let them go. They control you only when you let them.
5. Have realistic expectations of yourself and others.
Let go of any perfectionistic tendencies that lead to negative body thoughts. Your body is not meant to be perfect, and trying to achieve perfection results in unrealistic goal setting and feeling as if you are failing.
6. Use daily affirmations as a reminder of who you want to be vs. how you want to look.
Use post its, phone alarms, computer reminders et al. to help you remember what truly matters to you. For example: “I treat myself with love and kindness and know that I am worthy.” Or: “Today I notice the beauty in myself and others and in the nature all around me.”
7. Become aware of events that trigger negative thoughts and feelings.
Understanding the relationship of environmental triggers to negative body talk allows you to make changes or plan to do something differently when you will be in a triggering situation or environment.
8. Plan for success in high risk situations.
When you know you will be in an environment that will trigger negative body thoughts take time to plan how you will do good self-care. What can you do to take care of yourself in this situation? Think in advance about how long you should stay, specifically what you might eat while you are there, or bring a friend to distract and support you. When we feel prepared we are generally less anxious and more successful.
9. Get in touch with your body in a positive way.
Increase activities that provide opportunities to feel good about yourself and your body. These activities might include things like yoga, pilates, dancing, stretching, meditation, physical exercise etc. Try focusing on how your body feels in the moment when you are doing these activities vs. judging or trying to change how it looks.
10. Remind yourself of the things your body allows you to do.
Your body has purpose beyond being attractive to others. Remember, your body houses your spirit and allows you to be you. Be grateful for the many wonderful gifts your body gives you every day you are alive!
About the Author
Terryann Sanders is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and an iaedp Approved Supervisor. She worked with adolescents and adults with eating disorders in the Bay Area for over 15 years, and recently moved her private practice to Roseville, CA. Terryann provides individual, group and family therapy, and works collaboratively with clinicians and professionals in the eating disorder community.