I was with Angie at the thrift store yesterday looking for some fun t-shirts for an upcoming trip to the beach with my parents. I found some great stuff but couldn’t help but notice that Angie was acting differently. When I asked if she wanted to join us, she said no. I found that extremely odd since she loves hanging out with my parents and I, and I had to press her for minutes before she spilled the beans. She loves social media and constantly sees photos of other girls who are in better shape than she is. She’s come to the conclusion that her body is ugly and should be kept out of view, no matter what. This took me by surprise since she’s such a positive and confident person. I wonder what I can say to convince her otherwise.
We’re willing to bet your very own summer trip to the beach is currently being planned with your closest friends and family! But is your six-pack ready for the blazing sun? Have you toned your legs like you said you would? Are the pounds you said you’d shred gone in time for the warm sun-kissed sand?
Summer can often come with the many body expectations we put on ourselves or are given to us. This can lead to bouts of depression, insecurity and other emotions that can chip away at our well-being.
Triggered by Unrealistic Expectations
It’s safe to say that many of us would like to change at least something about our bodies. Maybe we’re starting to look a little pudgy around the belt, or perhaps our muscles could use some work. Whatever the case, the warm weather fashions and styles that come with summertime can often send us into hiding until cardigans and fluffy jackets make a comeback!
According to Julie de Azevedo Hanks, PhD, LCSW, a psychotherapist specializing in women’s health and relationships, there’s really no surprise that body image is a depression trigger. Especially when you consider “the unrealistic media expectations of how we’re supposed to look”, as Dr. Hanks puts it.
If you were to pick up any fashion magazine and flip through its pages, you’d be greeted by an endless sea of retouched images showing us unattainable perfection.
According to several studies, this exposure to altered images has been linked to depression, eating disorders and low self-esteem.
In fact, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, about 30 million people are afflicted by an eating disorder in our nation. Negative body image has repeatedly been found to be a determining factor in suicidal thoughts among college-aged students, specifically women.
Make it BetterBy recognizing your inner bully, you can choose to ignore it and be kind to yourself instead. Click To Tweet
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, which is why Rice Psychology Group wants to offer some steps to help you feel better about yourself throughout the year:
- Choose Wisely – All of those fashion, fitness and fun Instagram accounts you follow are great, but perhaps it’s time to let some accounts that promote self-love and body-acceptance into your feed.
- Love Your Body – It’s easier said than done, but if you can convince yourself that there’s at least a possibility to love your body as-is, you can begin to pass the obstacles that are in the way.
- Push the Comfort Zone – Perhaps wearing extra clothing makes it easier to be seen in public, but it’s time to take risks, even if they start off small. Maybe you can forego the light sweater in the 80-degree weather just for today. Or perhaps you can sit at the front of the class this time around. Remember: baby steps.
- Know the Inner-Bully – Do you believe that putting yourself down actually motivates you? In reality, doing so can be just as harmful as someone else doing this, like a bully. By recognizing your inner bully, you can choose to ignore it and be kind to yourself instead.
- Take the Loss – You’ve gone months and years telling yourself that your body is just not good enough. Now is the time to say that you were wrong. By doing so, you open the door to body positivity and the possibility of inching closer toward accepting yourself the way you are.
Let’s Move Forward
Sometimes it takes more than just a little motivation to get out of a “funk”. If this is the case for you or a loved one, know that Rice Psychology Group is here to help. We understand that it’s often difficult to understand what you’re feeling, which is why we’re ready to help you figure it out at your own pace. Our psychologists will accompany you through your journey towards feeling better. Contact us in Tampa today to find out more about our services.