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Feeling good about ourselves is something we would all like to enjoy – both physically and mentally.

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So why do we find it so difficult to love ourselves and even more to the point, love our bodies?

Many modern-day trappings are blamed for causing anything from a low self-esteem all the way up to full body dysmorphia – but our issues with how we look happened before social media, and even the internet.

Yes, Instagram may seem full of perfect looking people to whom we may compare ourselves; but there is a whole other side to social media where accounts and influencers are not only championing body positivity but actively taking down fat shamers.

It Can Be a Mental Health Condition

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is recognised as a mental health condition where a person worries a lot about flaws in their appearance; flaws that may not exist and or are unnoticeable to others.

BDD doesn’t make you self-obsessed but can be upsetting and have a big impact on you. All ages can have BDD, but it’s most common in teenagers and young adults and affects men and women.

Why You Might Feel Like This

It’s not known what exactly causes BDD. Like so many mental health conditions, it may result from a combination of issues, such as a family history of the disorder, abnormalities in the brain, and negative evaluations or experiences about your body or self-image, such as unkind words from peers, bullying or even abuse when we were younger.

What is known is how much of a negative impact it can have, and that it can lead to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and even suicidal thoughts. As with any serious mental health conditions, if it is impacting hugely on your life; speak to your doctor. There are multiple treatments that can help manage BDD, such as CBT or medication.

Our Bodies Are Scientific Miracles

Despite our emotions when we look in the mirror or how we feel on the beach, our bodies are perfect and are performing little miracles every day. We only get one of them, so looking at what they do for us every day can – and often does – help with a negative body image.

Ten Steps to Love Your Body

1. Positive affirmations – speak it aloud, loud and often. Daily verbal encouragements such as saying a kind thing to yourself in the mirror in the morning, or leaving encouraging notes everywhere can go a long way.

2. Be kind to others – we can judge others harshly when we judge ourselves; so opening ourselves up to being kind makes it easier to be kind to ourselves. Give compliments you’d like to hear.

3. Think healthier, not thinner – with meals or the gym, try not to focus on numbers on your scales rather than showing respect and appreciation for your body. Focus on the amazing things it can do, all the places it can take you, how it feels, and the experience it brings you.

4. Surround yourself with positivity – curate your social media to hide negativity and unachievable goals. Follow positive people who practice self-love and encourage you to be who you are.

5. Stop comparing yourself to others – we are all different, yet we all have traits that make us beautiful. If we were all the same, it would be boring. You’re not supposed to look like someone else; you’re supposed to look like you – so embrace your uniqueness and beauty.

6. Focus on the things you like about yourself – it’s easy to see only negative things. If you do, counter it with something positive. List things you like about your body including the things it allows you to do as well as the looks. It will take daily repetition but keep at it.

7. Cut out negative self-talk – treat your body with the same kindness you’d treat a friend – if you’re telling yourself something you’d feel bad saying about a friend’s body, then don’t say it! You don’t deserve verbal abuse from anybody, especially from yourself.

8. Absorb body positive messages – the world is full of negative messages so balance it with good, positive perspectives. Seek out the many books and sites encouraging body positivity.

9. Do something nice for your body – thank it with a gift like a bubble bath, a hike, a rest day or even a super nutritional meal. Listen to it and give it the nourishment it asks for.

10. Focus on your whole person – to have a healthy body image we must stop fixating on our body. Spend more time thinking about more than physical appearance. Do all the things that are healthy and wholesome self-care routines that nurture you and your wellbeing.

All bodies are perfect. It’s time to appreciate what we have and what they do for us.

And finally…

PoetsIN have a range of resources available for free. They’re easy to download and will help with all things mental wellbeing. It is as important to invest time in our mental health as well as our physical health. Visit: poetsin.com/resources to get your copies.

Author: Paul Chambers, The Creative Mental Health Charity

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