Dealing with negative body image and lockdown ending

If you’ve opened this because you’re struggling with the concept of being seen again once lockdown ends, here are some things we want you to know…
  • Even though the experience of disliking your body feels so isolating, you are not alone
  • You are not a ‘failure’ for not loving yourself wholly and completely. Everything comes in waves. This is just one such wave
  • Fighting against your physical self is a unique and inescapable battle. It is hard. Grant yourself permission to be compassionate in the midst of these types of battles

We spoke to our Senior Occupational Therapist, Kendra, to hear her tips for how to cope with negative body image and fears around being seen once we’re out of lockdown. Get your pens at the ready:

Shift your focus

“Be mindful of where your thoughts go. If you notice they are moving towards your body or into unhelpful thinking patterns, see if you can redirect your thoughts to external things such as an activity you enjoy, or the conversation you are having with someone.”

When it comes to looking at our physical appearance, we often look and see what we want to see as opposed to the reality. This means that if we believe we are unattractive in one way or another, we will look for things to reinforce and validate that message (this is called “confirmation bias”).

We can tackle this by being aware that this is our pattern of thinking. Once we understand that it’s become ingrained enough to feel like our reality, we can begin to question it and reverse it.

Wear clothes you feel comfortable in

“Think specifically about their sensory feel. Consider the softness of the material, the visual cut of the clothes, as opposed to how your body looks in the outfit.”

There are so many different ways to hold a perspective about the clothes we wear. Turn your attention towards the individual items themselves as opposed to how they are making your body look.

Practice gratitude

“Make a list of at least five things that you are grateful your body can do for you, as opposed to how it looks, and hold those as gentle reminders.”

Ask yourself:

What is one thing my body has helped me to do in the last few days?
What are my favourite ways to move my body?
What’s one way I can celebrate my body today/this week?

Hold a ‘critical’ view of social media

Be mindful of your relationship with social media, most notably, the type of content you are consuming and how that content truly makes you feel about your body.

Even the content that claims to be “body positive” can actually reinforce negative thoughts towards ourselves. Be honest with yourself about how you feel and what thoughts these posts provoke within you.

Surround yourself with positive people who do not put focus on your body

Your body is just one aspect of who you are!

We encourage our clients to shift their focus and perspective, expanding it away from a dialogue around body weight, shape and size, and instead to focus on all the unique things that make you who you are.

Some questions to ask to help expand this internal narrative:

What makes me laugh?
Who do I love, and who do I know loves me back?
What fulfils me?
What would I like to learn from scratch?

‘Bodies’ preoccupy so much of our media and celebrity culture. But being obsessed with bodies is simply one way of thinking. Every second of our day is an opportunity to reshape our attitudes towards our bodies. If you have a bad day, you can start over as many times as you need. By realising this, we can begin to reshape our narrative and gradually let go of a perspective that is no longer serving us.

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