Body Image is a component of Mental Health that many of us do not tend to discuss. It relates to the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings they may have because of that perception. The way you perceive your physical self is based upon four factors. How you see your body, how you feel about your body, how you think about your body, and the behaviours you adopt as a result of your perception. Many of us fall victim to having a negative body image. This leads us to put ourselves at risk of mental health illnesses like depression, isolation, obsession with weight loss, and in extreme cases, eating disorders. This blog is here to help you turn that negative perception into a positive one!
So, what external factors have an impact on our Body Image?
Yes, you guessed it, in the world we live in today, social media is the biggest hinderance towards the way we perceive ourselves. Many of us follow celebrities or fitness accounts that portray the ‘perfect body’ to be just one specific body type; one that is extremely difficult and unrealistic for most of us to achieve without causing our bodies some serious harm. School age children are also falling victim to this as a result of being allowed phones/ social media from younger ages. They then begin to concern themselves with issues that may be significant at an older age but are not concerns at their age. This can then lead to an early onset of the mental illnesses mentioned above.
Does everyone’s mental health suffer with negative body image perceptions?
If you asked most people who they considered to be associated with this topic, you could bet that the majority of answers you received would have some link to women. Men suffer massive amounts of pressure too! In today’s society, men’s mental health is unfortunately not discussed anywhere near as much as women. We all suffer. Men often experience a lot of pressure to achieve a muscular physique. Men tend to have certain stereotypes such as the ‘man of the house. Having to be there to protect everyone, when, at the end of the day, they’re only human. Negative body images linked to this can often lead to eating disorders, depression, low self-confidence. This can quite often result in the use of performance enhancing drugs like steroids. Again, these extremes we will go to, to get that ‘perfect body,’ often come with serious health implications.
So how can we change our perceptions from negative to positive?
Appreciate what your body CAN do and really concentrate on all the positive things about yourself; consider yourself as a whole person and not just a body. Also, accept that every body is different and compare your progress to your past self rather than someone else. Shut down those negative voices in your head and replace them with positive ones and unfollow those accounts that hold unrealistic expectations for society. And finally, if you are going to try and physically change your body image, seek help from a professional like a personal trainer, who can help you do it safely.
Do it for you, not for society!
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