Healthy body image and self-esteem are a big part of well-being, as they can change the way you understand your value and worth as an individual. Contrary to popular belief, body image and self-esteem actually start in your mind, not in the mirror.
Over time, body image and self-esteem develop and can be influenced by many things, including family attitudes, peer groups, advertising, media and social expectations. Body image and self-esteem isn’t necessarily about your looks – but instead about how you perceive yourself, how you feel about the way you look, and how you think others see you.
Poor body image and self-esteem for both boys and girls can lead to harmful weight management strategies, eating disorders and mental health problems.
How can I encourage positive body image and improve my self-esteem?
- Treat both your body and mind with respect. Remember to talk kindly to yourself, as you would towards loved ones. Surround yourself with friends and family who recognize your uniqueness and like you just as you are.
- Remember that everyone has challenges with their body image and self-esteem at times. When you open up to your loved ones, you might discover that they are in a similar situation and realise that you can both provide support for each other.
- Eat well-balanced meals and participate in enjoyable exercise, not as a way to control your body, but because it makes you feel good and strong. Appreciate your body for what it does for you, not just what it looks like.
- Question yourself when you judge yourself or others based on weight, shape, or size. Are there other more meaningful qualities you could look for when those thoughts pop up? Focus on emphasising inner strengths and skills instead.
- The next time you notice yourself having negative thoughts about your body and experiencing low self-esteem, take a minute to think about what’s going on in your life. Are you feeling stressed out, anxious, or low? Are you facing challenges in other parts of your life? How can you deal with these situations and who can you talk to in order to help re-establish a healthy mind and body image?
- When a negative thought does appear, try to follow it with a positive thought. Perhaps find a few short quotes that help you feel good about yourself and leave them around your home or store them in your phone for a quick pick-me-up.
- Be critical of unrealistic images and stories in the media. Limit your time using social media or reading magazines if it’s making you feel bad about yourself.
When you’re continually struggling with your body image or self-esteem, it is likely that you’ll isolate yourself and crave an outlet with which you can share your struggles. Online forums, such as SameBoat.com, can be a great way to connect with others and celebrate body positivity. However, many aspects of social media can also be triggering, so it is important to practice self-care when engaging online.
SameBoat's platforms is safe, anonymous, easy to use and open 24/7. If you feel as though you have no one you can turn to or you don't quite yet feel comforatable voicing your concerns to family and freidns, then our forums may be able to provide you with the support and encouragement you need to overcome your struggles, no matter how big or small.