Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit that helps boost your body image, whether directly or indirectly — and hopefully kick-starts your week on a positive note!
Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!
One of the most powerful things we can do when tackling a big project is to break it down into bite-sized steps. Suddenly, our project becomes a whole lot less overwhelming, and we’re able to make real progress.
Rather than facing some nebulous entity, we have specific tasks we can work on. Then we can schedule these tasks, without feeling super stressed or over-burdened.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Saad Shaheed
I think of body image in the same way. Building a healthier body image can seem like a big, overwhelming project. It can seem abstract and confusing and even scary.
What helps is to separate body image into its various components and then work on each part.
For instance, a positive body image can consist of these components: being comfortable in your own skin; appreciating your body; not letting how you feel about your physical appearance dictate your life; taking care of yourself; taking care of your health; not hyper-focusing on your weight.
And here’s how you might approach each component:
- In order to become more comfortable in your own skin, you practice a body scan every day.
- In order to appreciate your body, you start writing one thing you’re grateful for at the end of the day, even if it’s very tiny. I am grateful that my body helped me walk to work. I’m grateful that my hands helped me type out an important email. I am grateful for my heart for beating.
- In order to stop letting bad feelings about your body dictate your life, you start attending events, even when you don’t like how you look. You begin slow by meeting a friend for coffee or lunch. Then you go to the movies or dinner or a party.
- In order to take care of yourself, you jot down your non-negotiable needs, and you start meeting each need. For instance, you go to bed 30 minutes earlier, say no to commitments that don’t nourish you and journal your feelings every week.
- In order to take care of your health, you get regular check-ups. You also listen to your body. For instance, you eat when you’re hungry and feed your body nutrient-rich foods.
- In order to focus away from your weight, you toss the scale. You focus solely on how you’re feeling and what you’re doing. You up your energy levels by getting more sleep and participating in physical activities you really enjoy (whether you’re losing weight or not). You wear beautiful clothes that help you feel great — regardless of the size on the label. You also remind yourself that your worth isn’t tied to your weight.
Of course, a positive body image may mean something different for you. Think about your personal definition. Think about the specific components that make up your healthy body image. Then consider how you can take action for each component.
A positive body image is simply a big project that can be divided into separate feasible steps, actions and tasks. It also might consist of skills you need to learn, such as self-compassion and boundary-setting.