Cultivate Good Habits: Healthy Body Image

man happy with his body

Women, men, adults, teens… we’re all affected by it: the way we perceive our body. A body image is how we see or perceive ourselves, how we feel about our body and how we feel others perceive us.

Having a negative body image can influence people on a much deeper level than just hiding their stomach or covering themselves on the beach – it can significantly reduce their self-esteem and, if allowed, it can affect all areas of their lives. In a very negative way.

So how do we keep a healthy body image? How do we stay… well, sane in the world of glossy fashion magazines and social media?

And how do we keep our children from becoming depressed for not having the perfect body, perfect nose, perfect skin?

5 Steps to Your Positive Body Image

man happy with his body

If you’re struggling with your body image, there’s really no one else but you who can change that. You have to change the way you think about your body – and you have to work on it, so practice these new thought patterns and allow yourself to feel better about who you are and the body you naturally have.

1. Make a top ten list of things you like about yourself.

You can put in the physical attributes that you like, but include as many things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like as you can. Carry this list with you all the time and read it often.

2. Shut down the negative voices in your head.

You know them – the voices that tell you your body is not “right”. Have a set of a few quick affirmations that you can use the next time these negative thoughts appear, and combat them with positive ones.

3. Do something nice for yourself.

Let your body know that you appreciate it – take a bubble bath, find a place to relax, make time for a nap. your body needs to feel loved.

4. Surround yourself with positive people.

Spend as much time as you can surrounded with positive and supportive people who aren’t afraid to say kind words to you (and do the same for them). It’s a lot easier to feel good about yourself when you’re around people who love and support you just the way you are.

5. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages.

What images, slogans, or attitudes make you feel bad about yourself and your body? Pay attention to them and analyze them. You know how Photoshop works, right?

Help Your Teens Accept Their Bodies.

self conscious teen looking at his body

Teen bodies are constantly growing and changing; bombarded with idealized, often computer-enhanced, body images that are impossible to measure up to can make them self-conscious and hyper-aware of every small imperfection. Help them to navigate this difficult time of life and develop a positive self-image – as a parent you have much more influence than you think.

Be a good role model.

Your teen is closely observing and modelling your attitudes about your body, so be a good model: don’t stress out too much about an extra pound, stop constantly decrying your hip size; if you haven’t yet then begin an exercise program, adopt a healthier diet… It’s no use to just tell them that they should accept the way they look – you have to show them how it’s done.

Never make negative remarks about their bodies or abilities.

If your teen has a weight problem, you can be sure that s/he already knows about it. There’s no need to criticize what and how much s/he eats, how s/he looks like in that jeans… It will only make your teen feel more discouraged. Compliment them instead, show them that you appreciate their physical capabilities (opening a jar, folding laundry…), encourage good personal hygiene and posture and healthy sleep habits.

This will help them to adopt a healthy body image and to gain confidence.

Emphasize other qualities over appearance.

Your teen should develop talents and skills that have nothing to do with appearance: sports, music, arts, other activities. Support their passions and pursuits, show them that there are so many other things to appreciate in a person other than physical appearance.

It’s simple really: understand that every body is perfect, and let your kids know that as well. Nurture healthy habits as a way to take care of our bodies (it’s our responsibility after all) and always appreciate a person (including yourself) as a whole. Beauty is in the eyes of beholder anyway 🙂

Do something good for your body image now – let us know what you appreciate about it in the comments!