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How to Tackle Negative Body Image this Summer

Summer can be such a difficult time for our issues with negative body image. Warmer weather means less clothing, and this can come with a lot more feelings of self-consciousness and negative self-talk. And with everyone saying “I love the warmer weather!” it can sometimes feel like we are alone in our struggles.

However, this is far from the truth. If we knew everything everyone else was thinking, we’d probably be shocked by how these insecurities are so much more common than we think. You are certainly not alone. When it comes to managing the thoughts and feelings that come along with having a negative body image, there are science-backed ways to help us get through it. Try out a few of these strategies:

  1. Validate yourself. This is challenging! It makes sense that you’re feeling anxious based on your past experience with body image, dieting, and the like. Even if the anxiety feels unhelpful, it’s important that we’re not gaslighting ourselves when we’re feeling uncomfortable! 
  2. Make a plan. Use skills like distracting, connecting with others, and self-soothing to tolerate the distress. For example, rather than acting on anxiety to avoid an event, ask yourself “what skills can I use to tolerate the discomfort of attending?” Make a plan!
  3. Notice your self-talk. If you find yourself saying hurtful or critical things to yourself, these thoughts are only making your shame and fear more intense. When these thoughts come up, think about how you can approach the situation with just the facts. For example, instead of “Everyone’s going to judge me- I look so ugly” reframe to “I’m headed to this party. I’m feeling uncomfortable because this is out of my comfort zone, and I have skills to help me get through it.”
  4. Approach, don’t avoid. Avoidance only makes anxiety worse. While it’s understandable that fear and shame make us want to avoid, we must recognize that this will add insult to injury, and only reinforce that we can’t handle being out in the world (which is so not true!)

Pick one of these strategies to practice for the next week. Remember, the more we practice, the more it becomes second nature! Shame, fear, and a negative body image don’t need to hold you back from connecting with others and sharing positive experiences this summer.

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