We all have days when we don’t feel great about ourselves, but for some women, this feeling is constant. Body image struggles can be incredibly damaging to your self-esteem and mental health, but there are things you can do to feel better.

How Do I Feel Better?

Here is some advice to help you feel better about yourself when you have body image issues:

1. Understand what you’re thinking and feeling. The first step to feeling better about your body is understanding your thoughts that generate your feelings. Are you telling yourself that someone else looks “better” than you? Do you think you have to meet unrealistic standards? Are you upset about a recent change in your appearance? How do these thoughts make you feel? For example, when you say, “Ashley looks so much better in a bathing suit than I do,” what emotions does that create? Jealousy? Contempt toward yourself? Disappointment?

2. Once you identify the thoughts that create your uncomfortable feelings, question them. If you’re constantly thinking negative things about your body, it’s time to challenge those thoughts. For example, if you’re thinking, “I’m so fat,” ask yourself, “Is that 100% true?” Or “Where did I get the idea that being fat is bad?” or “What would it mean if my body was fat?”

Think about what evidence there is for and against your negative thoughts. Are they based on fact or feeling? Don’t accept that all your negative thoughts are true.

Similarly, if you’re thinking that you need to lose weight to be happy, question this thought by asking yourself why weighing in at a lesser number on a scale would make you happier.

3. Replace your negative thoughts with positive or more neutral ones. This is easier said than done, but it’s important to think more realistically about your body. For example, if you’re thinking, “I’m so fat,” try to replace that thought with “I am open to being comfortable in my skin.” It also helps to focus on the qualities of your body that you are at least neutral about. These could be things like “I have strong legs,” or “I’m grateful for my 20/20 vision.” Think about the ways your body serves you.

4. Focus on your health, not your weight. This one is very important. Throw away your scale. The number on the scale is not indicative of your overall health and certainly not of your worth as a person, so don’t give it too much importance. Instead, focus on being as healthy as you can be. This means eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and taking care of your mental and emotional health.

5. Remember that all bodies are beautiful. Popular media would like to have us believe otherwise, but in reality, there are no “perfect” bodies, just different ones. From an early age, little girls are conditioned to think that a “beautiful” princess gets the prince. In cartoons, the “bad guy” is often overweight or ugly. It’s OK to let this brainwashing go. Remember that every person is unique and just right, regardless of their body shape or size.

When You Need Extra Support

6. If you’re still struggling, seek professional counseling or therapy. Don’t lose hope if you’re having trouble feeling good about your body.  A trained therapist or psychiatrist can help you get to the root of your body image issues and help you move past them. Seeking anxiety therapy with a trusted psychiatrist can provide you with the tools to work through your body image struggles. Please contact me for a free consultation to learn what this would look like.