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When Obsessing with a Perfect Body Image Becomes a Disease

When Obsessing with a Perfect Body Image Becomes a Disease

It’s no secret that men and women struggle with body image. We are constantly bombarded with ideas of the “perfect body” and despite knowing it’s photo-shopped beyond belief, it can be difficult to ignore the feeling that we need to change somehow.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders claims that eight million people in the U.S. have some type of eating disorder. That’s about 3% of the total population.[1]

So what can we do? How to practice self-love without flaunting our “hot” bodies in the face of someone who hates their body? How do we overcome shame and practice acceptance? Read on to find out.

Self-worth is NOT about size!

Hey. You. You’re worth it. You deserve happiness. You’re an incredible person and you should really recognize that in yourself. If you feel like you’ll never be able to think positively about yourself, take a breath. We’ll get there together. Not only are you beautiful/handsome exactly as you are, but you’re smart and witty and just plain awesome.

First of all, let’s define some things:

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Body Image: Body image is just that; an image. It’s based on your thoughts and your feelings about your body. The way you think other people look at you can negatively impact your own self-views, and cause a slew of negative thoughts bout your appearance. It’s the way you feel about yourself, inside and out. And it’s a big deal [2].

Self-esteem: Do you like yourself? Do you recognize how awesome and unique you are? If so, you have great self-esteem. If not, we’ll get there. If you have low self-esteem, it can be really hard for you to feel worthy and confident. When you have good self-esteem, you feel empowered, courageous and confident. You find yourself really caring about your mental and emotional health. And it’s not just about liking your body. It’s liking everything that makes you, you!

    It’s okay that you aren’t happy with yourself every single second.

    Take this test adapted from the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale to gauge where your self-esteem currently is. Add up the number of points you’ve chosen. The higher the number, the higher your self-esteem.

    The way you answer the questions can fluctuate, as we can’t all be 100% happy with ourselves all the time.[3]

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      Thankfully, there are steps you can take to boost your self-esteem.

      1. Realize how cool you are. Make a list of all the things that make you, you! This isn’t being cocky, it’s being confident. You have so many unique qualities. Appreciate that about yourself.
      2. Put your heart into your work. Whether at school or a career, really give 110% every day. Learning gives you so much power and the confidence to change the world.
      3. Stay active. Take a dance class or join a team. Go for walks and don’t text the whole time. Focusing on your own health is one of the best ways to be selfish and start to love yourself.
      4. Stop being so cruel to yourself. Do you tell yourself things like, “I’m so fat,” “I’m so ugly,” “I hate how I look”? Ouch. Write down the things you’re saying to yourself. Then think about the list. How does it contribute to how stressed out you are? If it does, try to get to the root of it. Maybe you tell yourself you’re fat, and maybe you have since a relative told you your stomach was getting big. It’s okay to acknowledge if you’re medically overweight and want to get healthier, but don’t confuse poor health for “disgusting,” “gross,” “unworthy”.[4] And don’t let someone’s words, no matter how recently they were spoken, impact your current views.
      5. Make a new list. Write down mantras that you will try to practice. Try things like “I won’t speak harshly to myself. I will not judge other peoples’ bodies in an attempt to feel better about mine. I will not allow others to be cruel to me about my looks.”
      6. Challenge yourself. Try to avoid insulting yourself for a whole week. How did it feel? Do you feel different physically?

      Ditch that body/image shame.

      Speak Kindly, even if the voice is in your head.

      The things you say inside your head don’t always stay there. In fact, the mean things you tell yourself can impact your emotions and even your opinion of other people. Even if you’re reading this and thinking that you are pretty kind to yourself, realize there is always room for improvement.

      So if your list of mean things you say to yourself is really short, focus on making it a goal to write an even shorter list. Monitor your self-talk weekly and consistently try to replace any hurtful words with kind ones.[5]

        Stop focusing on other peoples’ opinions.

        This is a tricky one, especially in a time of judging ourselves based on the number of virtual “likes” we receive. Overthinking and hyper-focusing on someone else’s words or actions toward us is dangerous and downright destructive.

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        Time to wake up, people. The voice in your head is not who you are. It’s just an excitable commentator. You are the game. – Mark Rice-Oxley

        Basically, we have to create a whole new relationship with our thoughts. We need to be aware of when that bad day we’re having was completely created by our own self-loathing. Be present in the real world, and spend less time on social media. Get in the habit of telling yourself why you’re awesome as soon as you wake up. Don’t obsess when things go wrong, celebrate when things go right.[6]

        Regain control.

        Fun fact: You are in charge of yourself. You determine your worth. Not the model on the cover of a magazine, not the popular girl you graduated with that has 3K Instagram followers. You.

        It’s just a fact: someone will always be wealthier than you, smarter than you, prettier than you, etc. But that doesn’t mean you’re poor, dumb and ugly! Why spend your life comparing yourself to other people when your body is the only one you get to live in. Love yourself. The rest will follow.[7]

        Drop the negativity, even if it means dropping “friends”.

        It’s an ugly fact, but it’s a fact all the same. Toxic people have toxic attitudes, and that toxicity is contagious. Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you, encourage you and love you. A wise woman once said, “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” and she is so very right.

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          Quit comparing.

          I know, I know, I’ve already said this. But it’s that important! Psychologist Leon Festinger said that our desire to compare ourselves to others is a drive as powerful as thirst! Think about that for a second. The only person we should compare ourselves to is our past selves. Take a look at where you are versus where you’ve been. Appreciate those mile-markers, not someone else’s.[8]

          Remember: There is no such thing as perfection.

          I think we’ve all come across at least one person in our lives that seemed to have it all. The perfect relationship, the perfect job, the perfect bank account, etc. But did they really? Eh, probably not.

          When you look at someone’s outward appearance and assume you know how easy they have it, remind yourself that you don’t know anything about their journey. Instead of being jealous of that person or wishing you were them, appreciate how inspired you are by him/her and focus on making the necessary changes in your life to be proud of yourself.[9]

          So make it a point to start new today. Take baby steps toward liking yourself. Eventually, you’ll be taking strides toward loving yourself. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, physically, mentally or emotionally. Appreciate people for what makes them unique, and rejoice in what makes you, you.

          Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

          Reference

          More by this author

          Heather Poole

          Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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          Last Updated on March 17, 2020

          4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting

          4 Simple Ways to Make Boring Work Become Interesting

          Are you bored at work right now?

          Sitting at your desk, wishing you could be anywhere other than here, doing anything else…?

          You’re not alone.

          Even when you have a job you love, it’s easy to get bored. And if your job isn’t something you’re passionate about, it’s even easier for boredom to creep in.

          Did you know it’s actually possible to make any job more interesting?

          That’s right.

          Whether it’s data entry or shelf stacking, even the most mind-numbing of jobs can be made more fun.

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          Understanding the science behind boredom is the first step to beating it.

          Read on to learn the truth about boredom, and what you can do to stop feeling bored at work for good.

          VIDEO SUMMARY

          I’m bored – as you’re watching the same film over and over again, even though it’s your favorite one

          When you experience something new, your brain releases opioids – chemicals which make you feel good. [1]

          It’s the feeling you might get when you taste a new food for the first time, watch a cool new film, or meet a new person.

          However, the next time you have the same experience, the brain processes it in a different way, without releasing so many feel-good chemicals.

          That’s why you won’t get the same thrill when you eat that delicious meal for the tenth time, rewatch that film again, or spend time with the same friend.

          So, in a nutshell, we get bored when we aren’t having any new experiences.

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          Now, new experiences don’t have to be huge life changes – they could be as simple as taking a different route to work, or picking a different sandwich shop for lunch.

          We’re going to apply this theory to your boring job.

          Keep reading find out how to make subtle changes to the way you work to defeat boredom and have more fun.

          Your work can be much more interesting if you learn these little tricks.

          Ready to learn how to stop feeling so bored at work?

          We’ve listed some simple suggestions below – you can start implementing these right now.

          Let’s do this.

          Make routine tasks more interesting by adding something new

          Sometimes one new element is all it takes to turn routine tasks from dull to interesting.

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          Maybe there’s a long drive you have to make every single week. You get so bored, going the same old route to make the same old deliveries.

          Why not make it a routine to create a playlist of new music each Sunday, to listen to on your boring drive during the week?

          Just like that, something you dread can be turned into the highlight of your day.

          For other routine tasks, you could try setting a timer and trying to beat your record, moving to a new location to complete the task, or trying out a new technique for getting the work done – you might even improve your productivity, too.

          Combine repetitive tasks to get them out of the way

          Certain tasks are difficult to make interesting, no matter how hard you try.

          Get these yawn-inducing chores out of the way ASAP by combining them into one quick, focused batch.

          For example, if you hate listening to meeting recordings, and dislike tidying your desk, do them both at the same time. You’ll halve the time you spend bored out of your mind, and can move onto more interesting tasks as soon as you’re done.

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          Break large tasks into small pieces and plan breaks between them

          Feeling overwhelmed can lead you to procrastinate and get bored. Try breaking up large tasks into lots of small pieces to keep things manageable and fun.

          Try breaking up a 10,000 word report into 1000-word sections. Reward yourself at the end of each section, and you’ll get 10 mini mood boosts, instead of just one at the end.

          You can also plan short breaks between each section, which will help to prevent boredom and keep you focused.

          Give yourself regular rewards, it can be anything that makes you feel good

          Make sure you reward yourself for achievements, even if they feel small.

          Rewards could include:

          • Eating your favourite snack.
          • Taking a walk in a natural area.
          • Spending a few minutes on a fun online game.
          • Buying yourself a small treat.
          • Visiting a new place.
          • Spending time on a favourite hobby.

          Your brain will come to associate work with fun rewards, and you’ll soon feel less bored and more motivated.

          Boredom doesn’t have to be a fact of life.

          Make your working life feel a thousand times more fun by following the simple tips above.

          Reference

          [1] Psychology Today: Why People Get Bored

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