Let’s Talk About Body Image

Let’s Talk About Body Image

As temperatures rise in the summer, we are often placed in situations that aggravate our difficulties with body image. Summer comes with a specific set of stressors around body image that can lead to the development of insecurities or heighten ones that are already present.

It can feel impossible to be confident in your body when we are constantly inundated with messages about the ideal body type and how to achieve that standard.

This can impact your mental health can by heightening anxiety, self-criticism, comparison, or isolation. You may find yourself avoiding certain social situations because the activities involved include wearing a bathing suit or a more revealing outfit. You may know someone who has started starting “eating clean” or begun a new workout routine in pursuit of achieving that “beach body” standard. The search for the ideal summer body can overshadow the enjoyment of activities with friends and family. Emma Reaney, a licensed counselor at Vive who frequently works with body image concerns, says, “Our self-confidence doesn’t have to be tied to our body. Your body is one of the least interesting things about you. People remember how you make them feel, what you say, and how you treat others.”

Here are some questions to consider when evaluating your level of self-criticism towards your body:

  • When I look in the mirror what is the first thought that runs through my mind? Is it about something I wish I could change about the way I look?
  • Am I hiding how my body looks in baggy clothing or avoiding situations that may reveal how my body looks?
  • How much time a day am I spending thinking about how my body looks in a certain position or outfit?

If you are finding that the answer to these questions is not what you would like it to be, take a moment to remember that our bodies are tools that have many functions beyond how we look in a bathing suit.

Emma Reaney frequently works with her clients on challenging this mindset:

“Something I talk to my clients about is noticing what your body does for you. For example, maybe you don’t like the way your legs look but what do your legs do for you? They help you walk, run, dance, etc. It’s okay to not like every part of yourself- we all have our insecurities and it’s important to be kind to ourselves so we’re better able to extend that kindness to others. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, you shouldn’t say it to yourself.”

Remind yourself that all bodies are deserving of love, acceptance, and respect. Your worth is not defined by your body shape or size – your joy and happiness come from within.

Summer Stress: Is It Normal?

Summer is a season that holds many expectations. While it is usually viewed as a season for relaxation and fun, it can be overwhelming at times and comes with its own unique set of challenges.

Let’s Talk About Body Image

Written by : Haley Pauls, LPC-A, CRC

Summer Stress: Is It Normal?

Summer Stress: Is It Normal?

Summer is a season that holds many expectations. While it is usually viewed as a season for relaxation and fun, it can be overwhelming at times and comes with its own unique set of challenges. You might have noticed an increase in “I should” thoughts running through your head. I should travel. I should make this the best summer ever for my kids. I should spend more time with my friends. I should look better in these clothes. This pattern of thinking (playfully coined as ‘should-ing on yourself’ in the mental health field) can lead you to set unrealistically high expectations for yourself without even realizing you are doing so.

When these expectations are not met, it can cause feelings of anxiety, sadness, frustration, or even guilt. Experiencing these emotions during the summer is often isolating as this season is associated with carefree fun. If this is your experience, know that you are not alone in feeling this way, even if it appears so.

Take a moment and ask yourself where these thoughts come from. Who is telling you that you are not doing enough? Is there a figure in your life communicating this to you, or is this coming from your own mind? There is power in recognizing the way you speak to yourself. Imagine what it would be like if someone spoke to your dearest friend in the way you speak to yourself. If you are finding that your thoughts are overrun with ‘should-ing’, you likely have a loud and persistent inner critic. Noticing when your inner critic is being loud and harsh is a great step towards silencing that voice.

This summer, challenge yourself to find the balance in taking advantage of the sunny days and being kind to your mind.

Parenting Place: Modeling Coping Skills

What are coping skills?

Coping skills are tools that can be used in moments of strong or overwhelming emotions. They help to regulate feelings and bring people back to a baseline when experiencing high intensity stress. Coping skills vary greatly and depend on what works best for you. Some examples of coping skills include:

  • 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise: This skill uses all 5 senses by finding 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste
  • Box Breathing: Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, breath out through your mouth for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts, repeat
  • Walking outside
  • Taking a moment by yourself
Why is it important to model coping skills?

Children by nature are social learners. This means that children learn how to act and react to situations based on how the adults in their life do so. It is very important to be aware of what your children see when you are in stressful situations or are experiencing strong emotions. When children see you model healthy coping skills to handle a situation, it encourages them to do the same in age-appropriate ways. Over time, modeling healthy coping skills will help to develop a sense of emotional regulation and stability in your children lasting into adulthood.

How do I model coping skills for my child?

Modeling coping skills for you child begins with a knowledge of how to use them for yourself. It is important for kids to understand how and why you are engaging in coping activities. Opening the conversation around strong emotions and the need for tools to help deal with them strengthens children’s understanding of the connection between emotions and actions. It is also helpful to explain times when it would have been more helpful to use a coping skill instead of reacting in a negative way to an upsetting or stressful situation. When you see your kids using healthy coping mechanisms, make sure to praise them for doing so. This strongly reinforces their desire and ability to cope with strong emotions in healthy ways.

Let’s Talk About Body Image

Written by : Haley Pauls, LPC-A, CRC

Summer Stress: Is It Normal?

Summer is a season that holds many expectations. While it is usually viewed as a season for relaxation and fun, it can be overwhelming at times and comes with its own unique set of challenges.