Hands of different skin tones and sizes holding up heart shapes.

As we continue to adjust to the pandemic, uncertainty and stress may persist in many of our lives. Continuous unexpected changes can affect our relationship with our food, our bodies and the way we view ourselves. Remember that it’s normal for our eating habits and body weight to change in response to stress. However, it can be helpful to practice positive body image. The more you practice, the better you may feel about who you are and the body you naturally have. Here are 5 ways to get started:

Post positive affirmations 

If you find yourself critiquing your body in front of the mirror, posting positive affirmations may help. Grab a notepad and write down positive aspects of yourself that aren’t related to your appearance or weight. Then, put them on or around your mirror. As you start to recognize more positive things about yourself, add them to your positive affirmations. Practice saying them out loud each day. Here are some examples you can try:

  • I am happy to be me.
  • My appearance does not define my value. 
  • I am worthy.
  • I will honor and respect my body through these changes. 
  • I am smart, strong, capable, etc. 

Look at yourself as a whole person

Remind yourself that beauty isn’t skin deep. When you see yourself in the mirror or think about who you are, choose not to focus on your body alone. Instead, try to view yourself the way you want others to see you—as a whole person. Think about who you are beyond your appearance. For instance, think about the ways in which you are a good friend, a supportive family member or a kind person. Take some time to think through all of the things that make you, you. Write them down in a journal or a note on your phone, so you can look back on them whenever you are feeling down. 

Surround yourself with positive people

Feeling good about yourself and your body is easier when the people around you are supportive and recognize the importance of positive self image. Make time for friends and family who make you feel supported and good about yourself, especially those who are also practicing positive body image. Focus on the relationships where you feel comfortable showing up as you are, rather than relationships that promote comparing yourself to others.

If you are looking to make meaningful connections in a positive space, check out Buffs for Body Positivity. Through open and meaningful discussions, self-care programs and fitness classes, Buffs for Body Positivity advocates for a campus environment where all bodies are recognized and celebrated. You can also connect with them on Instagram.

Shine a light on social media

Who do you see on social media? Whether you follow close friends and family or celebrities and meme accounts, it’s important to know who you’re following and why. Take a look at the accounts you follow and ask yourself:

  • Am I seeing posts that make me feel unhappy or put me in a bad mood?
  • Does this account make me feel like I need to be someone I’m not?
  • Am I comparing my life, body or success with others?

Pay attention to how the images, videos, slogans and attitudes you see on social media are impacting how you feel about yourself and your body. If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to hide them from your feed or hit unfollow. Removing this type of content from your view can help you feel a sense of relief and will free up space for accounts that make you feel good.

Refocus your energy

Negative self image can take up a lot of our thoughts and energy. It can also leave us feeling exhausted. Try redirecting the time and energy that you might spend thinking about food, calories or your appearance to do something nice for others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and make a positive change in our world. If you’re passionate about a specific cause, look for opportunities to get involved or volunteer.

Campus resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with negative body image, there are resources on campus that can help. Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) provides drop-in, individual and group counseling services online through telehealth. They also offer online workshops to address common concerns that students are experiencing. Additionally, they provide free consultations online as part of e-Let’s Talk. Through this program, students can meet briefly with a counselor to get insight, formulate solutions and learn about resources. Call 303-492-2277 to get connected with CAPS services.

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