We live our lives so differently than we did thirty years ago. At that time, media comprised newspapers, magazines, movies, and television. Although body image issues were a concern at the time, the appearance of social media in the last two decades has deepened negative perceptions regarding society’s beauty ideals and had negative effects on mental health.

Wound around each other tightly are social media and body image issues. How many influencers do you follow on social media? How often do you feel sad or depressed after scrolling through your newsfeed? Do you compare your body and appearance to the men and women you see on television, in movies, in magazines, and on social media?

We often forget that the images portrayed in the media, especially those on social media platforms, are highly filtered and edited. Instead, we strive to work towards looking like someone else’s ideal. This is a fruitless endeavor as we were all created uniquely with our quirks. Aiming to appeal to society will only leave you drained, anxious, and depressed.

Ways to keep your mental health strong.

You do not have to become a victim of social media and body image issues, allowing them to negatively impact your mental health. You can learn how to tune out negative influences, reframe unappealing thoughts, and change your feelings about yourself. These new thought patterns take time and practice, and if they are deeply ingrained in your mind, you may want to seek professional help from a counselor.

Each of the following tips will get you started on the road to improving your mental health.

See through society’s influence

The first step in recognizing today’s beauty standards is researching beauty ideals throughout history. If you notice, throughout time and cultures, beauty ideals change. For example, one moment, it may be fashionable to be large with a healthy glow to show how prosperous you are (access to an abundance of food). The next moment, society may deem the beauty standard overly thin.

The problem with trying to meet these standards is that they are impossible. Beauty standards are a moving target and objective. When you view images on social media, consider what the model or influencer looks like. Are the photos edited?

More than likely, the person is wearing clothing or standing at an angle to hide any flaws. In addition, lighting makes a huge difference in one’s appearance. Bust through these influences and tell yourself the truth: no one is perfect, everyone has flaws, which makes us unique.

Become unbothered by social media ideals

Now that you understand the tricks people use to make themselves appear flawless, become unbothered by social media by focusing on people in real life. As you go about your day, notice the people around you. No one is alike. No one is built exactly like the next person. This doesn’t make anyone less beautiful than the next. Instead, it points to what makes them special.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is objective, so who are we to say that someone God has made is not beautiful? God made them in His likeness and image and gave them something to set them apart. He did the same for you. Instead of denying this “flaw,” perhaps learn to embrace it.

Embrace your uniqueness

Accepting and embracing something that sets us apart from others can be challenging. We all want to fit in and be accepted by others. Some of us fear rejection to the point that we develop social anxiety and panic attacks. But what if you stated out loud what makes you different in an affirmation? Could your words be so powerful as to change your thoughts and emotions about social media and body image?

A study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience found that self-affirmations held the power to improve our self-awareness and defeat negative emotions. We view ourselves through a wider lens when we use affirmations based on our core values.

For example, someone with body image issues can try stating, “God created me to be powerful and strong. I care for my body to keep it healthy, but I am not afraid of people’s opinions. I am unique.” Write out a few affirmations you can practice daily.

Analyze your thoughts

Before you write your affirmations, spend a day analyzing your thoughts and emotions. What thoughts skim through your mind regarding your body or appearance? Are they positive or negative? How do these thoughts leave you feeling?

Catching your thoughts and reframing them changes your mindset. Learning to change your mindset is a skill that anyone can do. You may need a counselor to help walk you through any complicated thoughts and emotions, but once you learn how to flip the script of that inner voice, you will find that your confidence grows.

Cut back on social media

Social media is a great way to stay connected to family and friends, learn about developing news stories, and meet new people by joining groups based on your interests. But if social media is causing you mental and emotional anguish, consider cutting back on the platforms.

More than four billion people globally use social media; the average person holds accounts on six different platforms. No wonder more people experience anxiety and body image issues while engaging on social media. It has now become acceptable to spend a large portion of time on these sites.

Consider social media abstinence and record your results in a journal. How did you feel after a one-week sabbatical? Can you go one month without checking the platform? Take note of how you feel about your body confidence after taking a short break.

List activities you enjoy

To reach a particular size or to look a certain way, we often adopt the activities and behaviors of other people. For example, if you follow an influencer who states that they work out seven days a week and follow the ketogenic diet, you might try to live this lifestyle to achieve those results.

But is that the best thing for you and your body? Are you miserable after a few days of following someone else’s routine? Instead, create a workout regimen, daily nutritional diet, and beauty routine. Do what seems to work for your body. You are more likely to stick with it for the long term.

Recruit a friend with a positive body image

We become like the people we have in our lives. We cannot ignore the influence of the people closest to us, so we must surround ourselves with people who embrace a positive body image. You want friends who do not compare, mock, or judge the appearance of others. Instead, these friends focus on their health and accept and embrace where they are now on this journey.

Do you have at least one body-positive friend? If not, consider making friends with someone in a club or organization that promotes health. For example, you may find organizations at your local community center or online. Or create a group centered around body acceptance and health and invite others from your church or the community to join you.

Seek counseling for negative thoughts and emotions

Sometimes you cannot seem to turn intrusive thoughts around when it comes to social media and body image. There may be deeper reasons as to why. Perhaps you had a rough childhood where someone belittled or mocked you. Maybe you experienced verbal or physical abuse from a partner or friend. The words from other people can become our inner voice.

If that is your situation, don’t hesitate to seek counseling. A counselor can help you pinpoint the stories you tell yourself and reframe them into the truth. Your counselor will also provide a support system, so you always have someone by your side as you learn to embrace a positive body image.

Connect with a Christian counselor

If social media and body image issues are taking a toll on your mental health, contact our office today to schedule a session with a Christian counselor. Your counselor combines faith-based principles with psychological techniques to treat mental health conditions effectively. Contact us today for your assessment.

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