How to Boost Body Confidence This Summer
Tuesday, July 11 2017 Emily Roberts MA, LPC
Body confidence declines dramatically during the summer. The more skin you see, the more insecure you feel. This doesn't just affect females, or people who have struggled with eating disorders. Everyone is susceptible to lower body confidence, which can interfere with building self-esteem and feeling confident in other areas of your life.
Everywhere you look there are unrealistic images being shoved in your face that interfere with building body confidence. You've got airbrushed models in advertisements, ads for diets and weight loss products popping up on your social media feed, and since it's warm outside, more people are in tiny shorts and tank tops. We often dismiss this as "normal" but these images, thoughts, and judgments stick with us. Even some of the strongest people struggle with body confidence during the summertime.
Why Body Confidence Declines in the Summer
Swimsuits can make even the healthiest humans feel insecure. No matter who you are, you've likely been in a swimsuit and compared yourself with a seemingly flawless human at the pool or the beach. The adolescent in you remembers the awkwardness of trying to fit into a bikini or not having a surfer body like some of your peers. Plus, without much to hide behind, we all feel more vulnerable in a swimsuit. When you honor the experiences, thoughts, and fears that you have about your body image you become instantly empowered. You can check the facts and validate your past experience, and reframe your thoughts.
Remember That Advertisements Lie to Us
No matter where you get your news or spend your free time you are bombarded with headlines that make you question yourself like, "Are you Beach Body Ready?"
It can be a challenge to remember that advertisements, online, on TV and in print rely on consumers (me and you) to feel insecure. Why? This is how they make money; we pay attention and buy products that we think will make us feel better about ourselves. So keep in mind that these headlines and buzzwords like “summer diet” or “bikini-ready abs” are used to make us feel insecure with the hopes that we will buy what they are selling
Remember to Pay Attention to Your Usual Routine
The lack of structure in the summer months can lead to unhealthy routines like skipping meals or altering your normal sleep habits. This leads to less emotional regulation, making it hard to manage intrusive or insecure thoughts. In the mental health field, we have found that the summer months often worsen mental health, and specifically eating disorder, symptoms. Changes in the summer schedule can lead to an increase in anxiety, depression and negative self-talk.
How to Boost Body Confidence
- Stop focusing on flaws. Many people believe that if they pay attention to the parts of their body that they don't like then they will be more motivated to fix them -- this is wrong. Motivation comes from compassion and positive self-talk, not by bullying your body (How to Feel Confident in Your Swimsuit). Critical and negative thoughts stress and depress you, making your motivation to change harder. So the more positive you are with your body, the better you will feel emotionally and physically.
- Stop triggering yourself. Just because you get enjoyment from watching your favorite reality star or find a series entertaining doesn't mean it's healthy for you. The same goes for social media handles, friends and family members: you know the drill, it feels good, then it triggers all the insecure thoughts for hours and even days after. Is this trigger really worth it? Anything that brings you more insecurity isn't worth it.
- Stop the fat-talk. When friends complain about their body image it impacts you, too. You either feel compelled to tell them they are wrong and point out a "flaw" in your body or feel worse about yourself. Change the subject or ask your body bashing friend about something positive in his or her life. It will change the flow of the conversation and allow you to feel better about yourself too.
- Stop discounting the positive. If you focus on what's "wrong" with your body you will feel more insecure about everything in your life. Start pointing out the body parts that you use and need every day. Become grateful for those strong legs for helping you walk to work or your eyes for allowing you to read this. The more you focus on what your body does for you, the less likely you will be to get stuck in insecure thoughts.
Body confidence is important for everyone. The more positive you are with yourself the stronger your self-esteem will become. Practice these ideas and you are on your way to feeling more confident no matter what time of year it is.