Thursday, 31 May 2012

Six Steps to Feeling Great About Yourself This Summer

Summer is always one of the most difficult times of year for people struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. Rather than thinking about spending time outdoors and relaxing with family and friends, the only thoughts are about avoiding swimsuits and figuring what to wear and what will make you feel comfortable. 

Try these tips to change that and feel great about yourself.

1.    Surround yourself with supportive and positive people. Everything always seems worse when you are around people who are critical or unsupportive. Add that to spending time with someone who always seems to have it together and never lets their guard down, and you have a recipe for negative self-image.

2.    Go shopping with your best mate Shopping for a swimsuit or shorts can be difficult for even the most confident people. Make a day of shopping with your best mate a positive occasion.  She’ll support you and point out styles that will be a good fit for your body type. And if she’s like my best mate will be honest with you too.  If stores are overwhelming for you, you could also consider on line shopping.  Then you can try them on in the privacy of your home and return what doesn't work.

3.    Wear clothes you like. Prior to getting dressed or buying new clothes ask yourself "What would I wear today if I had no concerns about my body?" If that is shorts, then wear shorts. If the answer is a dress, then wear a dress. If you really like that bikini, then go for it! Don't let negative self-talk and criticisms dictate what you should or shouldn't wear. Your clothing choices should be determined by your own personality, and what you like to wear.

4.    Consider ditching the camera. It is wonderful to have photographs to remember fun occasions with. However, if you have an eating disorder or severe body-image issues an ever-present camera can also serve to increase anxiety to the point that the occasion isn't fun anymore. If this is true for you, consider leaving your camera at home and/or asking the people around you to refrain from taking photographs. This will allow you to focus on interacting with the people around you and not worry about what you'll look like in the pictures.

5.    Get active. Engage in summer activities that you enjoy and that don't trigger your eating disorder. This can be any variety of things; swimming, gardening, walking, get active with the kids, dancing, aerobics, gym, dance or workout DVD, Wii fit etc.  Find something you like to do, allow yourself to enjoy feeling your body move and remind yourself to be thankful that you body is able to engage in these activities.  Pretty quickly you will increase your endorphins (our natural pain suppressors) and coping mechanisms and start to feel so much better about yourself.

6.    Sit down and make a list of your assets - Get a pen and paper, sit down, and list your assets. Not only your physical assets, but everything you know about yourself that makes you special and unique. You can also include your talents, your achievements and even your goals and dreams. Then analyze which ones you want to improve on or develop and make an effort to do it!

7.    Do something nice for someone else.  Volunteer for a day, or do something for charity. Do something helpful for an elderly neighbour, they won’t judge you, quite the opposite and will enjoy your company, and you’ll feel so good about yourself and gain some new friends along the way.

8.    Take care of yourself. Self care can go a long way in helping you feel more rested, relaxed and confident. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Make sure you are getting enough to eat and are eating a variety of foods. Make sure you are active.  Engage in relationships with people who build up your confidence and self esteem.  Ditch the ones that bring you down.  These things may seem simple on the surface, but many people forget about them in their daily lives.  
     Feel good about yourself no matter what life brings, remember at the end of the day there’s usually someone worse off than you!

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