Body image describes how you feel about and perceive your body and appearance. On some days, you may feel really confident, while on others you might feel slightly self-conscious or even have feelings of disgust.
It’s not uncommon to have negative thoughts and feelings about your body. In fact, a 2019 survey by Mental Health Foundation found that one in five adults in the UK felt ashamed of their own body. So it’s no surprise that many women in perimenopause or menopause experience poor or worsened body image too.
What with weight gain or other menopause symptoms, it’s enough to make anyone feel less comfortable in their own body. Unfortunately, this is often on top of an already poor body image many women have developed over their lifetime. Television, magazines, social media and celebrities all play a role in setting unrealistic beauty standards.
While working on your relationship with your body image takes time, here are a few steps you can take to start the worthwhile journey.
Unfollow or mute accounts that make you feel poorly about yourself or result in you comparing yourself to others. Also reflect on the content and people you’d like to see. Do you want to see more people with bodies like yours or do you not want to see people at all? How about following more accounts around hobbies or pets?
Whatever you wear, make sure you feel comfortable. There’s no point wearing something that makes you self-conscious. No-one wants to be constantly self-conscious in what they wear and wondering if they look OK. Opt for clothes that feel comfortable so that your mind isn’t preoccupied with worries about how you look.
It might be difficult to remember at times, but you’re more than your appearance. You're unique and that is something to be proud of. What do you like about yourself? Maybe it's your kindness, humour or your ability to remember the small details about someone. Write these tdown so you don’t forget how incredible you are outside of your appearance.
It can be difficult learning to be kinder to your body, but this is an important step to gaining a better body image. The words you use when thinking or talking about yourself matter. Reflect on the language you often use when looking in the mirror or talking about yourself to someone else. What’s the balance between positive and negative words?
There are lots of different tools available to help you to learn to love your body. Registered Associate Nutritionist Lucy Jones and Transformational Therapist and Coach Rachel Willett shared some of the tools they recommend in their recent Understanding Body Image Workshop. This workshop is available on www.harleystathome.com as part of our Supported Care membership for £19.00/month or 63p/day, alongside other nutrition, medical, exercise and emotional wellbeing classes and resources - all designed with you and menopause in mind.
Don’t beat yourself up for experiencing poor body image. With the changes that perimenopause and menopause bring, to influential factors, such as celebrities and social media, it’s difficult to feel positive all the time. Try out some of the above recommendations - simply cleaning up your social media feed can make a big difference in how you feel.
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