Body Image & Healthy Ways to Cope from "The Pocket Therapist"
Every Monday features a tip, exercise, inspiring quote or other tidbit to help boost your body image. For many of us, Mondays are tough. We may feel anxious and stressed out, anticipating an arduous week, especially if we didn’t get much rest and relaxation during the weekend. These kinds of feelings don’t create the best environment for improving one’s body image. In fact, you might be harder on yourself and easily frustrated. You might even feel like you’re walking on egg shells – with yourself! With these posts, I hope you’ll have a healthier and happier body image day, that’ll last throughout the week.
Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be happy to feature it. It can be anything you do that’s healthy and helps boost your body image. I’d love to hear from you!
Developing a more positive body image doesn’t just mean liking how you look. I think it goes deeper than that. It means accepting and liking your whole self, and taking good care of yourself — through the every day and through the tough times.
Last Friday, eating disorder expert Lyndsay Elliott, Ph.D, talked all about healthy coping. Today, I want to continue with that theme. When we don’t have healthy ways of dealing with our emotions or experiences, whatever body image we have going for us only plummets.
Something negative happens, and we turn inward. For me, instead of saying I was upset, I used to say I’m fat or I’m not good enough. Instead of processing my emotions, I’d internalize them and start nit-picking about a new flaw. My “negative voice” would have a field day with those flaws.
Therese Borchard of Beyond Blue – one of my daily must-read blogs – recently published the book The Pocket Therapist (she generously sent me a copy). It contains 144 tools and techniques to help readers deal with those emotions and experiences — and really just everyday life — in healthy ways. Below, I wanted to share with you three of my favorites:
1. Carry a blankie. Therese writes, “I need reminders — ideally, 234 of them — to refresh me on goals, promises, and prayers I pledged or recited in the morning with my coffee.” She carries with her a medal of St. Therese. “It reminds me that the most important things are sometimes invisible to the eye: like faith, hope, and love. So when I doubt all the goodness in the world — and accuse God of a bad creation job — all I have to do is close my eyes and squeeze the medal.”
Blogger love2eatinpa, who writes the great blog Confessions of a Recovering Compulsive Eater, has a binge-free bracelet, which represents the amount of time that she hasn’t binged. It marks the milestones in her recovery. I wear my dad’s chain and a ring my parents created out of my grandma’s old wedding band and gold necklace. They symbolize love and family, and they’re there always.
A blankie is an instant coping tool. If you’re anxious, upset, angry or just annoyed, you can look at it, touch it, and put things into perspective. You might choose as your blankie a family photo, an uplifting quote, your favorite poem or a postcard of the place you’ve always dreamed of going.
2. Keep a success log. When Therese’s debilitating depression made it hard for her to get out of bed, her therapist suggested she write down all her daily accomplishments. Some of the things on her list: “walked the dogs for 15 minutes,” “watched kids for an hour,” “filled out a medical claim for Satan, I mean, our health care insurance provider” (her book is really funny, too). This log told Therese’s “body-mind-soul engine” that she was moving in the right direction, toward health, not helplessness.
Today, she keeps a boundaries notebook. In it, she notes when she’s creating better boundaries.
Maybe you might keep a self-image notebook where you write down when you’re taking good care of yourself, when you accepted a compliment, when you listened to your gut, when you looked in the mirror and smiled.
3. Audit yourself. Here’s something interesting: We can’t be afraid and appreciative at the same time. That’s a good thing. Therese quotes Dan Baker, author of What Happy People Know, who says “It is a fact of neurology that the brain cannot be in a state of appreciation and a state of fear at the same time. The two states may alternate, but are mutually exclusive.”
Baker suggests doing an “Appreciation Audit” throughout your day. Carve out three to five minutes three times a day to think about what you appreciate. You might thank your body for what it did for you that day, be grateful for being able to take a nice walk, think about what made you feel beautiful. You might also appreciate talking to a good friend on the phone, spending time with your family or getting a few minutes to yourself to focus on self-care.
Therese also writes that you can do a Top Five list, like Top Five Favorite People or Top Five Vacation Memories.
And, finally, regardless of what’s going on in your life, remember: “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.'” Therese includes this quote from Mary Anne Radmacher in her tip to keep getting up.
How do you keep getting up? What are some of your favorite things to do or think about when you’re having a rough time? What is your blankie?
Tartakovsky, M. (2010). Body Image & Healthy Ways to Cope from "The Pocket Therapist". Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2010/04/body-image-healthy-ways-to-cope-from-the-pocket-therapist/