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 [email protected], 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!
Journaling has a variety of benefits. In 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, clinical psychologist Susan Albers, Psy.D, talks about how journaling can help with emotional eating. She includes this quote from a woman named Olivia.
I’m clueless when it comes to my emotions. Journaling helps me understand my true motives for stress eating. When I write about my struggles, I often discover that I overeat because I am anxious about something. Eating calms my nerves. As I write, I don’t judge myself. I just try to understand why I fell, hook, line, and sinker for emotional eating again. I find clues for how I can be better prepared next time.
I think journaling can be just as powerful for improving body image and self-image overall. (Of course, feel free to use journaling as a way to cope with emotional eating. It’s part of the body-bashing cycle, too.)
It can give us clues as to why we bash our bodies and how we can learn to respect and love ourselves as a whole. Albers writes, “When you clearly spell out what your challenges were in the past, you can predict how you’ll respond in the future, and you can make plans to deal with these challenges in a more productive way the next time.”
Maybe your journal will reveal that you lash out at yourself when you’re really angry with someone else. Or that picking on your body parts is a way to hide your dissatisfaction with other parts of your life. Maybe you start body bashing whenever you’re anxious about a project at work. Or when you can’t cope with your emotions. Maybe your body hatred happens after you eat emotionally or let yourself enjoy eating.
Maybe you base most of your self-worth on your looks. And you only appreciate yourself when your appearance is acceptable. Maybe your self-love is very much conditional.
With your journal, you’ll be able to pick up on these patterns, release bottled-up emotions and figure out where your negative body image comes from. You can use all these insights to constructively help you boost your body image.
Albers has various tips for journaling. They are:
- Make writing in your journal part of your day. Try writing at the same time each day, so it becomes a habit.
- If you’d rather not journal, jot down some notes in your day planner.
- Try to write without editing yourself.
- For each entry, write about the past, present and future. Albers suggests this format:
In the past, I felt about this issue… In the moment, I feel about this issue… And in the future, what would I like to do or say about this issue is…
- If you’re on the computer a lot, try a free journal service.
- If you can’t think of what to write, try a writing prompt. Albers provides these writing prompts to get started.
The worst thing about this situation is…
Three adjectives that best describe how I feel in this moment are…
The reason I feel this emotion is…
- Look on the bright side, which Albers says not only helps get you out of a bad mood but also interrupts stress-induced eating. You can choose from these statements:
A positive moment in your life
A moment when you felt really calm
A time when you were really adventurous
- Use your positive moments as solutions. Albers suggests asking yourself the following:
What would it take to recreate such good feelings? How can I access even a bit of this emotion in the future?
More specifically, how can those good feelings help you cope with emotional eating [or improve your body image] at a later date?
Do you journal? What do you write about? Have you found that strong emotions contribute to your body bashing?
Today’s favorite post. “Down with Shame” by the always eloquent Sally McGraw of Already Pretty. BTW, stay tuned for my interview with Sally tomorrow!