The Impact of Body Image on Mental Health

Body image is about so much more than the way your body looks. It’s about how you think and feel about your body, not just in a photo but also in your mind.

We all know how powerful the mind-body connection is. But what happens when it’s the other way around? What can you do when the way you feel about your body starts to impact your mental health? 

The Psychology of Self-Esteem

The way we think about how we look can significantly impact how we feel. In today’s image-obsessed society, escaping the pressures and expectations surrounding our physical appearance is hard. From social media influencers showcasing their polished lives to the airbrushed images on magazine covers, our perception of beauty is constantly being reshaped. As a result, body image has become a significant factor influencing our mental health.

One of the most significant ways body image impacts mental health is through its influence on self-esteem and self-worth. When someone views their body as falling short or not fitting into the ‘societal norm,’ they can feel inadequate and develop low self-esteem. This negative self-perception can chip away at self-worth and make maintaining a positive outlook on life challenging.

woman looking in mirror thinking about body image

Body Image Issues & Disordered Eating

Unfortunately, negative body image is also one of the top risk factors for developing an eating disorder. Body dissatisfaction can lead to extreme dieting and disordered eating.

Many people with body image issues and eating disorders share perfectionistic tendencies. They may set unrealistic standards for themselves in terms of appearance and engage in compulsive behaviours to achieve these standards, such as extreme dieting, over-exercising, or purging.

The constant comparison to unrealistic beauty standards can lead to anxiety and depression. People who are preoccupied with their appearance may experience anxiety about their physical flaws or fear of judgment from others. These anxious thoughts can spiral into depression, affecting overall mental well-being.

When you’re preoccupied with your looks or feel like your body isn’t good enough, you’re more likely to feel down about yourself, struggle with depression and anxiety, pass up social events, and distance yourself from others.

How To Redefine Your Self-Worth

Redefining your self-worth beyond physical appearance is a powerful journey of self-discovery and personal growth. It involves recognizing and appreciating the qualities that make you a unique and valuable individual. Here are practical steps to help you on this transformative and healing journey:

Find The Good Through Self-Reflection:

Start by taking some time to reflect on your beliefs and attitudes about yourself. Consider how much of your self-worth is tied to your physical appearance, and be honest about many negative thoughts you may have. Awareness is the first step towards change.

Practice Positive Self-Talk:

Replace self-criticism with positive self-talk. Create daily affirmations that focus on your strengths, qualities, and achievements. Repeating these affirmations can gradually reshape your self-perception.

Embrace Self-Compassion:

Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend. Understand that everyone has flaws and imperfections, and they don’t diminish your worth as a person.

Surround Yourself with Positivity:

Surround yourself with people who uplift and support you. Choose friends and relationships that value you for who you are as a whole person, not just your physical appearance.

Speak to a Professional:

There are so many wonderful therapists out in the world who are more than happy to help you reconnect with yourself. Professionals can offer new tools and shift your mindset from a negative to a more positive outlook.

woman meeting with therapist discussing body image

Get Support To Rediscover Your Beauty- Inside and Out!

Addressing body image issues and disordered eating can require a comprehensive approach to healing. This may involve a combination of therapy, medical supervision, nutritional counselling, and, ultimately, rebuilding your sense of self-compassion and self-acceptance.

Remember, redefining your self-worth is a process that takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and celebrate every small victory along the way. Your self-worth is not determined by your physical appearance but by the unique qualities and strengths that make you who you are. Embrace this journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, and you’ll find that a more profound and resilient sense of self-worth awaits you.

At Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic, we believe every client deserves a highly skilled, compassionate, and curious team of professionals to help them. Visit our website or contact us today to learn more about our services and programs.