Monday, April 30, 2012

5 Tips for Getting Out of a Body Image Rut

Originally posted June 20, 2011

I'm excited to introduce another guest today. The following was written by Margarita Tartakovsky, MS who is the associate editor of Psych Central. She writes her own body image blog for Psych Central called Weightless as well. Be sure to check her out. She is fantastic, and I'm so excited to have her here on LITM today.
Regardless of how you feel about your body, everyone has a bad day. A day when we feel like the ugliest person on the planet. A day when we’d rather wear sweats. A day we’d rather spend underneath the comforting shelter of our favorite covers.
It’s natural to feel blue about your body sometimes. But fortunately, there are many things you can do to rise above a rut. Here are five ideas.
1. See the bigger picture.
Remember that this is just one bad day or several of many good ones. Instead of letting yucky feelings overwhelm you, focus on the bigger picture. Body image has its ups and downs. A positive body image is a daily process. Just remind yourself that even though right now you don’t love your body, you refuse to get caught up in a harmful cycle of nit-picking and negative thoughts.
2. Consider what’s really brewing.
Ask yourself what’s really underneath your rut. Are you angry over a fight with a friend that you’re taking out on your body? Are your hormones running amok? (A good possibility!) Do you just feel bloated? Are you stressed out? Is something in particular bothering you?
Years ago, whenever I saw a huge monster staring back at me, it had nothing to do with my appearance, of course. It was that I was unhappy with my life. I was anxious, tense and sad—all reactions that contributed to my feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. And instead of asking myself the important questions, I kept things on the surface, thinking that getting thin was the answer. (It wasn’t.)
Sometimes a rut might be telling us something. That something isn’t to lose weight or change our appearance. It’s to take a hard look at what’s going on and dig deeper.
3. Do an activity that makes you happy.
When we’re in the midst of a body image rut, the last thing we want to do is take action. It’s much easier to wallow in our misery and bad feelings. But doing something that focuses away from our negative thoughts is immensely helpful.
In fact, make a list right now of the things that you love to do. Keep it handy, either in your purse or on your desk (or on your forehead, which is where I feel like I need it!). The next time you experience a rut, take it out and start going down the list. Fun and fulfilling activities boost your mood, put life into perspective and alleviate stress—all of which can improve your body image.
Your list may include anything from taking a walk to journaling to drawing to watching a funny movie to talking to a friend. Try to include a good mix of quick activities and longer ones that you’re passionate about or just make you smile.
4. Get out.
When a rut sets in and we think we look terrible, the last thing we also want to do is be with people and, let’s be honest, see the sunlight. (It’s as if the covers are calling us!) But getting out of the house, smelling the fresh air and seeing all the beauty around you has a way of making you feel better.
See if you can meet up with a friend for lunch or for the whole day. Choose someone who’s not only positive but also doesn’t engage in fat talk. The worst thing to do when you’re in a body image rut is to commiserate over each other’s supposed body flaws.
5. Be grateful.
Counting our blessings also boosts mood and happiness—and it’s a huge help for lifting a sad body image. When you’re feeling down about your body, make a quick list of all the things you’re grateful for. Also, include the many things your incredible body helps you do!
For instance, I’m grateful for:
My amazing family,
Being able to practice Pilates,
Having the endurance to do tough workouts and bike many miles,
Being able to play with my 16-year-old cat,
Books, books and books,
Watermelon, berries, smoothies, chocolate, ice cream, fettuccine Alfredo, seafood and potatoes,
A job that’s fulfilling and helps me grow constantly.
How do you overcome a body image rut? What makes you feel better? What tips do you have? Please share!
P.S., Melanee, thanks so much for the opportunity to guest post! It’s an honor.  And happy blogaversary!!!