Are you ready to take back control of how you feel about your body?
I know first hand that society puts a lot of emphasis on physical appearance, so it’s no surprise that so many women, in fact 80% of women are unhappy with how they look. If you feel you’re part of that 80% then I’m glad you’re here and reading this.
Whether your triggers are internal or external, managing them is crucial for maintaining a healthy body image and positive relationship with yourself.
So if you’re ready, let’s get into how to start managing your negative body image triggers, so that you can go through your day feeling good about and talking kindly to yourself.
Identifying your Body Image triggers
To be able to manage your negative body image tiggers, you need to first know what they are. Identifying your body image triggers is the first step and a very important one.
There is rarely, if ever, just one trigger that is solely responsible for you feeling negative towards yourself, most of the time it’s a combination of many things both internal and external and created by your past and your present.
These might include:
- Media including social media, magazines and adverts
- Comparing yourself to others
- A Negative Environment where body shaming, dieting and poor role modelling are the norm
- Past experiences and trauma
- Social pressure and unrealistic beauty standard and expectations
- Negative Self Talk
- Attending Social Events
Can you see how any or maybe all of these are triggering how you feel about yourself?
Once you know your Body Image triggers, we can get into how to manage them.
Can you really manage ALL these triggers?
In short, you can’t control all of these triggers but you can manage them all to differing degrees.
When we experience situations, as humans we handle them either proactively or reactively:
- Proactively – Taking action and preemptive measures to address or prevent potential issues or challenges before they occur or escalate. This involves planning, preparing and anticipating issues, rather than waiting for them to arise, so that you can best prepare for them.
In the context of Body Image, reacting proactively would involve identifying situations, environments or triggers that are likely to lead you to feel negatively towards yourself. Then instead of waiting for these to impact you, you take proactive steps to manage or minimise their impact. For example, setting clear and healthy boundaries, creating a positive support network, curating a positive social media feed and/or practising self-care and self-compassion.
- Reactively – Responding to a trigger, issue or challenge after it’s happened or is happening. Here you take action in a response to the trigger rather than proactively addressing it beforehand.
In the context of Body Image, being reactive would involve addressing and managing your thoughts, feelings and situations in the moment using self-reflection, self-soothing or seeking the support of others.
Although we are all reactive at times, reactive responses are generally more about dealing with the immediate impact of the trigger rather than preventing or mitigating its impact and can sometimes be less helpful.
In reality a combination of proactive and reactive approaches can be beneficial and effectively in managing negative Body Image triggers. Ideally you’re able to anticipate and minimise your triggers where possible, but also be able to react in a healthy and helpful way to unexpected triggers.
How to get started managing your Body Image Triggers
So with that in mind, let’s talk about what you can actually do to help you manage your negative body image triggers. There a few things you can do, but here are 4 that I feel are vital:
1. Know ALL of your Negative Body Image Triggers
Starting to build your self-awareness and being able to recognise what triggers your negative thoughts and emotions about your body is the first step in managing body image triggers.
I know that it’s tempting to get straight into action and start working on managing them, but don’t skip this part. Otherwise further down the line, you’ll wonder why what you’re doing ‘isn’t working’ and experience self sabotage over and over again. I know, I’ve been there!
So take some time, reflect on the people, situations and environments that tend to evoke self-criticism or negative thoughts about yourself.
These questions might help you get started:
- Are there certain people in your life who make you feel self-conscious about your body or appearance?
- How does social media impact your body image? Are there particular accounts or types of content that tend to evoke comparison or feelings of inadequacy?
- Are there specific times or circumstances when you find yourself engaging in self-scrutiny or negative self-talk? For example, is it when you’re trying on clothes, looking in the mirror, or seeing yourself in photographs? What thoughts or beliefs arise during these moments?
- Do certain environments, such as gyms, shopping malls, or specific social circles, contribute to feelings of inadequacy or body dissatisfaction?
- Are there particular activities or hobbies that make you more prone to negative self-talk or body comparison?
- Are there past experiences or traumas that have significantly influenced your body image and self-esteem?
2. Make Self-Care a Priority and a Daily Activity
Do you find that making time for yourself is hard? Life is so busy that it’s easy for self-care to slip down your ‘to do list’, to the point that it doesn’t happen.
A common issue is that we use self-care as a reactive coping strategy, therefore only do it when we’re already feeling negative or low. When in reality it’s best to do self-care proactively, so that you can help reduce the amount of time you feel that way. Regular self-care also helps you to manage those bad body image days in a more healthy and helpful way.
Self-care is important and necessary, and something that you need to make time for daily.
What that looks like depends on you, self-care is an individual thing. What relaxes me and makes me feel good, might not be the same for you.
However, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Get adequate Sleep
- Create and repeat positive affirmations
- Talk kindly to yourself and be self-compassionate when facing difficult situations, thoughts or emotions
- Nourish and take care of your body, focusing on health rather than weight
- Move your body in ways you enjoy, this could be running, yoga, dancing or housework
- Engage in Mindful activities such as meditation, journaling or gratitude
- Spend time with people who make you feel good
- Make time for a sport, hobby or activity you enjoy
The main factor to consider when deciding what self-care is right for you is to know how you’re feeling and how you want to feel and what you need. From there you can brainstorm different ideas of what will help you move towards those feelings and meet those needs.
3. Set and Uphold Healthy Boundaries with yourself and others
Setting and upholding healthy boundaries with yourself and others is a crucial aspect of managing negative body image triggers. Boundaries act as protective shields, safeguarding your mental and emotional well-being. By establishing clear limits and guidelines, you can create a supportive environment that reduces the impact of triggers and cultivates a positive body image.
Healthy boundaries allow you to protect your mental well-being by setting limits on conversations, media consumption, or environments that tend to trigger negative thoughts and emotions about your body. They also help reduce comparison and self-criticism by redirecting your focus towards self-acceptance and self-care.
By asserting your needs and preferences, you can communicate your boundaries regarding body-related discussions, compliments, or comments, promoting self-respect and kindness.
So take time today and ask yourself what boundaries would help you to manage your negative body image triggers or create a more positive environment?
4. Manage your Social Media Feed
Be mindful of the media you consume and how it affects your body image. Unattainable beauty standards perpetuated by mainstream media can trigger negative thoughts and comparisons.
In today’s world we spend a lot of time, everyday on social media, so knowing how you can protect yourself, and manage your social media feed is important.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Consider diversifying your media intake by following body-positive influencers, activists, or content creators who celebrate diverse bodies.
- Limit exposure to content that reinforces unrealistic ideals
- Consider unfollowing or muting accounts that negatively impact your body image.
- Limit the time you spend on social media and perhaps consider a social media detox.
It takes time, but you’re worth it
Managing body image triggers is an ongoing process that requires patience, self-compassion, and a commitment to personal growth.
By understanding the nature of your triggers and taking the necessary steps to manage them, you will completely transform how you feel about yourself and your body.
If you feel that doing it alone is too hard or you simply want to be around other ladies on the same journey and get ongoing support then come and join the Be You Membership where we address and work through all issues surrounding negative body image and low self esteem.But today I want to remind you that your worth goes far beyond your appearance, and embracing your uniqueness is the key to a positive body image and body acceptance.
Hey I’m Natalie, Supporting women like you on their road to self-acceptance and building their self-esteem is – as cliche as it sounds – my calling.