“Body dysmorphia” (also known as “body dysmorphic disorder”) is a term being thrown around a bit these days.
What is it, exactly?
Body dysmorphia is a mental illness in which one can’t stop obsessing about their appearance and body image. The sufferer believes they have a flaw – minor, major, or even imagined – and that flaw causes them significant distress. They feel ashamed of their appearance to the point where it affects their ability to function in day-to-day life. In severe cases, sufferers will undergo cosmetic surgery or take up excessive exercise to “fix” their flaw.
Treating body dysmorphia and poor body image
In the past, I struggled with my own body image. I used to obsess about my weight and the way I looked. Imperfections were not acceptable. I’d look in the mirror 100 times a day and never be satisfied with my reflection. This had a domino effect on my life, and especially my stress levels. I’d cry about hating my body, and I was insecure about putting certain parts on display. Photos were the worst; I never liked any of them, and they triggered anger and sadness.
It sounds intense, but this is a very real issue for so many young women and men.
The question is: how do you heal body dysmorphia?
Firstly, enlist professional help in the form of a psychologist or cognitive behavioural therapist. You’ll need to retrain your mind and deal with underlying emotional issues, and they will be able to assist with this.
Here are my 5 tips I have used for years to overcome poor body image:
- Write down the parts of your body you feel grateful for. I like to keep this list in the notes app on my phone.
- Create a plan of action for when the shaming strikes. If you’re not feeling great about yourself, steer clear of mirrors and go into a forward fold right away. To do this, sit on the floor and lean over your body. Breathe deeply and give thanks for your health and the body parts you like. If you can’t think of any, thank your legs for carrying you every day or your heart for beating life into your body. Keep breathing deeply until the feeling passes.
- Let go of the desire to have a perfect body – it does not exist. Choose to live a wholesome, happy and balanced life instead.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. My advice is to delete those Instagram and Facebook accounts of ‘models’ who are airbrushed and photoshopped to the max. Go on a social media detox for a while if you can. And throw out the magazines that make you feel insecure, because guess what? The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine!
- I’d recommend you avoid all photos during this time, or until you feel more in control of your thoughts. If you see a photo you don’t like, just know that angles, lighting, and a whole host of things can affect this. Plus, you may have a dysmorphic view of how you actually look – what you’re seeing might not be the reality. That’s why it’s a good idea to deal with poor body image holistically, with the help of a professional.
My online program and book contain pages and pages of tips to help you overcome this. I am here holding your hand through it.
My online program will be released on the 12th of Jan – diarise it!
Don’t forget to take your journey with me so I can see and feature you on our pages #TheProgrambyJS