Summertime is upon us, which means warm weather and people hanging out outside. It also means people will be wearing more revealing clothing just to stay cool. For people who do not like their body image, this can be a stressful time; however, for people who have eating disorders, this can be the worst time of the year. The symptoms of an eating disorder can worsen because of the pressures he/she puts on himself/herself to have the perfect swimsuit body. Teenagers are especially prone to pressure themselves to look like the models on the magazine covers we see at the grocery store. Here are some tips to help overcome the anxiety and stress of summertime body image worries.
- Wear clothing that is comfortable. I have heard complaints from parents of adolescent girls that the clothing available for their daughters is too skimpy and revealing. With the restricted choices of female teenagers and women have, finding comfortable clothing can be difficult. Wearing clothing that is too restrictive can only intensify one’s already preoccupation about how he/she looks when in public.
- Be kind to yourself. We are our own worst critics. When we worry about what others might see as imperfections are usually based on our own negative judgments of ourselves. Do not try to be perfect. There is a saying, “The more perfect we try to become, the more imperfect we are.” If we focus on becoming perfect, we need to identify the imperfections to correct. If we do this, we will never be “perfect.”
- Do not go on a crash diet. There are numerous articles in periodicals that claim if you follow this certain diet, then you will be ready for summer in a short period of time. These are false claims and may not be healthy for you in the long run. If you would like to feel healthier, begin a lifestyle change of healthy eating habits and activities. This may not get the results in a short period of time, but this will be a more stable way to make long-lasting and sustainable changes.
- Take the focus off yourself. When you are at the swimming pool or at the lake, focus on the activity you are engaging in. Pay attention to the feelings of enjoyment you are experiencing being with people outside and having fun. When we pay attention to the negative self-critic in our head, we are miserable. When you notice you are listening to this negative self-critic, focus on your surroundings such as the beautiful scenery of the lake, the warmth of the sun on your skin, the laughter of friends, etc.
I hope these four simple, but challenging, guidelines can help you enjoy the whole person you are during these summer months.