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  • Writer's pictureShauna Wallace

Body Image Basics: Healthy and Positive Coping Skills for Body Dysmorphia

Body image is a complex and multifaceted concept that affects everyone differently. For some, it can be a source of confidence and pride, while for others, it can be a significant source of distress. Body dysmorphia, or Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), is a mental health condition where individuals become excessively concerned with perceived flaws in their appearance. This blog post aims to provide an understanding of body image basics and offer healthy and positive coping skills for those struggling with body dysmorphia. If you or someone you know is dealing with these issues, body image counselling can be an invaluable resource.


woman measuring her waist size

Understanding Body Image


What is Body Image?


Body image refers to how we perceive our own bodies and how we think others perceive us. It encompasses:


  • Perceptual: How you see your body.

  • Affective: How you feel about your body.

  • Cognitive: What you think about your body.

  • Behavioural: Actions you take as a result of your perceptions.


The Impact of Negative Body Image


Negative body image can lead to various mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. It can affect one's self-esteem and overall quality of life.


What is Body Dysmorphia?

woman looking in the mirror

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is characterized by an obsessive focus on one or more perceived defects or flaws in physical appearance, which are often unnoticeable to others. Symptoms may include:


  • Frequent mirror checking or avoiding mirrors altogether.

  • Excessive grooming.

  • Seeking reassurance about appearance.

  • Comparing oneself unfavourably to others.


BDD can severely impact daily functioning and relationships, making effective coping strategies crucial.


Healthy Coping Skills for Body Dysmorphia


Seek Professional Help


One of the most effective ways to manage BDD is through professional help such as body image counselling. A qualified therapist can help you understand the root causes of your negative body image and work with you on strategies to improve it.


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)


CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns. For those with BDD, CBT can help challenge distorted beliefs about appearance and develop healthier thinking patterns.


Mindfulness Practices


Mindfulness involves being present in the moment without judgment. Techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga can help reduce anxiety related to body dysmorphia by promoting relaxation and self-awareness.


Limit Social Media Use


Social media often perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards that can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy. Limiting time spent on social platforms or curating your feed to include positive influences can help mitigate these effects.


Focus on Health Over Appearance


Shifting the focus from appearance to health can be incredibly liberating. Engage in activities that make you feel good physically rather than those aimed solely at altering your appearance. This could include:


  • Regular exercise

  • Balanced diet

  • Adequate sleep

  • Hydration


Build a Support Network


Surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family who understand what you're going through can make a significant difference. Open up about your struggles; sometimes just talking about it can alleviate some of the burden.


Journaling


Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can be therapeutic. It allows you to track your progress over time and identify triggers that worsen your symptoms.


The Role of Self-compassion


Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness you'd offer a friend going through a tough time. Practicing self-compassion means acknowledging that it's okay not to be perfect and understanding that everyone has flaws.


Conclusion


Dealing with body dysmorphia is challenging but not insurmountable. By employing healthy coping skills such as seeking professional help through body image counselling, practicing mindfulness, limiting social media use, focusing on health over appearance, building a support network, journaling, and practicing self-compassion, individuals struggling with BDD can find relief from their symptoms.

Remember that everyone deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin. If you're struggling with negative body image or suspect you might have BDD, don't hesitate to seek professional help—your mental well-being is worth it.

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