Summer is finally here! Sun, waves, beaches and – wait what, body image?!
TV and digital advertisements promoting ways to ready your “summer body” are in full swing. How will you fit into that bathing suit or bikini? How will you look when you’re lying by the pool? Will you impress your crush?! Yikes – hello self-conscious!
While we may have been yearning for it all winter, summer can certainly be a challenging and triggering time, especially for those with eating disorders.
So what can you do to take back control and preserve a positive body image? Here are some tips:
1). Do what you’ve been doing: Try your best to maintain the same nutritional intake and movement (if that has been positive in your recovery thus far). The weather makes it much easier to be outside in the summer, so make it a point to do what you enjoy, whether it’s walking, hiking, playing tennis or biking. We would suggest avoiding any kind of crash or fad diet; they can actually negatively impact your body and its ability to digest and metabolize optimally.
2). Take baby steps. If you are feeling anxious about yourself or your body, find ways to ease yourself into situations that might feel a little bit more difficult. If your ultimate goal is to feel comfortable going to the beach with friends, maybe work yourself up to doing so by spending time in your bathing suit in the comfort of your own home. The more you practice these types of exposures, the easier they will become.
3). Live in the moment. Mindfulness is an awesome thing. Take a look at all the animals and green trees around you – where were they in the winter?! Feel the sun on your face – I bet you’ve been wishing for this moment since December? Take in some of that vitamin D – it is known to improve mood!
4). Wear what YOU want. Don’t ever feel pressure to put on something that makes you feel uncomfortable. While many advertisers counteract positive body image, others are celebrating all body types, and making us realize there’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.
5). Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. If you’re working with an outpatient provider or therapist, have an open dialogue around any concerns you may be having. Practice and think through scenarios that may arise in uncomfortable situations. Nervous about an upcoming barbecue? Strategize how you can get through it. A friend is having a pool party? Go with someone you trust and can check in with throughout the party.
6). Commit to body positivity. Make a pact with your friends: no negative self-talk this summer. No exceptions. Focus on inner qualities and strengths. While it may be hard to believe at times, those are the things that matter most.
Most of all, if you’re having a tough time with body image, realize you are not alone. Everyone struggles with it during the summer, in one way or another. With so many annoying messages from the media on dieting and looking great, how can’t we start to internalize these messages?
Remember: You are amazing just the way you are – and deserve to make this the best summer yet!
PS(A): As always, don’t forget to use sunscreen : )
Looking for support this summer, we can help you work through any body image issues or concerns.
Portia Kimbis is the Marketing and Community Relations Associate for Walden’s S. Windsor and Guilford clinics Formerly, she was a Residential Treatment Assistant at Rushford, an adolescent boy’s rehabilitation program. Prior to that, she worked as a Senior Patient Coordinator for the OB/GYN Department at the Cornell Medical College at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Ms. Kimbis is enjoying her role at Walden and feels her position is allowing her to learn more about the mental health field and eating disorders. In her free time, she volunteers at Forgotten Felines, a cat shelter where she takes care of felines who need homes. She also enjoys yoga and traveling. Ms. Kimbis received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut in 2013 with a double major in Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies. She is currently completing a Master of Social Work (MSW) program at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Conn.