Summer break is almost here and with that comes a few days of freedom and relaxation. It’s a great time to have some fun and go adventuring with your friends. At the same time, this time of year often stirs up anxieties about body image and appearance for people.
The false sense of perfection on social media leaves people feeling like they need to meet a certain standard of beauty at all times. Women and men alike struggle with the belief that they’re not “fit enough” or “thin enough” to spend summer break worry-free. Most people have relatively healthy bodies by everyday standards yet they still believe it’s not good enough.
Women especially feel the pressure to fit into an unrealistic ideal, constantly pursuing the slim and slender Barbie-like proportions they’re “supposed” to mirror. The truth is, these standards are difficult to achieve and maintain, and they’re far outside the norm anyways. There are very few people walking around who look like they stepped off the set of a swimsuit photo shoot.
Thankfully, the body positivity movement is pushing back against this harmful set of expectations. Women and men alike are encouraged to accept the flaws and imperfections that everyone feels and experiences. It’s not always easy to feel confident every day but there are some steps you can take to drop the comparisons and stay body positive during summer break.
Recognize the difference between the “media” ideal and a healthy ideal
When you spend hours scrolling through your social media feeds, you’re bombarded with highly edited images of unrealistic body standards. Everyone knows that Instagram is where people put their best foot forward. The photos you see are a specially curated feed in which only the most aesthetic make it into the public eye.
There’s a massive difference between the “media” ideal and a healthy ideal. The media ideal exists to sell you products in pursuit of an unrealistic standard. Recognizing that not everything you see on social media is achievable will offer some relief. Focus instead on pursuing a healthy ideal for you, one that you enjoy that leaves you feeling comfortable and confident.
Skip the crash diets
Adhering to a strict fad diet in the weeks before summer break is all too common for people. There’s the idea that cutting out entire food groups or consuming only juices will leave you feeling confident enough to step out in style. In reality, though, all you’re doing is depriving your body of vital nutrients and well-rounded nourishment.
When you adhere to a fad or crash diet and deprive yourself of critical foods, you can leave yourself feeling even worse. Food acts as fuel and your body requires a certain amount to function properly. If you’re severely restricting calories or cutting out entire macronutrients, you’re going to feel lethargic, easily irritated, stressed out, and depressed.
Exercise is a gift, not a punishment
The week before any vacation is not the time to start running multiple miles a day or lifting weights in the gym. Using exercise as a punishment to correct behaviors you feel bad about only creates a negative relationship with it. Exercise is also much more than a tool you can use to manipulate how you look.
Recognize that exercise is an enjoyable gift that you can make use of. You don’t have to wait until summer break arrives to start going on walks or riding your bike around town. Exercising is a way to move your body and become stronger and more capable, not to “make up” for things you feel you did wrong.
Ask for help if you need it
It’s normal to feel a bit anxious or stressed before summer break. Everyone struggles with their body image from time to time. If you notice you’re preoccupied with it to the point where it’s affecting your daily life, though, you may need to ask for help.
Sometimes these anxieties can lead to unhealthy behaviors like disordered eating or compulsive exercise. These practices aren’t going to make you have a great summer break, they’re going to contribute to an unhealthy cycle with your body image. And asking for help is the first step off of that dangerous path.
Selah House is a treatment facility specializing in individuals who struggle with eating disorders. We provide treatment programs tailored to your unique needs and experiences. If you think you may be struggling with more than some summer break anxiety, give us a call today. Our admissions counselors can answer any questions you might have.
Selah House understands the importance of a healthy relationship with your body and the things that block you from it. Get in touch with us today and let us know what we can do to connect you with the help you need.