1. Focus on function & sensation
Instead of fixating on the appearance of your body and others’, concentrate instead on what your body can do for you. When you think like that, you’ll find it’s pretty damn amazing! “Start focusing on your body as the vehicle of your experience rather than as a collection of surfaces to be appraised,” advises Cameron. “Switching to this perspective can come about through paying attention more often to sensations your body generates; how it feels to move, breathe, etc. Reflect on physical sensations your body enjoys and the activities it allows you to do, learning about the body and your body in particular, and remembering that your body is also that thing that generates thoughts and emotions, and appreciating all the subjective experiences it gives rise to.”
2. Quit the comparisons
Seriously, just stop it! Paxton strongly encourages avoiding engaging in negative body talk and discouraging it in the people around you. Instead she suggests you learn to identify when you are making body comparisons and remind yourself that “this is not a positive thing to do. I am making comparisons that are bound to make me feel less happy”.
3. Re-evaluate your worth
“When you value yourself as a person on the basis of your appearance, that puts you at risk,” warns Paxton. “If you can reconsider this and think ‘what is really important about me in my life, what do my friends think or my family think is important about me, and what do I value about what I do in my life?’, this can help people refocus away from appearance-related factors.”
4. Practise mindfulness
“Mindfulness brings us back to the here and now,” says McMahon. “It helps us to step outside from surveillancing our body from the outside to existing in our body from the inside.”
5. Build self-compassion
“Normalise the fact that most of us have parts of our bodies we don’t like – this is called normative discontent,” says McMahon. Recognising this will help us avoid “getting caught up in the unhelpful chitter chatter of our mind”.
6. Engage in regular physical activity that you enjoy
Exercise for pleasure’s sake rather than weight loss, and reap the benefits of those ‘feelgood’ hormones. According to McMahon, an improved mood will have nothing but a positive effect on your body image.
7. Treat yourself kindly
“Nurturing your body and engaging in regular self-care will have a flow-on effect to how you feel about your body,” McMahon adds.