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Build a more positive body image

Orange wildflowers against a blue sky.

Sept. 19, 2020—Chances are you've heard at least one joke about the "COVID 19"—weight gain people say they've experienced during the pandemic.

The jokes aren't meant to hurt anyone. But for those at risk for an eating disorder, they could make a difficult situation even worse. Combined with isolation and stress, the pandemic could prove a perfect storm in which eating disorders and body image issues flourish.

So it may be a good time for all of us to rethink the ways we talk to ourselves about our bodies.

Steps toward a better body image

Changing harmful attitudes about your body isn't always easy. But there are ways to start down a more positive path. Consider these 10 tips from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) and others on healthier ways of looking at yourself:

  1. Focus on all the great things your body can do—like dancing, laughing or dreaming.
  2. Make a list of what you like about yourself, unrelated to your physical appearance. Embrace what makes you unique.
  3. Remind yourself that true beauty comes from within. When you feel good about yourself inside, your confidence shines on the outside.
  4. Be around positive people who love the whole you. Try to see yourself as they do.
  5. Watch your words. Try not to complain about your body, your workout or your diet.
  6. When you have a negative thought about yourself, try to replace it with something positive.
  7. Be kind to your body. Treat yourself to a nap, a warm bath or a peaceful walk in nature.
  8. Don't let negative media messages about body image get in your head. Think critically about what you're hearing and seeing—and counter those messages.
  9. Take a hard look at your own attitudes toward weight, food, health and beauty. What prejudices do you hold?
  10. Let go of the idea that you'll be happy if only you can reach a particular weight. Happiness doesn't come from what you look like on the outside.

NEDA offers a Helpline for people struggling with eating disorders or body image issues. Call, chat or text for support, resources and treatment options.

Or visit NEDA's COVID-19 forum for a safe online space to discuss what's on your mind.

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