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I don’t like what I see in the mirror

When Katherine looks at her reflection in the mirror, she doesn’t see the loving mother, effective employee and loyal friend that she is. Instead, all she sees are the extra pounds around her middle, the wrinkles around her eyes and the evolving geography of her body. And she feels depressed.

When TV and movie stars all look young and thin on the red carpet, when 45-year-old actresses look like 25-year-olds, when every ad for weight-loss programs or skin care tells us we could look better if we only tried, it’s hard to accept the bodies nature gave us.

Body image problems affect women of all ages and sizes. But men, too, can feel depressed when they compare themselves to the tan, muscular guys in TV ads.

For some of us, the problem goes beyond wishful thinking and can lead to real depression, anxiety or eating disorders.

“We tend to objectify our bodies, rather than looking at the unity between our body, mind and spirit,” says psychologist Nancie Ziemke, a specialist in eating disorders and accompanying disorders. “So we allow our perceptions of our bodies to affect how we feel about ourselves.”

The flip side, she says, is that if we’re already depressed or anxious, we want to have control over something and we focus on our body.

To truly accept your body, Dr. Ziemke says, it’s important to move from a focus on “objective body” (objectifying your body) to “awareness body” (the body aware of itself) and consider how the parts of your body function and what they do for you.

Look at consequences, not at your positive or negative value. If you gain twenty pounds, it may mean you can’t walk as far without getting short-winded and you might want to remedy that. But it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.

Show yourself compassion and love, she says and practice these tips for accepting your reflection in the mirror.

How to feel better about your body

Let go of negative self talk
Separate your thoughts from who you are. We can’t control our thoughts, but we can choose how to respond to them.
Engage in life.
Don’t let your self-consciousness make you isolate yourself from enjoyable experiences that can make you feel better about yourself.

Focus on experiences.
Try to be in the present moment, rather than the past or the future.

Let go of dieting
Your body responds to dieting as if you’re starving and weight gain can actually result. Instead, learn life-long healthy eating and exercise habits.

Accept that bodies age
It’s ok to grieve over time past, but focus on taking care of your body and living a meaningful life.

People who are in love with life are naturally more attractive. That’s how Katherine wants to be and she’s decided to concentrate on living life fully and accepting who she is now.

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