Body Dysmorphia & How To Fight Back

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Body Dysmorphia & How To Fight Back

Being unhappy with your body is not something that every person struggles with…despite popular belief. It is true that we live in a society where negative self-talk is becoming commonplace, but that doesn’t have to be reality! Every human has insecurities, but if your self-talk is beyond a typical insecurity, it is important to identify it and combat it. Remember, body confidence doesn't come from achieving the perfect body. It comes from loving the body that you've already got! 

Below are some ways to identify body dysmorphia and also how to combat it! 

Do you have body dysmorphia? Check out these 5 common signs: 

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1. You Are Never Fully Present. 

You find yourself never fully engaged in anything. When you are speaking to someone, you are unable to concentrate on what they are saying because you are too focussed on the how veiny your hands look. 

You go on a family vacation but spend half of the time stressing about wearing shorts during a hike because you know that your legs will be mistaken for tree trunks in the pictures.

You bail on dinner plans with a friend because you spend two hours trying on outfits in your closet and not one of your black dresses is “slimming” and the thought of sitting in pants that are too tight is inconceivable. 

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2. You Abuse Mirrors.

You find yourself unable to pass by a mirror without gazing at your reflection. You have to look at yourself every day. On subways, you stare at your reflection. When it is raining, you gaze at the pooled water. On a jog, you pause at the side of a building. You compare and contrast the reflection that you see at the coffee shop window with your bathroom mirror. Each and every mirror brings about an obsessive need to stare and compare because you are living in a constant state of fear of what you look like.

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3. You Create Negative Coping Strategies. 

Maybe you “cope” by running 5 miles on your lunch break because you know that you’re going to have a drink or two at happy hour, or you buy every concealer that Glamour magazine recommends because you can’t bare to show the world your “grotesque” skin. Eating in secrecy won’t help diminish your anxiety either. 

Without becoming aware of your body dysmorphia, it can develop into very unhealthy and compulsive habits. The feeling or thought that you need to constantly fix something about yourself immediately renders you unable to face the world authentically and can create discomfort with the close relationships that you have. 

4. You Can’t Stop Comparing Yourself To Others. 

Body dysmorphia can be all-consuming. For example, maybe you are out shopping and you notice the tag of a lady’s dress is hanging out. She is wearing a size 0. Why can’t you be a size zero? Your shopping experience is then ruined because you are comparing yourself to a woman that you don’t even know. 

Maybe there is a new intern in your office and they have a zit on their nose. You begin comparing it to the outbreaks on your chin that you KNOW that everyone has noticed. 

Point being, the comparisons never stop. You are always comparing yourself to a friend, a celebrity, a model, or that lady in the shopping mall that you don’t even know! Your comparison makes you feel inadequate and small. It is a losing battle in your mind no matter who you are sizing yourself up against. 

5. Your Negative Talk Is Constant.

Women have 80,000 thoughts every day and men have around 40,000 thoughts per day. What if you were spending 80% of that time speaking negatively to yourself? From the moment you hop out of bed, to the moment your head hits the pillow, you find yourself attacking yourself and comparing yourself to others. 

When you walk down the street and you panic because someone else is approaching from the other direction. You are worried that you might not both be able to fit on the sidewalk and pass one another.

You board an airplane and immediately volunteer to the flight attendant to sit in the emergency row because you fear your thighs might creep onto the other person’s seat. 

You stop showering consistently because each time you get into the shower, you scrub your face so aggressively that you turn beet red and pierce a few of your outbreaks because you can’t bear to look at your acne outbreaks. 

Body dysmorphia can be all consuming whether it is gradual or all at once. It takes on different shapes, forms, and body parts, but it has the ability to steal your joy without your permission. 

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Want to change the way you look at yourself...literally? 

There are a few lifestyle and home remedies that you can use to help combat any disordered thoughts such as avoiding drugs and alcohol and talking to a doctor or therapist about your struggle. There are also ways to focus and identify these behaviors. Consider these tips from the Mayo Clinic

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  • Write in a journal. This can help you better identify negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
  • Don't become isolated. Try to participate in normal activities and regularly get together with friends and family who can act as healthy supports.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat healthy, stay physically active and get sufficient sleep.
  • Read reputable self-help books. Consider talking about them to your doctor or therapist.
  • Join a support group. Connect with others facing similar challenges.
  • Stay focused on your goals. Recovery is an ongoing process. Stay motivated by keeping your recovery goals in mind.
  • Learn relaxation and stress management. Try stress-reduction techniques such as meditationyogaor tai chi.
  • Don't make important decisions when you're feeling despair or distress. You may not be thinking clearly and may regret your decisions later.
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Do your best to love yourself beyond measure...and if that's not an option right now, seek help from friends, family, or loved ones. You deserve it. You deserve you.

Meghan Ann Martin