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Healthy Relationships
April 18, 2023
Summer Lovin' [not] Havin' a Blast

Shift Team

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How to Navigate Body Image Issues: Summer 2023 Edition

Summer is often associated with longer days, warmer nights, and fun activities like hanging out with friends on patios, going to the beach with family, and wearing shorts, bathing suits, and tank tops. However, for those who live with an eating disorder, are recovering from one, or struggle with body image issues, these activities can feel overwhelming and triggering. Choosing an outfit, being seen in a bathing suit, or going to the beach can cause stress and anxiety. This guide will talk about the real-ness of wanting to do all the fun things this summer and worrying about your body image.

What is living with an eating disorder and body image issues like?

The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one you have. Let’s say that again together, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important one you have!

When you’re living with an eating disorder or body image issues the biggest thing on your mind is what others are thinking of you, what meal you are going to have next (or not) and how your body looks. Living in fear of food and having an unhealthy relationship with your body image means that every other relationship in your life is going to suffer, it’s inevitable. When you’re living with an eating disorder or body insecurities, it’s consuming. It might be the only thing you can think of that day, regardless of what other important tasks may need your attention. It will impact your relationship with yourself so deeply that it changes the way you show up at school, at work, in social settings and more. This can often be amplified during certain triggers, life stressors, and times of the year (like summer)!

Several things can impact the relationship we have with our bodies. The mind and body work together and when one system is offline, it will inevitability affect the other one. Living with an eating disorder or body image issues means you may not get the proper nutrients to function well on a day-to-day basis. Without proper nutrition, we can slowly restrict the nutrients our brain needs, impacting our cognitive functioning. When our eating disorder takes over the mind, the body begins to turn off certain hormones and functions to move into survival mode. This is why many people with eating disorders will notice they stop menstruating. This is a sign that something more serious is happening in our bodies and we should seek a medical professional's advice immediately.

How do I handle these feelings?

First off, you're not alone. We’ve all been there, and whether we care to admit it, we have all had negative thoughts about our bodies at some point. It’s only natural that we may find ourselves critiquing our bodies in the same way our minds critic things we do every day. As they say, we are our own worst critics.

Remember that you are unique, which means what works for you will not likely work for someone else.

Processing how and why an eating disorder or poor relationship with your body image has developed should be discussed with a trusted professional. Several factors may have or are currently contributing to your eating disorder and or body image issues. Please ensure that you seek the advice of a trusted professional.

“You cannot stop the waves, but you can learn to surf” - Jon Kabat-Zinn

5 gentle reminders for your brain and body...

  1. This day/event is not just about food. It’s about making a memory and/or spending time with my friends/and or family
  2. This feeling is temporary
  3. I have permission to enjoy food and fun food nurtures my inner child
  4. I am working through an eating disorder and/or body image issues and healing isn’t perfect
  5. May I be kind to myself

Remember that eating disorder recovery and repairing your relationship with your body image takes time. Be gentle with yourself as you heal!

This article was written by Rachel Costa during their time at Shift Collab.

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