Body image can be a powerful thing. It can be the difference between marching out into the world with confidence and wanting to stay inside and hide, and it's why having the tools to instantly feel better about your body in any given moment can be so incredibly helpful.
In a piece for The Huffington Post, New York-based psychotherapist and former eating disorder sufferer Greta Gleissner, LWSW, said that she went almost two decades feeling bad about her body. "I could be having a perfectly pleasant day, only to suddenly find myself drowning in negative body image. Sometimes the trigger was situational, like putting on a pair of jeans that just came out of the dryer, feeling overly full after a meal, or catching a glimpse of myself in a storefront window while shopping. At other times, a more insidious, pervasive type of body dissatisfaction prevailed in that nothing triggered the feeling," Gleissner said. And she noted that because of our culture's intense focus on thinness, you definitely do not need to have an eating disorder to have negative body image.
While reading Geissler's words, I was struck by how incredibly much I could relate, and I have a feeling a lot of people out there have had similar experiences. If you're starting to feel like negative body image is getting the best of you, here are seven ways to feel better about yourself instantly and put those nagging thoughts to rest.
1. Spray Some Perfume
According to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, the simple act of grooming can positively affect self image. The study's author, Jorien van Paasschen, PhD, said that even just putting on deodorant or dabbing ourselves in perfume instantly makes us more confident in our appearance.
2. Treat Yo' Self
According to an article in Prevention by health and fitness writer Markham Heid, studies have shown that women who received massages felt better about their bodies than women who did not. So if you begin feeling yourself getting down on your body, consider booking an appointment at the local massage parlor and treating yourself.
3. Make A List Of All The People You Admire
In a piece on ways to love your body for NationalEatingDisorders.org, Margo Main, Ph.D, suggested making a list of people you admire whenever you start feeling negative body image creep in. Look at the list and ask yourself if you admire anyone on it for how they look or how much they weigh. Odds are nobody made the list for being skinny.
4. Appreciate What Your Body Does For You
Main also suggested reminding yourself what your body does for you every single day. "Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months. Your body is extraordinary—begin to respect and appreciate it," Main said.
5. Throw Out Underwear That Doesn't Fit
This is a personal tip. Literally nothing makes me feel more uncomfortable than bras and underwear that don't fit correctly — but the flip side is nothing makes me feel nicer than undergarments that fit just right. If something doesn't make you feel your best, throw it out.
6. Get Moving
A study out of the University of Florida has shown that exercise positively affects body image — regardless of whether or not we're losing weight or running marathons. The simple act of getting up and moving makes us feel better about our bodies. So the next time you're struggling with how you feel about your body, get up and dance like crazy for a few minutes — odds are those endorphins are going to kick those feelings to the curb.
Feeling bad about our bodies is unfortunately way too common, and I sadly don't know a single person who is immune. However, always remind yourself that it's often just a passing thought and that sometimes all it takes is dapping on some perfume or a few minutes of cardio to feel better.
And if you're feeling overwhelmed by body image issues, there are always people and resources that can help. Visit NationalEatingDisorders.org to locate healthcare providers in your area.