How To Beat Negative Body Image While Gyms Are Closed
Your body is still worthy!
For many women, feeling insecure and wanting to change our body has become the norm. Many of us go to the gym because it gives us a sense of control over our bodies. We feel like we should go rather than actually wanting to be there. We feel like we ought to burn off the ice cream we ate over the weekend to ‘keep in shape’. If you’re feeling anxious that you’ll gain weight over lockdown, you’re not alone (millions of women feel the same) but we’re here to remind you that you are bloody fabulous, no matter what.
With more time spent at home alone, lockdown forces us to confront ourselves. Although that can be a valuable experience, it also means that we have more time to spend scrolling on social media and more time comparing ourselves.
Lockdown has been particularly difficult for women suffering with eating disorders. Disrupted routines, the dominant narrative of home workouts and general lack of control has meant that disordered eating habits have sky rocketed. In response, leading eating disorder charity BEAT, has said: “Demand for our Helpline services has soared”.
Anna Llewellyn, aged 22 from London says: "I didn't relapse into my ED but I did spend most of lockdown really fighting it and fighting those thoughts around food. So it was pretty much always on my mind. I didn't wear a bra because the feeling of something restricting my skin was always a reminder of how my body felt".
With 1.25 million people in the UK and 28.8 million Americans suffering with eating disorders, it’s obvious that the world has a very damaged perception of health. We are a society fixated on what we look like, rather than how we feel. Whilst exercise has many benefits for our physical health and mental well-being, it has the power to actually hinder our health if practiced in excess or obsessed over mentally.
Enough with all the statistics and negativity! We know that self-love and acceptance is a challenge: it goes against everything we’ve been taught about ourselves. But just because the gyms are closed doesn’t mean that you can’t move your body in other ways, it doesn’t mean you’ll instantly gain weight (it’s ok if you do, this is a bloody pandemic!) and it doesn’t mean you’re any less fabulous.
Read our 6 tips about managing negative body image in lockdown:
#1. Find new ways to move your body
Whether you’re a weightlifter or a running machine lover, there are so many different forms of exercise out there to try! Yoga, pilates, HIIT, hiking and boxing just to name a few. Moving our bodies even for 30 minutes a day releases endorphins and improves our overall well-being, but keep in mind that you absolutely don’t have to come out of lockdown with abs or a newfound love for running. Gentle movement can do wonders too. Zoe Wilson, aged 23 from Suffolk says: “Home workouts aren’t for me so I’m going gentle with things that teach you to be mindful. Going through a yoga flow in the morning and a walk after lunch”.
#2. Adapt your mindset
The way you talk to yourself matters! It’s important to be kind to yourself because most of what’s happening at the moment is out of your control. Instead of thinking about the gym session you should be in, try to think of the positives instead. Thank your body for all that it is doing for you instead of punishing it for what you can’t. Don't neglect your mental health either - a lot of people rely on the gym for stress-relief so find another outlet and make time for self-care.
Taing care of your body is important so remember to nourish it with wholesome foods. Now that restaurants are closed perhaps it’s time to get those cookbooks out you got for Christmas all those years ago? But just because you’re not going to the gym doesn't mean you have to cut out chocolate! Listen to your body.
#4. Stop obsessing over your body
Staring at your body and picking it apart in the mirror isn’t going to change anything! Adopting a body neutral approach might be useful. Body positivity takes a lot of mental energy to practice love and acceptance, whereas body neutrality is about appreciating what your body can do rather than what it looks like. You could write a list of why you’re grateful for your body or you could just focus your attention elsewhere and try not to give weight to thoughts of your body.
Body Neutrality - Knowing our bodies are inherently good regardless of the way we look.— knuckle sammich (@Chaingry) November 8, 2020
Our bodies are unique vessels in which we get to experience life and the world. That in itself makes them incredible and of course, valid.
#5. Allow yourself to enjoy other things
Not going to the gym means you have a lot of spare time to put into other things that bring you joy. Whether that’s more time with your family or more time to put into a project or hobby, see the good.
#6. Detox your social media
Your social media feed should make you feel inspired, educated or happy in some way. If you find that you’re feeing deflated, insecure or negative about your body because of who and what you’re following then detox your feed.
The gym may be closed but your body is still here, loving you, fighting for you and inviting you home. Your body is not there to be shaped and moulded for 'beauty', it’s a home for your memories, thoughts and dreams.
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