Summer is always one of the most difficult times of year for people struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. Rather than thinking about spending time outdoors and relaxing with family and friends, the only thoughts are about avoiding swimsuits and figuring out how to withstand the summer heat without wearing summer clothing. Try these tips to change that and feel great about yourself.
- Surround yourself with supportive and 'real' people. Everything always seems worse when you are around people who are critical or unsupportive. Add that to spending time with someone who always seems to have it together and never lets their guard down, and you have a recipe for negative self-image. This applies to social media networks like Facebook as well. Consider cleaning out 'friends' whom you aren't close with or whose pages only serve to make you feel self-conscious.
- Go shopping with a buddy. Shopping for a swimsuit or shorts can be difficult for even the most confident people. Take someone with you to support you and point out styles that will be a good fit for your body type. This person can also help distract you from the numerous mirrors and remind you that you are not your size. If stores are overwhelming to you, you might also consider asking a friend to go shopping for you or order clothing for you. Then you can try them on in the privacy of your home and return what doesn't work.
- Wear clothes you like. Prior to getting dressed or buying new clothes ask yourself "What would I wear today if I had no concerns about my body?" If that is shorts, then wear shorts. If the answer is a sundress, then wear a sundress. If you really like that bikini, then go for it! Don't let negative self-talk and criticisms dictate what you should or shouldn't wear. Your clothing choices should be determined by your own personality, what you like, what the weather is and what you're doing that day.
- Consider ditching the camera. It is wonderful to have photographs to remember fun occasions with. However, if you have an eating disorder or severe body-image issues an ever-present camera can also serve to increase anxiety to the point that the occasion isn't fun anymore. If this is true for you, consider leaving your camera at home and/or asking the people around you to refrain from taking photographs. This will allow you to focus on interacting with the people around you and not worry about what you'll look like in the pictures.
- Get active. Engage in summer activities that you enjoy and that don't trigger your eating disorder. This can be any variety of things: swimming, gardening, hiking, camping, sand volleyball, or lake activities are just a few. Allow yourself to enjoy feeling your body move and remind yourself to be thankful that you body is able to engage in these activities.
- Take care of yourself. Self care can go a long way in helping you feel more rested, relaxed and confident. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Make sure you are getting enough to eat and are eating a variety of foods. Engage in relationships with people who build you up. These things may seem simple on the surface, but many people forget about them in their daily lives. It is important to be intentional and make self- care a priority.