While we have been promoting physical health all week along with mental health, we want students to understand that getting fit is one thing, aspiring to unrealistic body standards is another. While exercise and maintaining a healthy body is important, loving the skin that you are in comes first. A UL student has seven pieces of advice to help you do just that:
1. Cleanse Your Social Media
Social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When you look in the right places; social media can be a beacon of diversity and positivity. Have a sift through your ‘following’ list on Instagram, if the results are mainly Victoria’s Secret models and people who sell ‘miracle’ weight loss teas perhaps it’s time for a content cleanse. There are plenty of body positive accounts that aim to shatter society’s perception of beauty; rather than adhere to it. My personal favourites are effyourbeautystandards, bodyposipanda and Project Heal.
2. Don’t Buy Trashy Magazines
It can sometimes be tempting to buy some reading material at the bus/train station to keep yourself occupied for the trip home but save yourself the trouble (and a couple of euros) and avoid magazines that pick apart women’s bodies. A handy guide would to avoid anything with the words ‘thunder thighs’, ‘post-baby bod.’ And ‘muffin top’. Seeing women being picked apart so brutally simply for existing is more harmful to your self-worth than you may realise. Pick up a newspaper or treat yo’self to good book; you deserve it.
3. Don’t Count Calories
While calorie-counting can easily fall under the guise of being ‘health-conscious’, it can easily become an obsession and lead you to a life dictated by numbers. Calories are not always an indication of health. Some healthy foods like avocados and unsalted nuts can have a high calorie count whilst still providing you with necessary nutrients. Instead of calorie counting, focus on maintaining a balanced diet that won’t leave you starved and unsatisfied.
4. Count All The Things You Love About Yourself
While I regularly see this tip, it seems to mainly apply to physical attributes. This is all well and good but your physicality changes. I find it a lot more productive to focus on the non-physical things you like about yourself. Pick a talent or attribute that you love and regularly tell yourself how much you love it. By doing this, you are teaching yourself that you are more than your appearance.
5. Keep Busy
Not unrelated to the previous point but engaging in a productive activity you enjoy can give you a sense of achievement and boost your self-esteem. College is the perfect time to discover a new hobby and develop new skills. Finding value in your talents is an important part of overcoming body hang-ups. As well as this, keeping your mind occupied will help keep negative thoughts at bay when they pop up.
6. Don’t Compare
This one gets thrown around a lot but it’s one of the most important. Don’t compare your body to someone else’s and the same goes for your eating habits. Different bodies require different amounts of energy. Don’t feel guilty or embarrassed for eating just because your pals aren’t hungry. Apply this same idea to physical appearance. Everyone’s body is different and obviously we all look different. Avoid conversations talking about clothing sizes or weight, despite being intrusive and unnecessary, conversations like these are a hotbed for poor self-esteem to flourish.
7. Help Your Pals Out
When we put it out there that we don’t like parts of ourselves, we send out the message that it’s not okay to like yourself. In order to combat this, do your best to make your pals feel good about themselves. As well as complimenting them, try not to be too self-deprecating. Sometimes when we highlight something we don’t like about ourselves, our pals feel the need to match it with a flaw of their own. (We all remember that scene from Mean Girls- eh.. I have really bad breath in the morning?) This creates a negative environment that’ll leave you feeling crap.
Thank you Claire for this wonderful advice, if you have some advice to add please comment. If your think others need to hear this (like we do) please share it around.