Almost everywhere we turn, we see propaganda about body image, which forces us to consider how we appear on a daily basis. In a day, how many times do we look in the mirror? The idea of holding up a mirror to ourselves is a part of the addiction recovery process. Although recovery requires a more internal self-assessment, our self-image plays a crucial role in our daily lives.
Due to constant media attention on perfection, body image issues are more common than you might think. For example, it’s estimated over 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. alone, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). In addition, several studies have linked substance abuse with eating disorders. In particular, young adults suffering from body image issues are more likely than their peers to use drugs and alcohol.
Studies of children and adults reveal a correlation between poor body image and substance use. Alcohol and other substances may be substituted for food, social time, and sleep when individuals are attempting to change their physical appearance to achieve an unhealthy or unrealistic body type. Depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, and other mental health disorders can also be exacerbated by negative self-image.
Substance Use for Weight Loss
For decades, drugs and alcohol have been used to control weight. For instance, some substances suppress appetite, allowing people to skip meals easily. When alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs are substituted for meals to curb hunger, they have the potential to lead to addiction.
Substance abuse can negatively affect a person’s relationship with food and their body, increasing the symptoms of eating disorders and other types of mental illness.
In order to overcome poor body image and unhealthy behaviors, you must confront them instead of escaping them through substance abuse. The mental, emotional, and physical healing process is challenging but can be achieved with dedication and professional treatment. Recovery is possible.
Tips to Help You Gain Positive Body Image
Pay attention to what your body is telling you.
Your body will tell you when it craves exercise, food, or rest. In order to maintain a healthy image, it is essential to pay attention to your body and give it what it needs.
Deny Negative Thoughts and Rewire Your Brain
Did you know that negative thoughts can hijack neural pathways in your brain and change how your brain thinks? Once you have identified these thoughts or thought patterns, you need to challenge them. You can start by consciously saying “no” to every negative thought to create a more positive attitude.
You can also challenge and change these thoughts by taking a step back and objectively evaluating them. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) uses methods similar to this, which is why residential treatment that includes CBT can greatly help gain a more positive body image.
Focus on the Positive
Positive body image requires effort and intention. Taking a positive approach to your body is one of the best tips for improving your body image. Focus on your body’s capabilities and cultivate gratitude for them. When you appreciate the work your body does, you’re more likely to keep it healthy.
Ways to cultivate gratitude for your body:
- Repeat positive affirmations
- Write down things you like about your body in your journal
- Choose foods and activities that strengthen and nourish your body
- Meditate on the ways you are grateful for your body
Doing these exercises takes only a few minutes and can be included in your daily body-positive routine.
You can also consider other things you admire about yourself besides your physical appearance, such as your intelligence or kindness. Remember that you are more than your physical body – you are also a spirit and a mind. What defines a person is her character and personality, not her appearance.
Avoid Making Comparisons
Comparing yourself to peers or celebrities often leads to feelings of dissatisfaction with your body. Try to be aware of the times you compare yourself to others. Make sure you remember that everyone has a unique body and that there is no such thing as an “ideal” body type.
Anyone can change their appearance using apps and websites, so assuming everyone is naturally flawless can be very damaging. Take steps to avoid comparing yourself to others on social media. Try to fill your feed with body-positive posts and people. You can also try limiting your time on the internet or deleting the apps that cause you to feel worse.
Have Realistic Goals
Think about what you want and then ask yourself if that is realistic and healthy. If you can’t honestly answer “yes” to both questions, don’t do it.
Addiction can make it hard to feel good about yourself, your body, and your abilities. When you work on building your self-confidence, you can gain more appreciation for your recovery. Loving and accepting yourself is an important part of the process on your path to wellness. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and poor body image, help is available. Reach out to our team at Hannah’s House today and get started on your healing journey.
Hannah’s House is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
For more information about the stages of alcoholism in women or to learn about our programs, call us today: 561.841.1272.