8 Ways To Improve Your Relationship With Your Body & Love Yourself


If you are struggling with your body image, accept there may be a problem with the way you are thinking.

Identifying that you may have an issue is a great place to start, and accepting that you are struggling means you have now opened up an opportunity to begin taking steps to improve your relationship with yourself and the health of your thinking.

Mental health struggles often begin with the quality of our thinking over a period of time. Having a professional on board to overlook your thinking and facilitate your efforts to develop new thought patterns will help you repair your relationship with your body.

 Having a professional, objective input early on, whilst also following self-help steps, may be exactly what you need. Of course, you may wish to try self-help techniques alone, to begin with, as you may still find success this way. 

Here are 8 other ways you can gain a positive relationship with your body.

positive body image

1. Surround yourself with people that make you feel good

Surround yourself with people you like, the people who make you feel good, the positive, and that you feel comfortable around. 

When you do not feel good about yourself or your appearance, isolating yourself from people, including those you love, is common. However, this can make you feel much worse. Avoid loneliness at all costs, reinforcing negative thinking and behaviours.

Friends and family are excellent sources of comfort. Opening up to them may help.

Remember that sometimes the people who love you want to help and support you – but their advice and emotional care may not be what you need. A loved one may say the wrong thing, such as trigger words that make you feel anything but better! 

However, understand that many non-professionals may not understand how to communicate effectively and in a sensitive way, and not everyone knows how to meet another person’s emotional needs. However, that doesn’t mean they love or support you any less.

Follow people on social media that promote mindful eating, self-love and body positivity – although these terms are thrown around often with little substance – there are people out there that can inspire you and live through these terms. 

Often, reading other people’s stories and resonating with other people’s journeys can help you realise that you are most definitely not alone. Avoid following people that make you feel bad or worse about yourself – remove them from your feed and be disciplined with this. 

2. Identify your thoughts and behaviours that reinforce how you feel

Make a list of thoughts and behaviours that are associated with negative perceptions of yourself during your day – even things as small as avoiding the mirror/catching a glimpse of yourself, or looking in the mirror numerous times. 

Add to this list each day and understand the importance of these thoughts/behaviours in reinforcing your negative thinking. Be conscious of your automatic thoughts and behaviours. Then reflect on whether specific thoughts or behaviours need to be placed on the list for you to become actively aware of. 

This list brings all the little thoughts and behaviours you do to your awareness, ready for you to challenge one by one. You may find this process is best done alongside professional support to allow you to talk and reflect on how this has made you feel – but there is no reason why you cannot start small: i.e. if you excessively look in the mirror, try to look in the mirror less  – see how you go. 

3. Journal your body dysmorphic thoughts 

Writing your thoughts down and maintaining a journal is a great way to express your emotions, some of which may be in-depth and a little scary on reflection. It is never, ever wise to act on feelings or thoughts of distress or anxiety.

However, writing can allow you to process them without acting on them whilst also becoming aware of your thought patterns and mainly negative or positive thoughts. You can choose to share this with your therapist if you seek professional support.

Separately, choosing to journal everything you notice in your life that is good, positive or joyous is a very good way to introduce more gratitude into your thinking – directing your thoughts away from your body – where attention goes, energy flows!

Struggling with your body image can make it difficult to practice mindfulness, body appreciation, and self-love. For the basics of mindfulness, check out our article

journalling body positivity

4. See a Nutritionist that specialises in body dysmorphia or disordered eating

Disordered eating, dysfunctional relationships with food and eating disorders are common when struggling with body image. Not obtaining the proper nutrients and minerals can cause many health problems. It is essential to eat foods that nourish your body and reduce the effects of disordered eating or inconsistent food intake. 

A nutritionist trained in this area can answer your questions and help you work through food myths that may be contributing to your relationship with your body.

A nutritionist will want to prevent any drastic alterations in your diet and help you maintain a healthy balance of all foods to ensure you obtain the energy and nutrients you need. 

They will want to support you in challenging foods that you have developed unhealthy relationships with and understand essential food intake as being unrelated to weight and body image – working towards establishing a healthier relationship with food. The goal isn’t to achieve a specific weight, and they may never talk about weight with you. The aim is to obtain a healthy lifestyle that works for you.

5. Do moderate exercise

Exercising moderately (not excessively) will help your mental health in the short and long term. You may notice your symptoms are worse when you are inactive or sedentary. 

Exercise that fits comfortably into your lifestyle can be an excellent way to maintain the health of your body and mind. It is not uncommon for individuals with a not so great relationship with their body to turn to excessive exercise. Therefore, actively avoiding doing too much is important otherwise this can have the opposite effect on your mental health, essentially reinforcing the perceptions you have about your body. 

Doing LESS exercise if you are doing too much is another way you can challenge behaviour that reinforces your BDD, as mentioned in point 2. 

6. Create moments of stillness within your day

A quick and effective way to do this is to close your eyes and breathe. Focus on nothing but your breath – take deep breaths into the diaphragm area, keeping shoulders down. Breathe in for 6 seconds and out for 6 seconds. 

The point in this exercise is to take you away from the intensity of your thinking momentarily – this will help you to see that you are not your thoughts. This breathing exercise will also help you activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which can induce feelings of relaxation. 

You can breathe for 5 minutes or 15mins – what works for you, depending on the day and circumstance, what works for you will be best. If you find your mind wandering and fixating on your body or feelings negatively around yourself – then utilise this as an opportunity to let those thoughts mean nothing to be neutral non-judgmental. This will lessen their power, intensity, and importance each time you do this. These thoughts reinforce that harmful perception you hold about yourself, and disconnecting from the thoughts that are responsible for this is important. 

finding stillness

7. Consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the psychological treatment recommended for body dysmorphic disorder. 

The focus of CBT is to look at your cognition and behaviour in order to understand your personal journey of your relationship with food, and what’s required to move you toward re-establishing a healthy relationship with yourself. 

Your therapist will work with you to alter your thinking and behaviours patterns that have come about as a result of your feelings towards your body, whilst helping you identify situations that cause you distress, anxiety, and fear and help you work through these safely whilst implementing better-coping strategies. 

Over time, your CBT therapist will help you work through many aspects of your thinking that may be complex to help you re-wire how you respond to triggers. Everyone has a different story and reason that has to lead them to where they are. It is not uncommon for those who suffer from body image to have underlying traumas. 

CBT can become increasingly important to help you through unresolved traumas that you may not ever have thought could be mixed up in your thinking in relation to BDD – but a therapist can help you move forwards.

8. Be consistent 

Give the steps above time and patience! 

You may wish to consult your GP regarding medication if you feel your BDD is very strongly connected to feelings of depression/anxiety and are awaiting CBT support. 

You may also require temporary medical support alongside talking/CBT therapy and self-help – a therapist can have a conversation to help you understand the role of medications if needed, and your GP will be able to assist your decision if suitable after a consultation.

It is always worth reading about the medication you try beforehand and monitoring how you feel it is helping you progress or not. 

By addressing the way you see yourself through the above steps, you will understand what you feel is the most effective. 

Patience and understanding are required. It doesn’t work or isn’t useful. Recovery is possible, be consistent with self-help efforts and never hesitate to book a consultation with our helpful practitioners.

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