If you struggle with your body image, you're not alone. 1 in 5 people have been shown to feel shame because of their body image.
We shouldn't underestimate how much it can impact your life; negative body image has been associated with psychological distress, unhealthy eating behaviours, avoidance of health-seeking behaviours (eg. exercise, seeking medical care) and increased risk of eating disorders.
One of the ways you can improve your feelings about your body is to journal or do writing tasks that are related to your feelings about your appearance/size and eating habits.
Writing down your thoughts can help you to unburden yourself of difficult feelings, clarify your thoughts, highlight the (sometimes forgotten) positives, recognise unhelpful thinking patterns and come up with solutions or plans on how you can take positive steps to feel better.
Writing about your body, particularly from a positive perspective such as recognising its many functions or appreciating how it has served you has been associated with increased body satisfaction and improvement in overall self-worth.
Stuck for what to write or where to begin? Here are 20 journal prompts to help get you started:
1. Are you attentive to your body’s needs? If so, why? If not, how could you start to improve this?
2. What do you appreciate about your body?
3. How can you show your body respect tomorrow?
4. List all of the things you appreciate about your body. Then, write about what life would be like if these things were taken away.
5. If you were in a place where you felt comfortable about your body and wanted to show it respect, what things would you do in your day to day life? What would you NOT do?
6. What can you do more of to look after your body’s health and your overall wellbeing? What could you be doing less of?
7. Write a letter to your body from the perspective of a kind, accepting and unconditionally loving friend. Imagine that they can see all of the strengths and weaknesses, including those aspects of your body that you may view as flawed or imperfect. What would your friend tell you about your body? What would they say about your tendency to judge yourself harshly?
8. How has social media affected your body image?
9. What is something your body does for you that is unique?
10. How do you respond to sensations of hunger and fullness? Looking at your answer, is this helpful? Why/why not?
11. What does your body do for you everyday?
12. Write about a time your body has protected or helped you.
13. What can you eat tomorrow that will help you sustain your energy levels?
14. What are the negative consequences of continuing with how you're doing things right now? What are the potential positives associated with making some changes?
15. What are some of the kindest choices you can make for your body over the next few days?
16. What can you do to help yourself pause when you feel an urge to overeat?
17. If you are feeling that things have really fallen off track: what can you do for the next 3 days to improve things for yourself?
18. What are 3 things I can do for myself today that my future self would be grateful for?
19. Right now, my body needs…
20. How have the media and societal expectations impacted your body image?
Make a commitment to writing that works for you- can you commit to trying this 3 times to see how helpful it is? If so, is 3 days in a row realistic, or should you spread them out a bit?