4 Ways to Deal with “Summer-Body” Anxiety
Spring is a hopeful time of year. After being dormant since fall, signs of new growth are everywhere. The days get longer, lighter, and warmer. We update our skin care (hopefully getting more vigilant about reapplying sunscreen), add more color to our wardrobes, and start planning for end of school and summer events with friends and family.
But, there’s another side to spring that we don’t readily acknowledge. The coming of spring triggers a conscious, or subconscious, anxiety to get our bodies in shape for summer. If you were a teen or an adult in the 80s, 90s and/or early 2000s, you lived through the multitude of media campaigns telling women what to eat, which exercises to do and what to wear to hide unflattering areas of our bodies.
The prevailing pressure to fit the social standard of beauty was in everything we read or watched. The bikini body-focused campaigns began in spring and ran through September, before switching back to messaging around ‘cozy fall wardrobes’ and ‘hearty foods for winter’.
As adolescents and young adults of the 80s and 90s, we are fully aware of the idealized standards of beauty. When we opened the doors to RejuvenationMD eight years ago (this month!), as women, mothers, and providers specializing in nonsurgical aesthetics, our focus has always been to improve self-acceptance, confidence and overall wellness.
Studies show that when people are happy with their appearance, they feel more confident which increases productivity. Self-confidence leads to a better quality of life and increased longevity. It also fosters positive self-esteem which encourages healthier relationships with others and supports unconditional self acceptance.
Before you conclude that aesthetic medicine is in direct conflict with the notion of self-acceptance and body positivity, it’s important to understand that good nonsurgical aesthetic practices work to enhance existing beauty. We do not condone or practice over treatment. And when we see patients obsessing, we address it. Beauty comes in all shapes, colors and sizes, and we regularly remind our patients that they weren’t put on this Earth to look like anyone but themselves.
That said, you’re the only one who can change your outlook. If you’re feeling anxious and triggered by spring and the coming of summer, here are 4 ways to get rid of summer-body anxiety, improve your self-confidence and help you feel more empowered.
1. Stop & Reframe Your Thinking.
We take for granted that our bodies are living breathing phenomenons. Your body is currently carrying out innumerable functions that you don’t even need to think about. Your respiratory system is feeding your circulatory system the oxygen your tissues need to live while expelling cellular respiration—carbon dioxide—and you’re not required to provide input on the matter!
So, next time you start to pull at or poke a part of your body that you wish were different, stop and think about all the functions it’s accomplishing right in this moment that are allowing you to experience life.
2. Watch Your Language.
We have a rule in our office, if you wouldn’t say something about your friend, you shouldn’t say it about yourself. In other words, negative self-talk is not allowed. Negative self-talk degrades your confidence and self-worth. Persistent self-criticism is limiting; it instills fear and holds you back from doing things that bring you joy.
Everyone experiences self-doubt, but if you’re walking around with an inner critic degrading your value it can lead to depression, eating disorders, negative emotions and other mental health issues. If this is something you’re struggling with, here’s a great article that gives you 4 steps to help change that pattern.
3. Make Small Lifestyle Changes and Think Long Term.
This time of year, we often see people making extreme changes to their diets and exercise routines in effort to lose weight at the detriment to their physical and mental wellbeing. To overcome the annual cycle of summer-body anxiety, practice giving your body the nutrition it needs to function optimally.
Little things, like adding a handful of power greens to your daily smoothies, or drinking two more glasses of water each day, not only supports your physical health but it can also help you feel more empowered and support your mental health. The key is moderation and consistency. The first few weeks of change are always the hardest. Before you give up, give yourself grace, stop the self-criticism and remember that you’re a bad a$$ living, breathing phenomenon that can do whatever you put your mind to.
4. Move Regularly
Our bodies were designed to be in motion, but modern lifestyles are sedentary. And sitting for long periods of time without movement can contribute to a host of health issues. Stiffness, aches, and pains are often a result of not enough movement.
Movement benefits the function of the body in myriad of ways. From helping to lubricate your joints, keeping your skeletal and muscular systems healthy to supporting the endocrine system and your hormonal balance. Studies show that getting outside every day for a walk is beneficial for your health and mental wellness. It lowers blood pressure, supports cognitive function, reduces bad cholesterol, improves mood, increases happiness and reduces negative thoughts. Next time your self-confidence takes a dip, forego the extreme workout and self-deprivation, and get out for a walk and focus on gratitude.
The media pressure will always be there. It may be more pervasive than ever since we carry it everywhere we go. But the growing movements toward inclusivity, body positivity, body neutrality and self-acceptance are becoming widely accepted. These voices are changing the generational narrative on body image and dismantling the myopic social constructs of what society considers beautiful.
RejuvenationMD is the premier aesthetic skin treatment and wellness center in Washington’s North Sound. Our award-winning practice is home to 3 female physicians, an ARNP, a registered nurse, and a team of master estheticians and patient care coordinators. Learn more online at www.RejuvenationMDMedSpa.com or call RejuvenationMD in Bellingham 360-685-8408 or Burlington 360-982-2620 today.