Writing may not be the first activity that comes to mind when you think about how to improve your body image. Body image and the way we feel about the way we look is a complicated emotion. Body dissatisfaction has become an overwhelming issue which is creating a rise in eating disorders, depression and anxiety. This has motivated researchers to figure out how they can help.
Researchers at Northwestern University have conducted a study which suggests that a different mental framework can help improve your body image. How is this alternate mind frame achieved? They found that by writing letters to themselves, people could significantly increase body satisfaction even if it was just for a short period of time.
Self compassion was a common theme in these letters. Self compassion exercises would involve writing a letter to yourself from a friend that addresses your concerns about your body image but responds kindly, comforts and supports you lovingly regardless.
The other writing exercise in the study was meant to be completed quickly and online. In the online form, they requested that participants write one or several sentences that showed self-compassion. This was to be practised frequently after the first online session.
It became clear to the researchers that negative self-talk and idealized media images of women were almost guaranteed to decrease thoughts of a positive body image. Feeling positive about your body image regularly may happen when you take away the habits associated with negative body image and replace them with positive habits like writing a letter or sentence to yourself showing self-compassion.
Write It Down
Writing exercises connect the mental states to a more concrete physical state. When people take the time to write responses or positive affirmations to themselves, it creates a more focused and meditative experience. This way, the thought will be reinforced much more than simply trying to believe it.