How do you feel when you look in the mirror?
If you don't feel very confident or at least positive, that's something that needs changing.
Everyone has insecurities and issues with their body image from time to time, both girls and guys. A big problem surrounding body image is the stigma around male body image meaning that guys are less likely to talk about their problems than girls.
This year's Mental Health Awareness Week is all about body image with a focus on how we think/feel about our bodies. If this is a topic that impacts your mental health, it's important to talk about it. If you struggle to do this, surround yourself with positivity on social media instead - it could rapidly improve your mental wellbeing. Keep an eye on the Mental Health Foundation's Instagram especially to keep yourself motivated and inspired.
If you've ever felt negative about your body image, uncomfortable and/or insecure, you're not alone! It's completely normal to have periods like this BUT if you find that it has a long-term impact on your mental health, that is when you need to do something to improve it.
That doesn't mean you need to start loving yourself overnight but it does mean that you should try to alter your mindset to ensure that you think positively and appreciate yourself more.
A universal problem
When people talk about body image, they usually only refer to or consider females and think they're the only people who experience problems like this. In fact, it's something that affects everyone. Research has shown that 40% of men suffer from 'manxiety' - meaning that they worry about banter from their mates which usually means being teased about their body and how they look. A lot of men also feel pressured to have the 'perfect body' by TV, magazines and social media too.
Sound familiar? If so, here are a few useful tips that might help you improve your mental health:
- Have social media breaks...
Get rid of apps like Instagram and Snapchat if you feel like they're starting to affect you negatively. The last thing you need to see when you're feeling down is to see lots of toned and ripped men staring back at you. Remind yourself that only a small chunk of it is actually real!
- ...Or just use social media better
If deleting apps and deactivating accounts seems like a big step, start making better use of your accounts. Start by following (and unfollowing) certain people. Your feed should be full of accounts that make you feel good and positive. Start commenting on other lads photos too, there's nothing wrong with a bit of #ladmiration every now and then!
- Make note of your best features
This is probably going to be a difficult one but point out all the things you like about yourself in the notes in your phone or a diary; somewhere that's going to be handy when you're feeling the pressure. This way, you can have a quick look to remind yourself that life isn't that bad.
- Thinking positively
Those notes are a great place to start but it's all about changing your mindset to become happier and see the brighter side of things instead of the negative. This could be encouraged by listening to podcasts or reading books and once you start doing it, you will start feeling much better.
- Speak to somebody
For times when you're really struggling, reach out. Whether this means sharing your feelings with those closest to you or contacting an organisation like support services on campus, CALM or Samaritans, it's important to speak about how you're feeling and share this with others.
It's important to talk about your problems and what you're experiencing but remember, you are never alone and thousands of other people are feeling exactly the same way. By adopting a positive outlook on your body image, you will start to feel much stronger - physically and mentally. This isn't going to happen overnight and could take months to feel confident (or even comfortable) but it's important to focus on the journey towards that.