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Be body positive

Main image 17 May, 2019

It’s an age-old stereotype that people in the UK have a ‘stiff upper lip’; that we don’t talk about our feelings and instead we soldier on in the face of adversity. However, it’s an attitude that we here at YourGP are keen to challenge, because we believe that when it comes to our feelings, it’s good to talk.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is body image – how we think, feel and talk about our bodies. Body image can have a huge impact on one’s mental health, as new research by the Mental Health Foundation shows. Based on a survey of more than 4,500 UK adults, their latest findings revealed that when asked how they felt about their body image in the last year, 34% of people felt down, 20% felt shame, and 19% felt disgusted.

Anxiety, depression, eating disorders and many other mental health issues are often interlinked with poor body image so it’s clear that action is needed to build and promote positive body image.

How can we promote positive body image?

Parents and carers can play a vital part in positively influencing the next generation, helping them to form a healthy attitude to their bodies. Children pick up so much from adults – their behaviour, opinions and choice of language – all of which can have a lasting effect, so it’s important we’re mindful of the example we’re setting.

Of course, it’s not just children and young people that be affected by negative body image. The lack of body diversity depicted in adverts and the promotion of the ‘ideal’ body via social media can potentially affect the way we adults view and compare our bodies. It’s therefore important to remind ourselves that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.

Most people have minor things they’d perhaps like to change about their bodies, but if persistent negative thoughts are impacting on your mental health, it’s imperative you seek help.

Top tips for positive mental health

  1. Speak up: If you’re feeling anxious, for whatever reason, it’s important to talk openly. Don’t suffer in silence. Connect with a friend, a family member, or a healthcare professional and ask for help if you need it. Similarly, if you suspect someone you know is struggling, reach out and speak up.
  2. Get active: Countless studies have shown that regular exercise can have a positive effect on body image and mental health.
  3. Eat well: Enjoy a balanced diet to fuel your body the right way.
  4. Rest: Modern life is hectic so make sure you take a break. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, a little mindful meditation can work wonders.
  5. Enjoy yourself: Self-care is an essential step towards positive mental health so set aside time to look after number one. Doing something you love or you’re good is a great way to boost self-esteem.

You can find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week and positive body image at www.mentalhealth.org.uk. Alternatively, if you’d like to speak to a professional, call YourGP on 0131 225 5656 or email reception@your.gp and we’ll be happy to help you.

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