21 Oct How You View Your Body Has A Major Impact On Your Happiness
Today, the pressure to look a certain way has never been greater. Thanks to the digital age, we’re seeing a rise in the number of people flaunting the way they look across social media platforms. Exercise videos, impressive before and afters and selfies taken on just the right angle with an image enhancing filter are all the rage.
It’s easy to see why there are a growing number of people struggling with their own body image. For years, we’ve recognised the effects exposure to magazines, models and celebrities has on body image, but today, the media landscape has changed. As a result, it’s affecting not only how we live, but also our body image and our overall happiness.
Study finds body image has a major impact on your happiness
A study conducted by Chapman University closely examined the link better people’s satisfaction with their appearance and overall satisfaction with life. It was found, your opinion of your body has a major impact on how happy you are.
Author of the study and Assistant Professor of Psychology at Chapman University, Dr. David Frederick explains that satisfaction with your overall appearance has a profound effect on your life satisfaction. “Our study shows that men’s and women’s feelings about their weight and appearance play a major role in how satisfied they are with their lives overall,” he said in a statement.
Being slender and lean is important for women
12,176 men and women aged between 18 and 65 years old participated in the study. The weight and appearance of the individuals was measured using BMI readings and each person was required to complete a survey regarding body image. The questions were centred around personality, personal characteristics, beliefs about romantic relationships, TV viewing, and of course, self-esteem.
It was found 20 percent of women and 15 percent of men were extremely dissatisfied with their current body weight. Among women body image was considered the third strongest predictor of overall life satisfaction and happiness, following their financial wellbeing and relationship with their partner.
Interestingly, body image was the second predictor of life satisfaction for men, following their financial satisfaction. Not sure how their partners meant to feel about that one!
Dr. Frederick says, “these findings are consistent with the emphasis placed on the importance of being slender for women and for appearing athletic and/or lean for men”.
People with positive body image are more likely to be the extroverted types
Disappointingly in my opinion, only 24 percent of men and 20 percent of women said they were very happy or extremely satisfied with their weight. Those with a positive body image tended to be more extrovert, outgoing, open, and conscientious.
Being dissatisfied with their body, in particular weight, contributed negatively also to the person’s sex life and self-esteem. It impacted their relationships both romantic and friendships. The women of the study who were dissatisfied with their physical appearance and weight were more likely to experience anxiety over their relationships. Sadly, they’re also more fearful that their partner would end the relationship.
“Body dissatisfaction and anxious attachment styles can lead to an out-of-control spiral and fuel each other. People who are less confident in their appearance become more fearful that their partner will leave, which further fuels their worries about their appearance.”
Improving your negative body image to increase your happiness
Today, children as young as 8 are experiencing body image issues! If unresolved, by the time they become adults these issues have become part of their identity are hard to alter.
It’s not impossible, it just takes time. But if the Chapman University study is anything to go by, improving your body image will come with a lot of rewards, including healthier relationships and overall happiness.
Here are my tips to improving your body image:
Scrolling mindlessly through Instagram or Facebook is not going to improve your self-esteem or happiness. In fact, a study by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found spending hours online is linked to increased concerns about body image. So switch off, spend more time face-to-face with friends and family rather than following users and trending hashtags!
Find a distraction
When you find yourself falling into a negative mindset and criticising your body image, you need to find a distraction. Consciously shift your thoughts onto something else other than your appearance or weight. If you’re not great at changing your mindset, find a physical distraction, like exercise, gardening, or going for a walk.
Rather than focusing on what your body does or doesn’t look like, start focusing on what your body can do. Perhaps your stomach is not as toned as you would like, but maybe in it you carried your precious babies. Perhaps your arms are masculine, but did they help you carry the shopping, lift those weights and punch that bag at the gym. Instead of being so fixated on what’s wrong with your body, start setting healthy goals for yourself.
What our bodies can do is incredible. Many of us need to appreciate just how amazing they are and in the process, learn to nurture and nourish them. We need to stop putting pressure on ourselves to change our bodies so they look more like someone else, and ditch the negativity. At the end of the day, if you feel good about yourself, you’ll have a greater chance of achieving happiness.