Body Image

Let’s talk about body image. Body image is your perception, thoughts, and feelings of your physical self.

There are 4 aspects of body image:

Perceptual- the way you see yourself

Affective- the way you feel about the way you look

Cognitive- the thoughts and beliefs you feel about your body

Behavioral- the things you do in relation to the way you look

Having body image issues involves being overly focused on the physical aspects of your body. This can be comparing your size, shape, features, appearance, etc. to others or unrealistic ideals. Having body image issues can lead to mental health issues, low self esteem, eating disorders and more. The three most common types of eating disorders are binge eating, anorexia, and bulimia.

Research has shown that children as young as 3 have developed body image issues. That same research has shown that girls develop a desire to be thinner starting around age 6. It also showed that girls’ body dissatisfaction is predicted by how they perceive their mom feels about her own body. Parents were also deemed more controlling of girls’ eating behaviors than boys- the girls in the study were not heavier than the boys. Then, by the age of 17, over 80% of teens will have body image issues.

A negative body image can come from many sources but the main include family, peers, the media, and social pressures.

How you can support a positive body image:

Avoid negative comments about your body and others’

Talk about what bodies can do rather than what they look like

Avoid talking about diets and labeling food as good or bad

Avoid mentions of thin, fat, skinny, etc.

Talk about being healthy and happy as opposed to size

Try saying body positive or body neutral affirmations

A list of body neutral affirmations can be found here.

Surprising Ways Alcohol Can Affect Your Body

Believe it or not there are negative and positive effects that alcohol can have on your body. The key differences are what you drink and how much you drink.

Here are some of the negative effects drinking can have on your health when drinking excessively:

  • High blood pressure
  • Weakening of the immune system
  • Learning and memory issues
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Ulcers and gastrointestinal problems
  • Heart disease
  • Pancreatitis
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage
  • Malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies
  • Liver disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Digestive problems
  • Certain cancers, including breast cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and rectum
  • It can even cause sudden death if you already have cardiovascular disease

Short term negative effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Severe dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion

Here are some positive effects drinking can have on your health when drinking moderately:

  • Can reduce risk of heart disease
  • Can reduce risk of ischemic stroke
  • Possibility of reducing diabetes
  • Can prevent kidney stones by using the restroom more (although drinking too much can cause dehydration which would increase the risk of kidney stones)
  • Can make you more social and effect mental health
  • A few drinks a week may make you less likely to get Alzheimer’s
  • Can balance your blood sugar

The key, as with most things, is moderation. If you consume alcohol already in a moderate amount, you can more than likely continue your consumption. If you excessively consume alcohol, you may need to cut back. As always, talk to your doctor to see what is right for you and your health & safety.

A Message for Overthinkers

If you are an overthinker, you know how consuming and tiring it can get. Overthinking can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression. Luckily, there are certain things you can do to help you manage your overthinking. Here are some of the things I have found useful in managing my overthinking:

Scheduling time for overthinking:

This might sound odd, but it’s almost impossible to not overthink at all, especially when you are an overthinker. Try setting a time slot for yourself every day to allow your mind to wander about everything you have in your head. A good timeframe would be 15-30 minutes. Once that time is done, put those thoughts on pause and focus on the rest of your day.

Decide what you can and cannot control:

Breaking everything down into two parts, what you can and cannot control, will help you with the section above. Knowing what you can control will help you sort out your thoughts and make it easier to come up with solutions for them. Then you will be left with what you cannot control and it can help you work to let go.

Changing your perspective:

Turning the negatives into positives can be helpful in getting through things too. If you are thinking something like, “I hate that I overthink everything” you can reframe it to think, “this is something I struggle with but I can actively work on changing this habit.” Or if you think, “I won’t get through this” you can reframe it to think, “this might be difficult but I will figure it out and get through it.”

Exercise your mind to train it:

Focus on what your attention is going to and shift where it goes. If you have an intrusive thought, you can write it down. If you are starting to overthink, regain your senses by looking at what is around you. By purposely shifting your focus repeatedly when you are overthinking, you are training your mind to shift that focus each time you overthink.

Things You Need to Hear Today

Some days are harder than others. Here are some things you may need to hear today:

  • If you’re worried that you’ll be stuck in this rut, here is your sign it will get better
  • Trust your intuition
  • Not everyone and everything you lose is a loss
  • Some things that didn’t work out, really did work out
  • A healthy relationship should compliment you, not complete you
  • You have to know when to let shit go
  • Be honest with yourself
  • Start giving yourself the credit you deserve
  • Remind yourself that you do not have to be in control of everything
  • Do something nice for yourself today and everyday
  • Be proud of everything you have accomplished
  • If you’re scared to start, take small steps first
  • Release what has released you
  • There is so much waiting for you
  • You shouldn’t have to beg to be loved correctly
  • It’s time to declutter your space, mind, and time
  • Prioritize yourself
  • Be original and be okay with that
  • You are not a failure
  • You matter
  • Trust your own process
  • Someone is glad that you exist
  • Doing your best will look differently every day
  • Make things happen
  • Forgiveness does not require reconnection
  • We’re rooting for you

How Anxiety Affects Your Thinking

When you get anxiety it can cause all of your rational thinking to go out the window. You start to convince yourself that the worst is happening. Have you ever wondered why that is?

Anxiety can weaken the connection between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex in your brain. Normally, the prefrontal cortex is the part of your brain that kicks in and helps rationalize situations and come up with logical responses. It is the problem solver. And when you have anxiety, once the amygdala (the part of your brain that deals with emotions and moods) sends a danger alert to your prefrontal cortex, the connection is not as strong as it would be in a non-anxious brain. So, it leads to irrational thoughts.

When you consistently deal with anxiety, your amygdala actually gets larger. It notices all potential dangers and when it does, it sends a signal to the hypothalamus (the fight or flight response we have). Since it is larger in people with anxiety, it can also be hypersensitive. It can send “false alarms” which cause you to believe there are threats, even in non-threatening situations.

While your body is being sent into fight or flight mode, your central nervous system is filled with adrenaline and cortisol hormones by your brain. They alert your body that something is about to happen. In doing so, your reflexes become faster and your senses are heightened. When these stress hormones are excessively used, your base level of anxiety can increase. Meaning if you have mild anxiety, it can cause you to have moderate anxiety and so on.

Recognizing these things are so important. When you understand the logic behind it and how it works, it can become easier for you to recognize as it is happening. When you are becoming anxious, understand that your brain and your nervous system are doing these things, and it can help you rationalize why you are reacting this way. Once you can rationalize it, you will be able to redirect your thoughts.

Should You Ditch Dry Shampoo?

Did you know that most dry shampoos contain propellants, abrasives, absorbents, preservatives, and chemicals used for fragrance? Many of these ingredients contain potentially harmful properties such as octoxynol-10, benzyl salicylate, cetrimonium chloride, talc, propane, and butane. These can cause potential harm when in contact with your skin, eyes, or when they are inhaled.

Most of us know it is not good to wash your hair too often, so we go for the dry shampoos to get us through a few more days without washing it. Since most dry shampoos can potentially cause harm, there are a few natural alternatives. Some of those alternatives include:

  • Organic cocoa powder
  • Organic cornstarch
  • Natural hemp sheets
  • Arrowroot
  • Oatmeal and baking soda

You Become Who You Needed

I saw a post the other day that really resonated with me. It read, “The healer also needs healing. The planner also needs surprises. The giver also needs to receive. The thoughtful also needs to be thought of. The considerate also needs to be considered.” It made me realize that people often give what they need.

People give others extra of what they are missing from their own lives. If you pay attention, you might see that the friends who make the most jokes are often the saddest. The family that is there for you the most, often has to handle things on their own. The people who give you the most reassurance, often feel a lack of security.

People do this because they know what it feels like to lack these things. Your funny friend knows what it’s like to be sad, so they do everything they can to make others laugh and be happy. Your family knows what the weight of the world on their shoulders feels like so they are there to help you carry that weight. The people giving reassurance know what it’s like to wonder where they stand with people. People know what it feels like to have a lack of love, empathy, reassurance, happiness, healing, etc. in their lives and would do anything to help others not feel that same pain.

Ultimately, you become the person who you needed to help you when no one did.

Causes of Mental Health Problems

There are many reasons why someone may be struggling with their mental health. For some, it is an ongoing thing, while for others it may be short-term. Even if your mental health has been improving lately, it is normal to have harder days mixed in.

Here are some common causes of mental health problems:

  • Stressful situations
  • Medical conditions
  • Life changes
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Drug abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Long-term stress
  • Loneliness
  • Childhood trauma
  • Neglect
  • Losing someone
  • Abuse
  • Working in a stressful environment
  • Not getting enough rest
  • Traumatic events
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits
  • Negative thoughts

If you are struggling with mental health problems, try reaching out to a trusted friend or family member. You may also want to consider therapy or talking to your doctor.

Toxic Positivity

So what is toxic positivity? It is the belief that no matter what the situation is, you should keep a positive mindset. It is a dysfunctional approach to managing your emotions. It involves dismissing any negative feelings you have by giving yourself false reassurance as opposed to giving yourself empathy. Many people do this because they are uncomfortable with negative emotions and are not sure how to handle them. 

It can be pretending you are happy when you are not, avoiding negative feelings, forcing yourself to get over things when you aren’t ready, and so much more. Here are some examples of toxic positivity and what you can say instead to avoid it:

Managing Spring Allergies

Allergy season is typically from February until summer. About 1/5 of people suffer from some kind of allergy- intensity varies from person to person. There are a lot of things you can try, ranging from natural remedies to over the counter medications, to prescribed allergy shots. 

Here is a list of things that can help you manage your spring allergies without needing a prescription:

  • Allergy medication
  • Nasal spray
  • Closing windows
  • Cleaning vents
  • Replacing air filters
  • Get an air purifier
  • Rinse your sinuses- only use distilled water
  • Take apple cider vinegar
  • Consume local raw honey
  • Wash your face and your hair
  • Avoid excess time outside
  • Increase vitamin C intake
  • Maintain a good Zinc level
  • Butterbur tea
  • Lemons
  • Ginger 
  • Check the pollen counts before going outside
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses to help keep pollen off your face and out of your eyes
  • Shower immediately after being outside to help reduce the impact