Quarantine during the coronavirus pandemic has introduced a minefield of mental health challenges, even for individuals who have not experienced mental health issues in the past. Body image is one area where many people are currently struggling, and that’s only worsened by nearly constant negative messages that flood social media feeds (I’m looking at you “Quarantine 15”).

Here are some helpful strategies you can use to boost your self-esteem and avoid toxic thinking about your weight and your body.

1. Prioritize self-care over self-criticism.

It may seem like everyone is feeling a little fragile about their bodies right now, so there are messages everywhere about the pitfalls of quarantine baking, the devastating effects of gym closures, and other potential causes of weight gain. It’s easy to get in your own head about gaining a few pounds or eating more junk food than usual. However, instead of focusing on self-criticism, try indulging in more self-care. In moments when you’re feeling particularly anxious or sensitive to body image negativity, take the time to do something for yourself—have a bath, enjoy a delicious meal, meditate—simply do something that feels good and is good for you.

2. Take a break from social media.

Social media may feel like a lifeline to the outside world, but it can also be a toxic environment. Metering your time on social media apps or taking an extended break can be therapeutic. You might also think about pruning the list of influencers and individuals you follow. Look for those who spread messages of positivity and wellness.

3. Be kind to yourself.

We tend to be harder on ourselves than others. For example, if a friend gained a few pounds, you wouldn’t likely insult their weight. Yet, it is all too easy to beat ourselves up for the same change. Change your inner monologue and talk to yourself like you would a close friend. Even more importantly, don’t beat yourself up for small splurges or even relapses toward disordered eating behaviors.

4. Utilize virtual resources.

While traditional resources for mental health, disordered eating, and weight management are limited, there are many telehealth options currently available. You may also find support groups, educational resources, and wellness apps available in the virtual space, so that you can regain control over your body image.

MeMD can help you break the pattern of negativity and self-criticism that might feel all too natural during the pandemic. Reach out to us to get in touch with a mental health professional over the web in as little as 24 hours.

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