Nurturing a positive body image: 10 practical tips

Navigating university life can sometimes bring about challenges to our self-esteem and body image. Amidst the academic demands, social pressures, and personal growth, building and maintaining a positive body image becomes a powerful act of self-love and self-care.

Here are some practical tips to help you foster a positive body image and celebrate your unique self.

  1. Prioritise self-kindness
    University life can be stressful but remember to treat yourself with kindness. Replace self-criticism with self-compassion. Imagine talking to yourself as you would to a dear friend.
  2. Focus on movement that’s right for you
    When we exercise for pleasure, strength, and accomplishment, and manage to separate movement from obsession or body image, we can get so much out of it. If you can learn to move in a way that’s right for you, because it makes you feel good, you will likely experience an uptick in psychological wellbeing as a result.
  3. Curate a positive circle
    Surround yourself with friends who uplift and inspire you. Unfollow social media accounts that promote unrealistic beauty standards. Connect with individuals who value diversity and celebrate different body types.
  4. Challenge beauty norms
    Recognize that media often portrays unrealistic beauty ideals. Challenge these norms by seeking out content that celebrates diversity and authenticity. Embrace your unique features and redefine what beauty means to you.
  5. Practice gratitude for your body
    Shift the narrative from criticism to gratitude. Focus on what your body can do – its strength, resilience, and ability to experience life's pleasures. Engaging in activities you love can foster a sense of appreciation.

  6. Self-care rituals
    Craft self-care routines that make you feel confident and empowered. Whether it's a skincare regimen, dressing in a way that resonates with your style, or engaging in hobbies, prioritize activities that boost your self-esteem.
  7. Mindful reflection
    Practice mindfulness by gently redirecting negative thoughts about your body. Pause and ask if these thoughts are helpful. Replace them with affirming and positive affirmations.
  8. Seek support when needed
    If negative body image impacts your well-being, consider seeking guidance from a professional. University counselling services can provide valuable tools to navigate these challenges.
  9. Embrace progress, not perfection
    Building a positive body image takes time. Progress may not always be linear, and that's okay. Each step forward is a victory. Celebrate every moment of self-acceptance.
  10. If you can’t be positive, work towards neutrality. 
    We don’t need to be defined by our bodies. Our lives are rich, interesting, and multifaceted in a way that is largely unrelated to what sort of body we exist in, or whether or not we are conventionally attractive. Using the strategies above, such as challenging negative body talk, critiquing media that tells you appearance is everything, and focusing on what your body can do, rather than what it looks like, may help you become more neutral.  

University is a time of discovery and growth, and your journey toward body positivity can be an empowering aspect of this experience. Embrace your uniqueness, nourish your body, and foster a deep sense of self-love. By practicing these tailored tips, you're nurturing the foundation for a confident and positive relationship with your body that will serve you well beyond your university years.

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Last updated:
4 September 2023