One of the fallouts of the pandemic restrictions was that we spent so much time alone – not socialising, seeing, and touching others. All of these affected how we felt about ourselves and our bodies. Here’s how to get your positivity back.

Even if we didn’t get sick, most of us don’t look as good as we did before the pandemic started. Comfort eating made us add a few kilos. We couldn’t exercise as much, so we got out of shape.

Lockdown disrupted everyday activities and changed routines. This may have left you feeling out of control, which could have influenced your eating behaviour.

Facing yourself
The National Eating Disorders Association explains body image like this. It’s how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It includes what you believe about your own appearance; how you feel about your body, including your height, shape, and weight; how you sense and control your body as you move.

During lockdown, social media was a way to pass time. Even more than before, you compared your life and your looks to that of others online.

And about those video calls: "We're not used to seeing our faces in motion all the time," said Professor Heather Widdows from Birmingham University in the UK. "Normally, we get up in the morning, do a quick ten minutes in the mirror and dash off to go about our day."

A video call is not like looking in the mirror, she continues. They produce a two-dimensional picture, unlike the three dimensions in your reflection, which makes the image more artificial.

Related article: 6 Lessons we’ve learnt from lockdown

Reclaiming your life
Routine is the keyword in many of the ways to restore your health and body image. Here are some ideas from various expert sources.

1. Have regular meals no more than four hours apart: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. This can help to control weight. Some studies found that regular meals can help you stop binge eating. Also, regular sleep and regular eating work together.

2. Eat together. Mealtime with others is a chance to connect and share. Talking about any challenges in our disrupted lives will show we're not alone and make them seem less daunting.

Related article: How to beat the bloat

3. In a recent survey, 23 percent of American women said social media has the greatest impact on how they feel about their bodies. So stop scrolling the "perfect people" for a while.

4. People with anxiety can be perfectionists about wellness. If they’re not satisfied with their health and shape, they can feel like they aren’t doing the right things or doing them right. Don’t judge yourself at mealtime or exercise time. You're doing it to feel good.

Related article: 6 South Africans who inspired us during lockdown

5. Talk to someone you trust about your body image issues. They might have similar feelings. Once again, it’s good to know you're not alone. You could have useful insights for each other as well.

6. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it.

7. Be critical of social and media messages. Take note of images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Then write to the source and protest. Click the online ad to close it and give feedback.

Touching somebody
Human beings are wired to touch and be touched. It’s "really fundamental" for humans, says Prof. Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford. Doing without it weakens our close relationships.

Touch can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. It activates the “cuddle” hormone, oxytocin, that’s critical for bonding. Research shows oxytocin also affects our general well-being.

We don’t know when social distancing won’t be necessary anymore. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading Covid expert in the US, has said he doesn’t believe people should reintroduce the handshake. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again… Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country.”

For now, get creative. Let the grandkids hug your legs. Hold hands. Do back-to-back hugs (Covid spreads through droplets, not touch). Cuddle with the pets. Even a wave works as a virtual touch.

In tough times, it’s not about what you look like. It’s about strength, positivity, and bonds with others.


HOW TO LOVE YOUR LOCKDOWN BODY HOW TO LOVE YOUR LOCKDOWN BODY Reviewed by Michelle Pienaar on March 22, 2021 Rating: 5
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