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Capturing Joy: Holiday Photos When Struggling With Poor Body Image

The Holidays are here and loved ones are near, but how is this impacting your body image and eating disorder recovery journey? Let's chat about how we can navigate the Holidays and capture confidence this year.

Capturing the Moment

If you're struggling with body image, this can be a challenging time of the year. Between in-person social interactions like office parties, catching up with old friends, and seeing distant relatives, you may be hyperfixating on your body and experiencing some body distress.

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You play the dirty santa, see old and new faces, and enjoy some tasty eggnog. You've made it through the event and realize that you really enjoyed the time spent with others! Maybe you met a new friend, created some new memories, shared old stories, laughed till you cried, and captured some enjoyable moments.

But here comes the moment where they want to capture the event with a picture . . .

Depending on where you are on your body image journey, this can be a difficult situation to navigate. Do you say cheese or volunteer to take the picture so you don't have to be in it? Do you disappear to the bathroom in hopes nobody notices your absence?

What should you do in this moment?? If you're able, our treatment team encourages you to embrace the moment as well as your body by being in the pictures that include the memories you want to capture.

By being present in the moment and the pictures, you're able to work on building body comfort and maybe even some confidence. Try to get good lighting, stand by those you love, and embrace an angle you're comfortable with.

Instead of focusing on your perceptual body image try to focus on the heartfelt memories, the joy, the laughter, the aromas, and the environment of this event. Reminding yourself that how you perceive your body is not always accurate and only your view of the situation.

Dr. Lindsay and Dr. Lexi said it best, "your body is not an instrument". Try to keep that in mind when capturing these moments, there is so much more to you than your appearance.

By embracing this mindset, we can create a safe space for all bodies to feel welcomed and comfortable. Not everyone looks like the edited influencers online (not even the influencers themselves) and we don't need to! Everyone has a different genetic makeup and unique bodies that deserve to take up space.

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If you print out these pictures, try writing the memories down on the backside. This can help you shift your focus from appearance to being more present in the moment shared with others. Can you jot down something that brought you joy, laughter, or a smile? You may look back one day and be grateful for that moment captured in time.

Grounding in the Moment

If you experience a lot of heightened emotions after seeing the photo, we encourage you to engage in some grounding techniques. Try to separate yourself from the situation and practice some deep breathing, find a stress ball, or walk through the

5-4-3-2-1 coping technique.

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It's important to note that grounding techniques vary depending on the individual and the situation, so practice what feels best for you and your needs. We explore more coping skills and grounding techniques in our body image workbook!

Although these emotions can bring distress in the moment, try to remember that they won't necessarily stay with you forever. You may look back at these pictures and feel neutral or even happy in the future. Research has shown us that thoughts around body image can actually change within 2 minutes, so keep that in mind with pictures.

If you find yourself hyper-fixating on the picture, try to store it somewhere that you don't have as much access to. For example, moving it from your phone to a saved drive on your computer or flash drive. Maybe ask a loved one to hold on to them until you're ready to see them again.

Mirror Challenge

In our body image workbook, Redefining Confidence From Within, we walk clients through the mirror challenge. This can be a helpful exercise in forming body neutrality, peace, and possibly body positivity. If you're in a safe environment, we encourage you to try this challenge and see what comes up for you. Exploring the mirror challenge can be a helpful way to decrease negative body image thoughts that may come up from pictures while making space for more neutral ones.

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We hope that this activity was helpful for you and serves as a strong tool to build body neutrality during these challenging times. We also recognize that this exposure can be difficult to do alone and encourage you to explore it with a provider if able. Our body image workbook consists of various aspects related to body image, with the hope of helping others heal their relationship with mind, body, and soul. For more information on the workbook and clinician led E-course, click here.

Our treatment team wishes you and your loved ones a gentle Holiday! We encourage you to capture sweet moments and memories, redefine what photos capture, and make strives towards your healing journey. If you're looking for a team to help you reach those intentions, feel free to reach out for a chat.

With Pearls of Wisdom, Eden & Kira

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