On a college campus, the time between New Year’s and Spring Break can be a vulnerable one for students who struggle with body image issues or disordered eating. In our culture, it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of resolutions to lose weight or change our bodies in other ways in preparation for vacations or other life events. Food and workout plans, cleanses, and other miracle diet products make false promises and a diet can quickly snowball into an obsessive pattern of behaviors that can negatively impact well-being and mental health.
Regardless of your destination over Spring Break, here are some tips that can help you shift your mindset and take good care of yourself:
Remember the WHY of what you are doing--making lasting memories, recharging, helping your community, or connecting with friends or family. There is no rule that says only perfect bodies get to enjoy these things. Put your phone down and just BE.
Make a gratitude list for your body, celebrating all that it does for you every day. The mind is like a bloodhound. If you tell it to track and find your flaws, it will do so obediently and diligently. Start looking for your strengths instead!
If you anticipate seeing family or friends who are likely to comment on your body, prepare a few comebacks ahead of time. Try something like “My weight is the least interesting thing about me,” “I am happy just the way I am,” or “My body is none of your business.” See what feels right for you. Having a comment in your back pocket can help lessen anxiety because you know you won’t be caught off-guard.
If you will be drinking, do so mindfully. Don’t skip meals to save calories for alcohol. Your body needs you to you keep it well fed and hydrated. Download the Stay in the Blue app to make sure you are partying safely!
Keep an eye on your friends. If someone looks like they are struggling, offer support and encourage them to show up and connect. Shift the focus away from being “Instagram ready” to the quality time you are spending together.
Want to learn more? Check out Wolverine Wellness (https://www.uhs.umich.edu/wolverine-wellness)
Additionally, CAPS at UM is participating in a nationwide program, called The Body Project, that works to challenge unrealistic feminine beauty ideals and promote body acceptance and activism. The peer-led sessions are currently open to all undergraduate women.
For more information on The Body Project, visit www.bodyprojectsupport.org or email Patty O'Malley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Contributed by Kellie Carbone - Wellness Coach and Adjunct Lecturer in LSA.