Mental Health Awareness Week – Body image and future product spoiler hidden inside!)

MindFit

‘Body image’ is a term describing how we think and feel about our body. Our image of our bodies impacts us throughout our lives and our mental health and wellbeing.

The below excerpt is taken from the mental health foundation after an extensive report…

How does body image affect mental health?

Having body image concerns is a relatively common experience and is not a mental health problem in and of itself; however, it can be a risk factor for mental health problems. Research has found that higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviours and eating disorders.

Higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviours and eating disorders.

Conversely, body satisfaction and appreciation has been linked to better overall wellbeing and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours. Though feeling unsatisfied with our bodies and appearance is often more common among young women, body image concerns are relevant from childhood through to later life and affect both women and men.  

Body satisfaction and appreciation has been linked to better overall wellbeing and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours.

At Hence, we are not Mental Health Doctors, neither do we pretend to be so on the internet.  Instead let’s go to an area Hence can help with…

To date Hence offers a food performance supplement range, collaborations with similar brands and the usual Insta #motivationalquotes as support for athletes growing and performing(plus this GET MORE blog post! on mindset…),  so the following advice may come across as out of place for some reading this.

But in fact, this was always on the horizon for Hence, and this is the spoiler mentioned in the title into where Hence is going,

broader support to every athlete…

Coming soon - MindFit.

I (Luke) have trained in various courses and systems in this “mindset world” and had years of experience consciously focusing on improving my own.  As a financial market’s trader it’s absolutely critical I have a stable and positive mental picture. 

I’ve trained as an NLP practitioner and completed 100’s of hours in mindfulness training, growth mindset mentoring, performance courses, awareness & meditation workshops and more.  I’m very comfortable in discussing this area and sharing the tools and practices that took me from where I was to where I am today!

Help with Body Image

Applying the term mental health in personal performance as an athlete , there are a few steps to help build a base of body satisfaction for the long term and to grow appreciation that will directly impact our results and outcomes (not just in training or competition, but in life).

1.       Removing ego

2.       Positive feedback

3.       Diet and perspective of food as fuel. 

Ego

This may appear to be a pretty hard-nosed line in an area that requires a lot of empathy and caring, but lets instead think of it as taking a level of accountability, from the start. 

Consider ego to be more a structure we live by rather than the more common consideration of someone brass, arrogant or full of themselves.  An ego can be absolutely the reverse and so growth to complete removal of this personal view is critical.  Note - Removal - A realistic view of yourself is not necessary. A positive view of yourself can be helpful, but is a plaster over the growth you really want. instead removing this view you have by initially making it completely unrealistic and comically, helps move us to a more stable place long term.

How do we do?

We all have/had mental images of ourselves, body, personality, socially, in relationships etc.  These perceptions can be correct (for now) or completely misaligned, it doesn’t matter; the point is we have them.  In order to remove them (the ego) we must stop connecting with them - stop using them as reference points to what is or isn’t possible.  So, consider this exercise from NLP, it’s a lot of fun!

The nice thing about NLP in this area is it can work really, really fast! It’s also an opportunity to not take yourself too seriously!)

The alter ego – build yourself as a superhero, like that from marvel comics/superhero person.  First off, See the Superhero stood there in your imagination, chest out and cape waving in the wind as someone you truly admire (they are probably cartoon, it doesn’t matter at this point! Where else can you have this kinda fun!, than in your head!

Now, without too much thought, become that hero for 3 seconds, chest out and admired. 

How did it feel?

Repeat, fast, 5 times.  Each time adding a bit more detail to the image, look down at your superhero hands, remember that last impossible mission you completed etc.  Aim to complete the 5th time as seeing that superhero in reflection in a shop window as a way to bring home how real you can get it it, life-like. 

Notice anything?  Like how good it felt?

This is a really silly example that you might consider too childish or a waste of your time, but maybe that’s all part of the point?!?

You can leave your ego or your perceptions of yourself for good.

They hold zero value.

Positive Feedback

This is fairly simple, and its point is noticing and benefiting from the environment. 

Feedback comes in many forms and the need to notice it to use to positively is powerful.  So, it’s not about people always saying how amazing you are (although it could be) but more about noting the situation, environment or someone’s body respond to a situation - using it in a positive way.

We tend to think heavily into interactions with individuals – your coach, for example. You want to impress and prove yourself. So you take great care in every inch of feedback spoken or otherwise.  It’s almost always positive feedback (presuming they are a good coach), in so far as there could be points to improve on or you nailed it, high 5! 

This loop of feedback is naturally growth, it develops an Athlete more effectively than almost any other technique, Hence all the top Athletes having coaches! (love it when we can get Hence into a sentence!)

We are not going searching for this feedback in a way of needy self-indulgence. Instead this is confidently asking for feedback where none is given and taking all feedback, from everywhere, in the same positive way you get from your coach!

Developing a principle for feedback is important. Not just in ensuring we get it, but in correctly receiving it and using it to our benefit.

Ask for it - “if you don’t ask you don’t get”

Give it - You start giving out honest & positive feedback, you get soo much back!

Receive it – listen to it. Consider it. Someone says “you did great”, think “shit, maybe I did!”

This is your environment feeding back to you, do this enough you will notice how it’s not just people that provide the feedback…

 

Food is Fuel

Diet has a far higher impact in mental health than we give it credit. It impacts on so many levels. Not just “you are what you eat” in that you have a poor diet you do poorly but in gut health, energy levels, daily routine, time management and so on.

Treating everything you before during and after as FUEL is a way to unlock this positive impact food should have on our body image and general health.

I’ve written on this before here but effectively it’s a simpler view of diet than structured eating plans or any named diet plan, it’s simply treating everything as fuel - “will this fuel me well enough?”

Of course there has to be some level of understanding here, but the view of the food you eat should create a level of accountability alone to push in the right direction.

Again I like it because it’s so simple!

Summary

This post started out as awareness for mental health week, this year’s theme from the MHF being body image. 

We can’t really just stand by and raise awareness in this issue.

As Phil Knight’s marketing team once coined. Just do it.

It needs to be addressed – we help where we can.

Not a doctor – don’t play on the internet.