Body image issues on the rise during pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS — You’ve likely heard of the “quarantine15,” the “quarantine16,” even the “quarantine 20.”

Since the pandemic began, many people have taken to social media to talk about how being stuck at home more has led to a swelling of their waistlines. For the most part the revelations are all in good fun, used to commiserate, or make light of a very common thing many of us go through.

But for some, it’s having a serious mental health impact.

Since the pandemic started more and more people have been reporting that they have been struggling with issues surrounding negative body image. Feelings that are also being linked with increase stress, anxiety, and depression. Researchers say various lockdowns and a decrease in human interaction are playing a role in these feelings. People are also bombarded with images of the “standard of beauty non-stop, whether it be on social media, magazines, or television. With so much uncertainty surrounding when the pandemic will end, it’s problem that likely isn’t going away soon.

CBS4 spoke to Erica Ballard, a healthy living expert on how much a mindset can affect us physically.

“We see it create chronic stress, which then leads to chronic inflammation, which then leads to heart disease, and obesity and all the things we don’t want. We also see when we think negative thoughts, particularly around our body image and gaining weight, your body actually activates what your mind wants. So, even though you’re consciously sitting there saying ‘I want to lose 10 pounds,’ subconsciously you’re saying, ‘I can never do it, I’m always going to gain weight, it doesn’t work for me.’ It doesn’t matter how much work you put in because your body will follow those subconscious thoughts,” she said.

Ballard added that getting out of that mind view is a long, difficult process that begins with setting small, simple goals.

“Pick the small things, do that. Then the second step to that is nail it. Get really good at it. Confidence in your self will create a habit, and habits create more habits. So if you’re able to nail one, you can then use that momentum and confidence to build another habit, its snowballs, then all of the sudden six months from now you’re like ‘hey I’m doing all the things that I want to do and it wasn’t that hard,” she said.

Ballard adds its also important to ask yourself what is your individual standard of beauty and why?

She also says it’s important to prepare for setbacks in any journey because health isn’t about individual acts, rather a lifestyle.

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