Approach PR MD Suzanne’s daughter Melissa looks into the key theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

We’re coming towards the end of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week and this year the theme is Body Image – #BeBodyKind

As a young woman, I am certainly no stranger to the pressures exerted by those two words. But neither am I naive to my apparent isolation in this section of mental health. Body image is a struggle faced by everyone, no matter their age, gender, size or sexuality.

How does social media affect this?

And, of course, arguably the biggest source of this pressure is social media. It’s difficult to contest this when we are surrounded by worlds of edited perfection. Not to forget, the conditional affection presented by ‘likes’, often dictating our own feelings of self-worth. This is particularly evident when it comes to the way we feel about our bodies.

But, no matter how hard we work to regulate the fluctuations in our worthiness, we can often never seem to reach total comfort regarding a relationship with our own bodies. It’s like the goal-posts are constantly moving. It’s very easy to blame this on social media. After all, we are chasing a false state of perfection fed by a world of editing apps and filters. However, most of the time, it’s actually us moving the goal posts. We enter a cycle of perpetual dissatisfaction with our own self-image. We’re constantly striving for something more and never looking back on what we have achieved.

So even when you take away the external influences on our perception of ourselves, we would still feel as if we had to be something more. And this doesn’t just apply to our bodies, but our abilities as well. How many times do you find yourself in a situation you believe you don’t belong in, despite being fully qualified to be there? We have fallen into a culture of constantly wanting more from ourselves, in our lifestyles and careers as well as our bodies.

How can we change?

If we spent as much time and energy congratulating ourselves on our achievements as we do beating ourselves up over our mistakes, I believe we would feel a monumental shift in our mindset. We seem to be living in a culture where self-confidence and self-worth are interchanged with arrogance. This leads to an unhealthy mind-frame where constantly tearing ourselves down becomes a positive social action. If we allowed ourselves to feel more confident and proud, we would see a change in our self-perception. This is something that would extend to our relationships with others, our work and our body image.

And the workplace is a great place to start. Acknowledging when we have achieved something, no matter how small, spurs us onto the next in a much more positive way than simply striving for perfection. It’s so important that we stop marching relentlessly forward. We must take time to stop and look back, allowing ourselves to actually see where we have come. It not only allows us to gain perspective on our current situation, but to also allow self-congratulation at all we have achieved.

How do you think we can change our mindset on body image? Let us know at @Approach_pr!