People may think of summer and look forward to the idea of the warm weather, barbeques, holidays, parties, and time with loved ones. Yet, for others, summer can bring about a great deal of apprehension. Especially when having to decide on what clothes to wear and how they look on their body.

In winter, you can hide your body under layers of clothes, but this isn’t something you can comfortably do in summer, especially in Malta. If you struggle with body anxiety, then summer fashion can be distressing and may even lead to you missing out on events or meeting up with people.

Some people may manage to overcome the anxiety when surrounded by loved ones who provide reassurance, but this isn’t the case for everyone and for others this may not be enough. This anxiety can lead people to isolate during the summer and let go of things they once loved doing due to feeling self-conscious. This isolation will in turn cause even more anxiety and may even cause people to feel depressed.

The below are some ways people can reduce the effects of body anxiety:

1. Reduce media consumption 

Reducing the amount of social media you consume can be vital to combating body anxiety. Often what people put on social media is unrealistic. There are a lot of camera tricks and editing magic online that do not reflect reality and are impossible to physically achieve, even for the people in the pictures! This is not helpful when you are uncomfortable with your body, seeing posts of ‘perfect’ (no such thing) bodies are not going to make you want to whip out the bikini. 

2. Focus on positive aspects of summer 

This may be time off work, a holiday abroad, spending time with friend, longer days, shorter work hours or even a particular event that brings you joy. Be it an artist or a festival, there are aspects of summer that can bring you joy that have nothing to do with what you wear or how you look. Focusing on how these events make you feel and the company you keep can help you feel more confident being out and about in the sun. 

3. Exercise and eat healthy

Now, the idea of this is not focusing on weight loss but the idea of feeling good about yourself. When you exercise you release ‘feel good’ hormones that can leave you feeling more energised and confident, which is a huge component in how comfortable you feel with your body and in your clothes. Eating healthy foods is also a great way to look after yourself and put your best foot forward.

4. Don’t be so hard on yourself

Often, we are our own worst critics. That particular area of your body you obsess over, most of the time people will be unaware of – everyone is wrapped up in their own issues to be looking at the one very specific thing you are self-conscious of. Be kind to yourself and understand we all have something that we dislike and once again there is no such thing as perfect. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.

Stef Gafa’ is a counsellor with Willingness who has a particular interest in trauma, attachment, domestic violence, and the LGBT community.