It is possible to manage body image anxiety
Many people who got stuck at their homes due to the coronavirus epidemic began to experience mental difficulties related to body image and struggle with this situation. In studies conducted on adults abroad, it was seen that emotional eating increased and unwanted weight changes were experienced due to the pandemic life. Stating that there are things that can be done to manage body image anxiety, Psychiatrist Dr. Alişan Burak Yaşar gave advice.
The stress of the pandemic has caused many people to turn to other coping mechanisms that can be harmful to both their physical and mental health. Looking at studies with adults abroad, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council-supported COLLATE project, and a study of 5,469 adults in Australia, it has been noted that 35 percent of the participants increased their binge eating or they ate large amounts of food in a short time due to the pandemic life. In another survey study conducted by the Italian Ministry of Health on 365 adults in 2 stages, the data shared that emotional eating increased in 25.7 percent of the participants during the quarantine.
The most recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll in the US in February was with 3,000 adults. According to the result, 61 percent of the participants stated that they had experienced undesirable weight changes since the beginning of the pandemic. Making evaluations on the subject, from Istanbul Gelisim University Psychiatrist Dr. Alişan Burak Yaşar pointed out that during the coronavirus period, stress-related difficulties in body image have changed, as in many mental disorders.
THERE ARE MANY DISEASES RELATED TO BODY PERCEPTION DISORDERStating that there are many diseases related to body image disorder, Dr. Yaşar said, “In diseases such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, which are in the eating disorder group, people can be disturbed by the idea of seeing themselves as overweight, disliking themselves, and thinking 'I should lose more weight' when they look in the mirror, even though they are underweight or remain below healthy averages according to their body mass index. Sometimes this can go as far as doing very intense sports, cutting back from eating or drinking, or trying to make oneself vomit. In such cases, there are various treatment methods.”
“What people pay attention to determines what particular folds of the brain work. This is about other human relationships and how we perceive the outside world with the attention filter of our brain” said Dr. Yaşar and continued his words as follows:
“Whatever we look at, we see it thinner. The mind necessarily ignores other parts and leaves them behind. Especially in the pandemic, as people lead their lives at home, in limited areas and in a process where face-to-face communication decreases, their attention inevitably began to be more about themselves and their bodies. They focused on the inner points. It had positive aspects as well as stressful aspects. When there is stress, and with the increase of stress, such anxieties and symptoms related to mental disorders also increase. We know that as stress increases, exacerbation is quite normal in many diseases that we call psychiatric syndromes.”
WAYS TO MANAGE BODY PERCEPTION ANXIETYUnderlining that communicating with people who are good for the person is a good healing strategy, Dr. Yaşar said, “In such cases, even looking at the broad scientific background, we can summarize: Human is the medicine for human! Human heals human. Therefore, it would be good to chat with people who are good for us as much as possible, smile more and communicate more with them. Attention training is given in the applications of some psychotherapy methods. Sometimes trainings are given to focus on the moment of eating an apricot, an application is made to pay attention to the transition process of the apricot in the mouth for 5-10 minutes. In this way, attention and staying in the moment exercises are practiced. This is staying in the moment. Being able to give oneself to what is, to our current perceptions... There are many things our body does when it moves. We do not notice most of them. Therefore, being able to pay attention to all that is happening in the moment will enable us to take some distance from the thoughts that cause us anxiety, and make room for our senses by staying in the moment, as it will make those folds of the brain work. It is necessary to be a little more careful about where we focus our attention."
Stating that activities such as sports and meditation are also valuable for anxiety management, Dr. Yaşar said, “Today, some types of sports are very valuable to manage anxiety. In meditation and yoga practices, we develop our ability to stay in the moment, shift and expand attention. We can recommend such daily supportive activities in mild cases, and various psychiatric treatments such as psychotherapy or drug therapy in moderately severe cases. To put it simply, paying more attention and spending time with the environment that is good for us is very valuable in mild mental difficulties. Of course, this is still a difficult task.”