Published on July 18, 2022

How Your Physical Appearance Can Affect Your Mental Health

by Psych Times Staff

The way we look and feel about our bodies has a huge impact on the way we think. We can internalize all kinds of negative attitudes about ourselves without even realizing; indeed, we can be harsher on ourselves than we can on anyone else. And it’s this relationship between the mind and body that should never be underestimated

After all, what goes on in our heads is very much at the core of who we are, and if you don’t rate your physical appearance, that feedback loop can become incredibly harmful. As such, we’ve listed below some of the most common ways your physical appearance can affect your mental health, and vice versa – how we feel about the way we look is never a one way street. 

You Can Feel Intense Anxiety Over a Perceived ‘Flaw’

The power of the human mind can be a double edged sword. We can do wondrous things with our minds! But if you think negatively about your body, your thoughts may have you convinced that a body ‘flaw’ is ten times worse than it actually is. 

This is especially true when you’re living with skin conditions. The way you feel about it often leads to ‘catastrophizing’. And while there may be a physical difference in psoriasis vs. eczema, the ensuing mental effect can be exactly the same: you’re stressed out and overwhelmed! 

And how much these conditions can lead you to scratch, which can lead to further redness around the affected areas, tops off the cycle and continues to make you feel terrible about your body. But it’s not a flaw to have a skin condition; around 15 million people in the USA alone are living with eczema, so you’re not alone in feeling these troubles. 

You Can Feel the Need to Isolate Yourself Away From Others

If you have a low body image, it can be easy to turn down social engagements and stay indoors as much as possible. Maybe you don’t want others to see you and you can’t stop thinking about the way you might look to others? It’s a common concern for people with low self esteem and body dysmorphia. 

And the anxiety arising from these hypothetical thoughts is one thing, but the fact that you’re not getting out and talking to others can have a huge impact on the way you feel.

Even when you’re introverted, being able to have friendly chats with people just on the way to work or the shops makes all the difference in how good your day is. It’s a quick and simple boost, but an issue with your physical appearance can prevent you from feeling the benefit. 

You Can Refuse to Get Close to Your Partner

Being intimate in a relationship can have a lot of different troubles, but one of the most common is a couple not being on the same page about body image and expectations. If you’re in a romantic relationship, there’s often very little your partner can say to you that will beat the way your own thoughts circle around your body image. 

And that can be incredibly damaging in the long run. You can feel uncomfortable getting close to the person you love, and may often think of them thinking of you in a derogatory way. However, this is once again all hypothetical! But a low self esteem can prevent you from realizing that. 

But it’s Not Impossible to Turn Things Around

Even with all the issues listed above, it’s not impossible to turn things around and start feeling good about yourself again. And a lot of it is outside influence! If you’re constantly scrolling through Instagram and comparing yourself to people you see online, it’s only natural you’ll start to feel bad about the way you look. 

So delete the app, and start with self tolerance. Admit your body is normal, and no better or worse than any other. It’s a good way to build up from a strong foundation and feel good in the mirror again. 

Your physical appearance can often ‘get you down’. However, these thoughts can be put into your head by what you see around you. That’s the biggest thing we have to beat when it comes to body acceptance and maintaining good mental health! The way you look isn’t everything you are, and knowing how deep the relationship between the mental and the physical goes can help you to reassess what you think when looking in the mirror.

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