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Can Gratitude Improve Your Body Image?

Do you ever wish you could feel better about your body? I mean, who doesn’t, right? “Feeling fat” can ruin an entire day, take your focus off work, and even make it harder to make good food and exercise choices.

What if there was a simple way to improve your body image?

Well, it’s possible that being grateful for other things in your life may also help you appreciate your body, and one reason this might happen is that being grateful may lessen body dissatisfaction.

A recent study showed that that when a group of female college students were asked to spend five minutes writing down the hassles in their life and were shown a slide show of thin, attractive female models, their body dissatisfaction increased. However, when another group of these women were asked to spend five minutes writing down what they were grateful for and shown the same images, their body dissatisfaction decreased, back to levels of those in a third group, who were not shown any images of thin women, but rather, neutral images (such as an egg).

I’m probably simplifying the overall message here, but it appears that feeling good and being grateful also makes you feel better about your body.

Although this study has limitations (they all do), expressing gratitude is easy, free, and doesn’t take up much time. Why not give it a try and see what it does for your body image?

Four Ways to Practice Gratitude

  1. Make a list. When you’re feeling happy one day, take pen to paper and write down every single thing you can think of for which you’re grateful. It could be practical (I’m grateful that I have electricity), it could be silly (I’m grateful the Pats won this year), it could be about your body (I’m grateful I have sight), or it could be about your friends or family (I’m grateful for my three kids). Keep writing and writing until you’ve made an exhaustive list. That way, if you have a tough day, you can simply look at what you’ve written and get a quick burst of gratitude.
  2. Make it a habit. Pick a time to practice gratitude every day. Maybe every morning when you wake up, name three things for which you’re grateful. Or perhaps as you drift off to sleep each night you’ll name as many things as you can that make you feel thankful. Maybe you just make it a weekend thing: every Sunday night you think about everything that happened over the past week for which you’re thankful.
  3. Make it a family activity. Go around the table at dinner every night and have everyone list at least three things they’re thankful for. Or, if you have creative kids, have them draw a picture everything for which they’re grateful (you can do it, too, if you’re so inclined). Seeing their gratitude will probably make you feel even more thankful.
  4. Make a gratitude collage. No scissors or glue sticks are even necessary for this activity, if that’s not your thing! Go online and find images of things you’re feeling especially thankful about and pull them all into one document and arrange them in a pleasing way, or, if you’re a Pinterest user, just make a new “gratitude” board and keep adding to it regularly, with whatever you’re feeling grateful for at the moment. Update it regularly and look at it whenever you need a boost.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.