Love Doctor's Blog

Post-Pandemic Body Image Issues


The norms we were all used to have been completely changed because of 2020, and even though 2021 is more than half-way through, the consequences are still being felt and damage is still being totaled. And a lot of those consequences have come to rest on us.

Being locked up for a year – even just a few months for some – changed the way we were able to go out and do the things we loved to do. For the most part, we just couldn’t. It also impacted the dating scene. There was no safe way to consider meeting people and the whole race for dating took a backseat to more pressing concerns of personal safety.

But personal health also suffered. So many people were used to going to gyms, yoga sessions, even just taking walks was forbidden when the pandemic peaked. Those good habits had to stop so we could protect ourselves, but there was no time for new good habits to take place. It takes two weeks to form a new routine into a habit that becomes part of normal everyday life. It doesn’t take two weeks to unlearn a habit, though – it takes one bad day, and we all had at least one day like that last year.

What we discovered when our lives had to change is that change is hard. It has to come from inward. When it’s forced by outside elements the change can feel too sudden and even scary. Even adapting to new, healthy routines can feel forced and negative because of the connotation: no one is around to help or motivate you, you so you have to do it all by yourself.

Former social lives imploded. The chains of trust we form with friends and acquaintances that we see every day broke down. Without that one good friend to help you lead a healthier lifestyle a lot of us missed more than a workout or two. People who relied on other people to keep themselves healthy just couldn’t cope in time.

That’s not to mention the stress. Stress is the real lifestyle killer that throws a body into whack. It makes you search for the path of least resistance because you’re already going against this hard wall of negativity throughout the day that you can’t push back. And what’s easier at dealing with stress when you can’t go out, can’t socialize, can’t work out like you used to and can’t even go for a walk? Ice cream is easier.

Gaining weight is easier than losing it, and now that things are slowly opening up (or are they?) people are coming to terms with what their “easy destressors” have gotten them. Yes, there is definitely a body image epidemic running alongside the still very present pandemic. A lot of people have suffered from it and are looking for proper solutions.

Many are trying to return to their old routines but find it hard to get settled back in after being told to stay locked up and held back by restrictions. We traded one kind of health for another, with just as long lasting and harsh consequences. There’s no way around it: we need to get out and get back in shape.

Body positivity starts at the self. A year of change will rub off on you, and you might not like who you’ve become. There are certainly all kinds of pressures from the outside that can steer your feelings around. Cultural ideals set the baseline for acceptability and those are much harder to change. Instead of trying to satisfy others, you have to satisfy yourself first. If you fail that, then you need to know how to fix what’s wrong.

It makes total sense that the pandemic has made people more insecure in many ways. Even people who had the motivation to workout on their own and maintain the form they are comfortable with have their own dissatisfaction that they couldn’t make progress by themselves. The social losses have been the real killer. People who rely on a group of friends for support lost out the most.

Gaining newfound positivity has to start with the self. Now that we’ve had a year, distance learning and remote solutions to socialization and even at-home workout courses have been innovated and flex-tested against a highly stressful environment. A lot of people want to return to the way things were, and signs keep coming through that that just might not happen.

It’s hard to take any positives out of Covid, but if people can learn to respect themselves enough to find motivation and do more to help themselves when their friends aren’t around, that is a good thing. If you love yourself, you’ll be loved by others, so make a self that you want to love.

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