When you have a chronic health condition like diabetes, it’s not always easy to feel beautiful. After all, watching nearly every morsel you put in your mouth, monitoring your blood sugar several times a day, keeping your weight down and maybe wearing a pump can make any woman body-conscious. Unfortunately, 30% to 40% of teenage girls and young women with type 1 diabetes will develop an eating disorder, according to the American Diabetes Association. Poor body image can also lead to anxiety and depression—and that can make it even more challenging to manage your diabetes.
If you feel diabetes is taking a bite out of your body confidence, try these everyday ways to face the world looking and feeling beautiful:
Put your eyes to work. Next discussion you have, maintain eye contact the entire time. Your conversation partner will perceive you as relaxed and self-confident, which will also put them at ease. The bonus: All those good vibes will be reflected back to you.
Keep a compliment list. Half the time, you probably don’t register those passing remarks: “Nice scarf!” “That’s a great color on you!” “Where did you get those earrings!” “Mom, you make the best cookies!” Starting today, tune into each one and write it down. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the compliments add up. Don’t worry that the exercise will make you arrogant. Rather, it will boost your confidence in who you are and how much you’ve done in life.
Stand (and sit) up straight. Good posture not only helps you look taller and thinner, it also helps you believe in yourself. In an Ohio State University study, participants who wrote statements about themselves while sitting upright were more likely to give credence to what they wrote than did those who were slumping.
Surround yourself with smiles. Being greeted with a warm smile can help you feel better about yourself, according to a study. Pay attention to the friends and the family members who bring you down, and to those who build you up, and make more time for the latter. The result can be improved self-esteem.
RAIN in your negative thinking. Here’s how it works: Recognize hurtful thoughts: “My arms are so fat.” Acknowledge your distress: “I can never wear anything sleeveless again!” Investigate your thinking: “Do my arms really make me who I am?” Do Not identify with the thoughts: “It’s ridiculous to think anyone is judging me because of my arms!” Bonus: For good measure, practice self-compassion: “I have a lot to offer.”
Use your body in a new way. Take a stab at kick-boxing. Learn a new dance step. Play ping-pong. Or just try flipping an omelet. Pick something you can master, so you can experience the satisfaction of nailing something and knowing that your body—the one you have right now—didn’t let you down.
Start walking (or swimming or going to Zumba). Physical activity is a sure-fire body-image booster, according to a meta-analysis of studies examining the link between exercise and body image, published in the journal Psychology and Health. As long as your healthcare provider says it’s okay, begin with a 10- or 15-minute walk most days of the week and build from there.
If you have prolonged self-esteem issues, talk with your healthcare provider. They may suggest that you speak with a mental health care professional.