Feeling good about your body can be difficult. But learning to have a positive body image can improve your self-esteem and increase your chances of quitting for good.
How You See Yourself
Body image is how you think and feel about your body. Many people feel badly about their bodies from time to time—even people who you may think have a “perfect” body. There are many things that might cause you to have a negative body image, such as:
- Comparing yourself to other people.
- Worrying if people think you’re attractive.
- Comments about your appearance from family, friends, or strangers.
- Messages from movies, television, magazines, and social media.
Having a negative body image can hurt your confidence and can keep you from living the life you want to live. You may avoid parties, dating, going to the gym, or meeting new people. You may also start or continue unhealthy activities to help you feel better about your body, like smoking. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.
Body Image and Smoking
People sometimes gain weight after they quit smoking. This change could add to negative thoughts about your body and make you think twice about quitting. Try to remember all the positive things quitting will do for you—like improving how you look and feel. Make quitting your health priority.
When you stop smoking, negative emotions, like stress, sadness, or frustration can make you want to smoke again and may cause slips—especially for women. Feeling down about your body or being in a situation that makes you feel anxious or stressed about your body—like trying on a bathing suit or comparing yourself to others on social media—can be emotional triggers and may make you want to smoke.
I wish I had known how much strength I really had in me.
Creating a Positive Body Image
Having a positive body image means being comfortable and confident in your body. It’s seeing yourself as a whole person, instead of focusing on how you look or how much you weigh. It’s learning to accept, appreciate, and even love the parts of you that are different. This can be difficult. And it can be a lifelong process because your body goes through changes throughout your life.
Becoming body positive doesn’t happen overnight. It takes some practice to appreciate your body. Here are some things you can do to feel good about yourself:
- Think of what’s important: The next time you want to smoke because you feel badly about yourself, try thinking about the things that are important to you. What do you value? What do you want in your future? Then ask yourself how smoking could negatively affect these things. This can help you stay motivated and avoid smoking again.
- Stay positive: Try to be aware of when you have a negative thought about your body. When it happens, think of a positive quality about yourself. You can even make a list and read it to yourself in the mirror. This can help you begin to change negative thoughts. Surround yourself with positive people. They can support your quit and help you see all the great things about yourself.
- Find fun things to do: Try a new dance workout. Volunteer with a local charity. Or start a book club with a group of close friends. Do fun activities to create a positive environment for yourself. When you’re enjoying life, you will have less time to focus on your appearance.
- Help others: Help your loved ones see their beauty, inside and out. Try saying nice things, focusing on health instead of weight, and not criticizing other people’s physical appearance (including your own). This can help create a positive environment for you and the other women in your life. Plus, doing something nice for someone else can lift your mood and keep you distracted when a cigarette craving hits.
- Stress less: When you’re feeling down or stressed, you’re more likely to slip. Use relaxation exercises, like deep breathing or muscle relaxation, to handle nicotine withdrawal or help a food craving pass.
Focus on your superpowers: Think about the powerful and amazing things your body can do. You’re able to get around and do things, heal yourself when you’re injured or sick, or comfort others with the power of touch.