Covid-19 Anxiety, Stress and Negative Body Image:

I've been talking and writing for many months now about the mental health impacts from the coronavirus pandemic and everything that goes with it, such as social restrictions and worry about potential future consequences.

The latest data from the Office of National Statistics (October 2020) found that more than three quarters of adults were very or somewhat worried about the effect of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their life right now.  That level of worry has been increasing over recent months as the pandemic endures.  Levels of anxiety remained at their highest since the start of April, and life satisfaction has fallen.

As I've written about before, more and more evidence demonstrates that this Covid-19 pandemic is impacting on mental health for many, many people. As well as fears about contracting the virus, there are worries about the future, impacts on meeting and interacting with others, difficulties planning, impacts on work and education, and many other factors that lead to these high levels of Covid-19 anxiety and stress.

And whilst I've written about these mental health impacts and what you can do about them, a new piece of research has been published that suggests that Covid-19 anxiety and stress may also be having an impact on body image.

Covid-19 Stress & Anxiety and Negative Body Image

Anxiety and stress, perhaps now more than ever during the pandemic, are two of the main things I help people to deal with in their hypnotherapy sessions. And certainly a negative body image is something that a lot of clients struggle with. For some it may be due to low self esteem and just not feeling good in themselves; others worry about what other people might think and many lack body confidence in various ways or are very self critical about themselves. There are also weight loss clients who are unhappy with their current size, shape and weight and who may avoid being in photographs and looking in the mirror, and body image is often associated with eating disorders and issues that people come for help with.  

In their research, Swamia, Horne and Furnham (COVID-19-related stress and anxiety are associated with negative body image in adults from the United Kingdom, 2020) investigated whether stress and anxiety caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacted on people's body image.

They examined the association between stress, anxiety and negative body image in a sample of 506 adults in the United Kingdom by measuring their perceived stress, stressful life events, trait anxiety, COVID-19-related stress and anxiety, and negative body image (body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness in women, body fat and muscularity dissatisfaction in men).

 

covid 19 anxiety stress negative body image

 

The results of their study confirmed that Covid-19 related stress and anxiety was associated with more negative body image. 

"Our results suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic may have important consequences for body image in women and men. The present findings are particularly important because they suggest that the stress and anxiety related to the COVID19 pandemic specifically, as opposed to generalised stress and anxiety, significantly contribute to body image outcomes."

As well as other psychological and mental health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, such as increased Covid-19 anxiety and stress, substance use, coronaphobia and so forth, these results also suggest that covid-19 anxiety and stress can lead to us having more a more negative body image. This in turn could impact on issues such as self-esteem, mood and well-being and could potentially elevate the risk of eating disorders. 

Although more research would be needed, the authors of this study speculate that Covid 19 related stress and anxiety may diminish coping resources to manage threats to body image, increase exposure to thin/athletic ideals via media messaging (e.g. through increased screen-time), and heighten concerns about weight and/or shape changes that occur during conditions of lockdown (e.g. because of decreased physical activity or unhealthier eating behaviours).

 

Covid 19 anxiety stress negative body image

 

In addition, as with anxiety and stress, social restrictions and limitations due to the coronavirus may mean having more time to think (or over-think about things) and therefore there may be a greater frequency of negative body ruminations and more time to think about, and focus on, body size, shape and weight.

Many people have mentioned to me in recent weeks how their eating habits, and often alcohol drinking habits, have been less healthy during lockdown and that this has continued since. As always, it is possible to take back control over these habits so that you generally eat healthier and feel better. And it is definitely possible to deal with anxiety, stress and to boost your self esteem and body image so that you feel healthier, happier and more confident. 

Along with the other psychological impacts of covid-19, it is certainly worth, based upon this research, being aware how your anxiety and stress can impact and lead to you thinking more negatively about your body (and potentially being over-critical of yourself).  By ending negative thinking, taking positive action and taking back control over your thoughts and feelings, you can start to feel good now and enjoy the journey towards your goals. The more you can learn how to be nicer, kinder and more encouraging to yourself, the easier you will find it to stay strong, take action and feel better.

To your health and happiness,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket 

 

Do you need help to deal with your anxiety, worry and stress? Take that first step to feeling better and book your Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session with Dan now: Appointments

Find out what scores of other people have said after their hypnotherapy sessions with Dan: Hypnotherapy Testimonials

And check out these powerful hypnosis downloads that can start helping you feel better right now: Hypnosis Downloads

 

References:

Office For National Statistics, Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, 23 October 2020 

Swami, V., Horne, G. and Furnham, A., 2020. COVID-19-related stress and anxiety are associated with negative body image in adults from the United Kingdom. Personality and Individual Differences, p.110426.