If there was any degree of uneasiness or dysfunction with your relationship with your body before quarantine, you may be finding that that’s intensified during isolation. Perhaps you didn’t think you had any unhealthy tendencies when it comes to food, exercise, and your body, but something about this pandemic has brought some out.
Try not to be too hard on yourself. This is a very stressful time for everyone. Whatever personal challenges one may have dealt with before – sobriety, impulse spending, social media addiction – they become even greater when people are removed from their support systems. And right now, everyone is removed from everyone so, yes, access to the people, groups, places, and activities that helped keep you on the right track before are harder to come by and It can feel hard to get a win right now. That’s why we spoke to Dr. Ebony, a psychologist who works extensively with women on the all-important relationship they have with their bodies. Dr. Ebony discussed how to deal with body issues while in isolation.
- Caution against comparison
“In this age of instant information with social media, people are sending this information that we should leave quarantine being thin and in the best shape of our lives,” says Dr. Ebony. Research has found that people are currently moving less and sleeping more, and there is information everywhere about the “quarantine 15.” Social media doesn’t help slow the spread of that info.
- Know these aren’t normal times
“I don’t think people realize we’re sitting in the middle of a trauma and we’re trying to navigate a crisis,” states Dr. Ebony. “When we are trying to escape trauma, our body’s main focus is survival and to make you not lose weight. Don’t hold yourselves to these standards of fitness during quarantine.”
- Consume good food; not guilt
“You can certainly be active and be cognizant of the food you’re eating but these expectations of extreme weight loss [during quarantine] can bring in guilt and shame,” says Dr. Ebony. To those spending all day looking at fitness models on social media and reading about celebrity diets, Dr. Ebony says, “I also caution against spending all of your time consuming that type of information. Diversify the kind of information that you’re getting.”
- Reference several sources
“All the info you’re getting about health and food, diversify that,” suggests Dr. Ebony. “You can look at social media if you want to, but also research articles. Look at pages from scholars or actual studies, and not just Instagram influencers. Diversify your information because, as you can see, in the field of weight loss and food management, it’s all conflicting. There is no consistent information. If people knew that, they may not hold themselves to such high standards or put that pressure on themselves.”
- Create structure
Even though there may not be a boss checking when you clock in, or there may not be that IRL trainer session to motivate you to get up, Dr. Ebony still recommends treating time as if a pandemic isn’t happening. “Keep yourself on a schedule and structure as if you were still going into the office, or had some kind of normalcy. That helps keep us accountable so we aren’t slipping into behaviors that can leave us feeling ineffective.”