Many things change in high school years; friends grow apart, bodies change, tests get harder. It is easy to get lost in the thick of it. Most teenagers struggle with personal identity because they are still figuring out who to be.
One factor that contributes to the struggle is society’s focus on image, both physical and personal. In almost every magazine or newspaper, there are “how-to” sections on eating right, getting abs, or losing weight. Social media, which is pivotal in most young people’s lives, revolves around image, where on instagram beautifully edited photos are posted for a maximum number of likes. Followers see this idealized beauty and get discouraged when their bodies and faces are not the same; in reality, celebrities and models use the same filters and apps we do to try to achieve perfection.
Because of the unnecessary emphasis on image, many feel a societal pressure to maintain the perfect image instead of figuring out exactly who they are and being happy with themselves.
If you are one who is striving to be happy with yourself, look no further. Adding to the host of advice, here are five ways to help you be happy with who you are.
“When Will my Reflection Show Who I am Inside?”
Start looking in a mirror every day, and do not focus on blemishes and imperfections. Simply look at yourself for a few seconds and say, “I am unique. I am alright. I can do anything I put my mind to” or any combination of confidence-boosting phrases. As reported by LetsReachSuccess.com, saying these phrases will help you recognize your value and become more confident by internalizing the positive thoughts and applying them to yourself.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
It’s not a surprise that when you are with the people who love you, you tend to feel more comfortable. Being in a pressured or harmful environment is bad for mental and physical health, so surround yourself with those who accept and love you and it will be easier to accept and love yourself. Gary W. Evans of Cornell University states that individuals’ mental health may be more vulnerable to the impacts of a built environment. A good environment is one in which all involved will encourage and challenge you to be the best you can be.
“You Should Go and Love Yourself”
Embrace who you are, inside and out. Only you have the power to truly change who you are, so if you are unhappy, know that you can change! But to be happy with yourself, you must love yourself first. Vogue writer Katherine Bernard wrote that recent studies have shown that how you dress impacts how you interact with the world. It is hard to be comfortable in your own skin when you are uncomfortable in your clothes. Try to find a style of clothing that you feel good in, whether it be comfy sweatpants or a dress and heels.
Good Food, Better Mood
Eating heart healthy foods, such as a low-fat, high carbohydrate snack, can improve your mood according to Colleen Pierre of Prevention.com. High carbohydrate snacks can be anything from whole-wheat bread with honey to a spinach salad loaded with veggies. These carbohydrates enter the brain as serotonin, which affects mood and social behavior in a positive way, and can even help memory and appetite.
Other mood boosting foods include seafood, which contains omega-3 fatty acids,. Omega-3 has a similar chemical make-up to that of anti-depressants and also helps control mood-swings. Eating these helpful, healthy foods can lead to a more positive perspective on life and yourself.
To Infinity, and Beyond
No matter how much you workout, change your style, or diet, you will be in the same body for the rest of your life. In fact, you would not be you if you were in any one else’s shoes. Dr. John Demartini wrote in his article Appreciating Your Physical Body: “Both things you like and dislike are going to serve you in your life and the wisdom is appreciating this balance and being grateful for it.”
In the end, you are ultimately in control of thoughts and feelings about yourself and your body. It is easy to dwell over flaws and insecurities, but to be openly happy with who you are, you must embrace the things that have been holding you back by recognizing your value, surrounding yourself with good company and eating well.