How DBT Is Helping Me Reframe "Summer Body" Ideal
For most people, eating disordered or not, the idea of the “Summer Body” is something that is fixated on as soon as warm weather starts peeking in. While this mindset is something that has become commonplace in society, it is definitely unhealthy.
So, what should we do to help get past this ideal?
One of the most helpful tools I’ve found is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT focuses on balancing both acceptance and change as a way to foster healthier ways of coping.
In the case of trying to reframe the “summer body” ideal, I’ve found three DBT skills particularly helpful — effective rethinking, turn the mind, and opposite action.
Effective rethinking is taking a thought that isn’t constructive and flipping the wording so it’s a more effective statement. For example, if I have a thought like “I can’t wear a bikini on the beach because my body isn’t small enough,” I’ll reframe the thought to be “I can wear a bikini on the beach regardless of my body size.”
Turning the mind is a radical acceptance skill where you pretty much yell “no!” at distressing thoughts. For example, if you’re wearing an outfit that is giving you negative body image, you can respond to those thoughts by saying “NO!” or “Go away!” or “You’re not going to win today.”
Opposite action is a skill where you do the opposite of what your urge is. For example, if you have the urge to stay home because you don’t want to wear a bathing suit, you can choose to go to the beach and wear a bathing suit.
This Summer, I challenge you to reframe the “Summer Body” ideal and choose to believe that you have a summer body right now, in this moment, just as you are.
Colleen Werner is a writer, dancer, and future therapist from Long Island, NY. She’s studying Psychology at SUNY Old Westbury and plans on going to graduate school for Mental Health Counseling. She aspires to start an eating disorder treatment program for dancers. Colleen’s experiences in recovery from an eating disorder and anxiety disorder have inspired her to share her story in an effort to help others, end the stigma, and create a sense of community. She is a National Ambassador for Project HEAL, a Campus Editor-at-Large for HuffPost, and a contributor for HerCampus and The Mighty. Colleen’s Instagram, @leenahlovesherself, inspires thousands every day with her posts about authenticity and mental health.