October 18, 2021

‘I just didn’t feel like myself’: How lockdown took its toll on our body image


When lockdown was first imposed in England final March, Bethan Vincent went from figuring out on the gym a minimum of 4 days per week to in no way. The sudden change in routine made the 30-year-old advertising guide from Church Fenton, in North Yorkshire, feel sluggish and unmotivated, compounded by anxiety and depression.

“One in all my primary causes for going to the gymnasium so usually is for my psychological health,” she tells The Unbiased. “I endure from anxiousness and melancholy, however realised how good train made me feel in my early 20s. It’s been like a therapy for me.”

However when the power to go to the gymnasium was snatched away throughout lockdown months, Vincent not solely apprehensive concerning the psychological well being penalties, however she additionally gained a stone in weight (over 6kg). Then the second lockdown in October got here, taking an even bigger toll on her psychological and bodily well being, because the climate turned chilly and darkish.

“By the point we acquired to Christmas, I had put on round 4 or 5 kilograms and it wasn’t quite a bit, but it surely was sufficient to make me feel not good and never assured,” she says. “My garments didn’t match proper, issues have been a bit tight and uncomfortable, a few of my muscle tone was gone. For me, it wasn’t just about body image, however conserving wholesome and at that time, I just didn’t feel myself.”

Vincent is much from alone within the modifications she skilled along with her body. Analysis from courting app Bumble discovered that greater than half (58 per cent) of UK adults at the moment are extra involved about their look, with greater than two-thirds saying they’ve held again from courting once more as a result of they lacked the identical body confidence that they had earlier than the pandemic.

A survey from Public Health England discovered that greater than 40 per cent of adults in England put on a mean of half a stone in weight in the course of the pandemic, with 21 per cent gaining a stone or extra. In response to the examine, most respondents mentioned unhealthy consuming habits like consolation consuming and snacking have been the primary causes behind their weight acquire.



My garments didn’t match proper, issues have been a bit tight and uncomfortable, a few of my muscle tone was gone

For Charlie Younger, 29, cooking elaborate, usually luxurious meals, was one of many solely methods to make lockdown extra pleasing for him and his housemate. “I might spend a great deal of time planning for these difficult, wealthy recipes, after which we’d eat them over the course of a few days,” the London-based pc analyst says. “My belt retains reminding me that they’ve taken their toll.

“However cooking was one of many solely issues that introduced me some pleasure throughout lockdown, you recognize? I take pleasure in crew sports activities, however when that was taken away from me, I needed to discover one thing else to make me completely happy.”

Younger, who gained just over a stone in weight, says he does feel extra insecure about his body now than he did earlier than lockdown, and lately considered getting a private coach to assist him regain a few of his confidence. “I’m fairly cautious to keep away from placing myself in a mindset the place I believe the burden acquire is totally unfavourable, however I’ve caught myself avoiding the mirror fairly a couple of occasions as lockdown progressed,” he says.

He explains: “After I tried garments I haven’t worn in a yr on once more, discovering that some didn’t match anymore did make me feel fairly low for a interval. It actually reveals how your bodily self can impression your psychological wellbeing.”

Social media additionally had a huge effect on folks’s self-esteem and body confidence throughout lockdown; it grew to become the window via which we considered a lot of the world after we have been reduce off from real-life interactions, says neuro-linguistic programming coach Rebecca Lockwood. Evaluating ourselves to others on social media – notably within the run-up to summer season, when strain to have a “summer-ready body” is at an all-time excessive – can result in distorted perceptions of oneself.



It’s necessary to consider all that you’re – slightly than considering of your self when it comes to weight or dimension

“In a world the place social media has turn out to be really easy and addictive to entry, it’s extra widespread than ever to get wrapped up in judging ourselves and evaluating ourselves to others,” says Lockwood. “The factor is, on social media, folks more often than not solely share the nice issues and we’re not at all times conscious of what’s actually going on.”

To fight unfavourable emotions about post-lockdown our bodies, Lockwood advises: “It’s necessary to consider all that you’re – slightly than considering of your self when it comes to weight or dimension. Faucet into how a lot your body does for you, the way it helps you to dwell every day and the sentiments of gratitude you’ve got in direction of your body for all that it lets you do.

“When you have gained weight in the course of the pandemic – as lots of people have – then it’s necessary to acknowledge this, nevertheless, gaining weight shouldn’t at all times be seen as a unfavourable factor.

“Our our bodies achieve this a lot for us and it’s necessary to really convey our consciousness to the truth that we’re complete and our our bodies and minds needs to be complete. Whenever you’re unfavourable in direction of your body out of your thoughts, it creates a disconnect which might then trigger extra unfavourable emotions, behaviours and self-sabotaging actions which spiral to make it even tougher mentally and bodily.”

James Wilson, founding father of Thoughts Swap, agrees that social media magnifies emotions of comparability and provides: “We’ve been largely remoted from significant reference to different folks and have due to this fact not had the exterior validation and approval that we’re used to.” Since lockdown, Wilson has seen an enormous rise in shoppers coming to him with vanity and confidence points.



We don’t usually give ourselves the identical compassion and understanding as we do the folks closest to us

Wilson lists three steps folks can take to rebuild their confidence, which embody: being form and compassionate to your self, appreciating what your body allows you to expertise, and focusing on what you possibly can management.

“Bear in mind lockdown was a very new expertise, and also you’ve achieved the very best you could possibly,” he says. “We don’t usually give ourselves the identical compassion and understanding as we do the folks closest to us. Take a second and ask your self: what would you say to a buddy or member of the family who’s feeling the best way you might be?”

He provides that what different folks take into consideration us is totally uncontrolled and advises: “Every time these anxious ideas come, take three gradual breaths and change your focus on one factor you are able to do in the present day for your self. Bear in mind vanity has to return from you.”



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