Almost a year in lockdown has made some people self-conscious (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Are there enough party horns in the world to prepare for June 21?
Our WhatsApp groups are already planning the nights out, bottomless brunches and holidays for when lockdown lifts.
But the thought of being out again has made us more conscious of our physical appearance and a pressure to ‘get hot’ or ‘look better than ever before’ has emerged.
Various memes have been circulating about the ‘glow ups’ and ‘summer bodies’ which are about to take place over the next few months, ready for when socialising becomes a thing again.
Some of it’s light-hearted – but not all of it.
Of course it’s a good thing to want to get healthy habits and post-lockdown activity levels back – but if these enormous transformations don’t happen, where does that leave us?
Psychologist Jo Hemmings explains that we’ve already experienced so much disappointment in the last year, not achieving the ‘ultimate summer body’ might result in more misery.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The dangers may lie in the fact that as we have been deprived of so much over the past year – from going on holiday, hugging our family, seeing our friends in a pub, going to festivals or theatre or music gigs – that we will effectively overdo it, whether crash dieting or exercising frantically.
‘If we have an “all or nothing” mentality, along with trying to speed up our metabolism too quickly, there is every danger that we’ll hit a wall of low blood sugar levels, irritability and fatigue, which – apart from compromising our immune systems (which we really do need to keep in great shape) – does tend to set up an unrealistic expectation that often lead to disappointment.’
It also might make us feel even worse about ourselves, at a time when things are finally getting better – especially if we start to compare ourselves to others.
Jo adds: ‘It also can lead to frustration and anxiety over our body image.
‘Most people want to lose a bit of lockdown weight, often caused by a change in routine or eating for comfort, but again if our expectations are too unrealistic, it has a counter intuitive effect of making us feel more miserable, especially if celebrities and other influencers may well be back to posting their beach-ready images.’
No, you don’t need to look ‘better than ever’ (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, agrees that while it’s healthy to have something to work towards – it’s important not to set yourself up to fail.
She says: ‘With a final end date in sight, we have something to work towards which can help spur us on to reach our goals.
‘This can be a healthy, positive thing if we’ve found ourselves slipping into unhealthy habits in lockdown – and provided those goals are realistic and benefit our wellbeing in the long-term.
‘The danger is when those goals become restrictive and punishing, and come at the cost of our wellbeing.
‘Those who heap this kind of pressure on themselves are likely to be people who already have perfectionistic tendencies or struggle with low self-esteem.
‘Whenever we begin to misplace our worth on external factors and appearances, we run into dangerous territory.’
Personal trainer Daniel Carpenter from Common Purpose Club explains that when it comes to setting goals, it’s important to remember the SMART principle – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
He says that some of the common dangers to look out for are:
- When people set unrealistic expectations.
- When they try and make drastic measures.
- When they develop unhealthy relationships with food and exercise as a result.
- When they focus too much on the outcome rather than the journey.
Daniel adds: ‘Don’t get us wrong, getting in shape is an amazingly positive step towards improving physical and mental wellbeing, but it’s not the be all and end all.
‘We encourage people to use June 21 as a source of motivation to get in shape and feel good about themselves, but at the same time not to let it consume them into a state of worry and anxiety.’
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