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Self-image – From a psychology students perspective.

If you’re frequent user of social media you’ll be no stranger to the negative comments and feelings of inadequacy that can come about through using it. A few people I follow have used the platform to expose some of the comments they receive on a daily basis, and the harmful effect it has had on their confidence and self-esteem. This made me think about self-image and just how fragile it really is.

According to Self-perception theory, as proposed by Bem (1972), self-image operates on both an intrinsic and extrinsic level. We learn about our own attitudes, beliefs and emotions through observing our own behaviour and thoughts (intrinsic). These beliefs are then reinforced or challenged by the feedback that we gain from others (extrinsic) – it’s here that the vulnerability arises. Depending upon certain factors such as resilience, confidence and self-esteem will determine the extent to which we allow the feedback of another to challenge the view we have of ourselves.

Self-perception is more like a process as opposed to a fixed state, and so naturally we will encounter individuals throughout our lives who can be detrimental or beneficial to our self-image. The view of ones self is particularly fragile amongst adolescents, as this age group is more vulnerable to the effect of poor self-image and regulating irrational thoughts (O’Keefe & Clark-Pearson, 2011). There is also research to highlight the negative effects of self-image, and they’re pretty serious! For example, a frequent negative self-image amongst adolescents has been linked to symptoms of depression, social anxiety and even suicidal behaviour (Savilahiti et al, 2018; Schreiber , F., & Steil, R. 2013; Sitnik-Warchulska 2016).

Furthermore, there is research that directly links social media to contributing to a negative self-image (Mclean et al., 2015). Social media provides the perfect environment for challenging a persons self-perception. You chose to put yourself out there and so you will inevitably be judged (or even scrutinised) by others, potentially challenging the current view of yourself, leading to mental discrepancy.

It’s obvious from the research that a negative self-image can have detrimental effect on mental health, so whats the solution? To me, I feel it comes down to resilience. It is easier let the views of another tamper with something as fragile as our self image, but first we should consider a few things. Start by questioning the intentions of the person who is giving you their opinion of you. How much do you value their opinion? Nine times out of 10, you won’t know the person nor their intentions, and so in this case ignore their viewpoint. Why should we even consider letting someones view on ourselves be tampered with when we don’t know why they have said this comment in the first place? I’m not saying to disregard everyone’s opinion and views on yourself, but instead give yourself the power to be selective about who’s opinion you let influence your self-image.

Be resilient, believe in yourself and If all else fails…there is no better feeling than cutting out the haters from your life :’)

I could write so much on this, but I wont give you an essay to read this time 😉 If you’d like me to write more posts in this style just let me know! Thank you for reading,

Jazzy B ❤

References:

Bem, Daryl J. “Self-Perception Theory.” In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 6, edited by Leonard Berkowitz. New York: Academic, 1972. Print.

O’Keeffe, G.S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). Clinical report: The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4), 800-804. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054

Savilahti, E.M., Haravuori, H., Rytila-Manninen, M., Lindberg, N., Kettunen, K., & Marttunen, M. (2018). High beck depression inventory 21 scores in adolescents without depression are associated with negative self-image and immature defense style. Psychiatry research, 263, 61-68. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.02.040Get rights and content

Schreiber, F., Steil, R. (2013). Haunting self-images? The role of negative self-images in adolescnet social anxiety disorder. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 44(2), 158-164. Doi:
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2012.10.003

Sitnik-Warchulska, K. (2016). Self-image and suicidal and violent behaviours of adolescent girls. Healthy Psychology Report, 4(4), 303-314. Doi:
https://doaj.org/article/367ae2de3ede4f55a0ad21a7e36c84e8

McLean, S.A., Paxton, S.J., Wertheim, E.H. & Masters, J. (2015). Photoshopping the selfie: self photo editing and photo investment are associated with body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 48(8), 1132–1140. Doi: 10.1002/eat.22449 h

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The Impact of Diet on Mental Health

Yes, food really does affect your mood.

When you think about what effects your mental health, the typical answers are stress, self-esteem, and relationship issues, to name but a few, however, we often underestimate the impact that food has on our mental health. When you consider the science behind it and the growing evidence that food has a greater effect on our mental health than we give credit for, I think we could all check what we are fuelling our bodies with.

There is no doubt that what we eat has an impact on our mental health, this link has been proven repeatedly. A review of studies looking into the issue of diet and mental health found that regular consumption of a Western diet (a diet consisting of highly processed and sugary foods) increased the risk of depression (O’Neil et al., 2014). Moreover, a poor diet is proven to impact biological mechanisms that are commonly associated with depression such as impacting the immune system and altering the levels of certain brain proteins potentially leading to depressive symptoms (O’Neil et al., 2014). This further strengthens the link between diet and mental health.

Moreover, some of the factors that contribute to poor mental health, such as stress, have been proven to influence food preferences. For example, a study by Kandiah, Yake, and Meyer (2006) found that when participants were not exposed to stress they made healthy dietary choices 80% of the time compared to when participants were exposed to stress, which they made healthy food choices only 33% of the time. This highlights an issue, the fact that something like stress can lead to poor mental health, yet when we experience stress we tend to eat unhealthier options, also negatively impacting our mental health. Therefore, healthier dietary choices could break this cycle as evidenced by Ansari, Adetunji, and Oskrochi (2014) who found that when fruit and vegetables weren’t consumed on a regular basis, there was a greater association with experiencing more depressive symptoms for both males and females.

Although there is little research on a diet that has been proven to reduce the likelihood of depressive symptoms and promote better mental health, there have been studies conducted on specific foods. For example, the following foods have all been linked to better mental health when in their raw form; carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens like spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwifruit (Brookie, Best & Conner, 2018).

I hope you found this an interesting read,

Jazzy B ❤

References:

Kandiah, J., Yake, M., & Meyer, M. (2006). Stress influences appetite and comfort food preferences in college women.  Nutrition Research, 28(1), 118-123. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2005.11.010 

Ansari, W.E, Adetunji, H., Oskrochi, R. (2014). Food and mental health: Relationship between food and perceived stress and depressive symptoms among university students in the United Kingdom. Central European Journal of Public Health, 22(2), 90-97.

O’Neil, A., Quirk, S.E., Houseden, S., Brennan, S.L., Williams, L.J., Pasco, J.A., Berk, M., & Jacka, F.N.(2014). Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: A Systematic Review. The American Journal of Public Health, 104(10).

Brookie, K.L., Best, G.I., Conner, T.S. (2018). Intake of raw fruits and vegetables is associated with better mental health than intake of processed fruits and vegetables. Frontiers in Psychology, 9(1). doi: https://doaj.org/article/956172bb66c747b1a3efbf9a4a4d9023