Everyone feels down on personal appearance from time to time. A person’s true value is determined by a lot more than physical appearance, but we exist within a society that puts a ton of importance on looks.
As such, maintaining a positive body image isn’t always easy. A new study from Anglia Ruskin University, however, has a novel suggestion for how to feel better about one’s body. Listen to it more.
That is, try and become more attuned to the sensations and feelings within your body. Researchers from ARU say that paying greater attention to bodily feelings, particularly the stomach and gut can lead to an uptick in bodily appreciation and acceptance.
Our study shows a clear link between bodily awareness, in this case, the feeling of fullness, and body image,” explains lead study author Jennifer Todd, a psychology Ph.D. student at ARU, in a university release. In other words, people who are more in tune with their body’s internal workings have a greater appreciation of their body in general. Interestingly, we found that this link exists in two very different countries.”
More specifically, this project focused on gastric interoception among a group of 191 adult participants. That term simply refers to feelings of either hunger or fullness emanating from the stomach. All of the adults involved in this study were either from the United Kingdom or Malaysia.
Each study participant was asked to fast for a while and then drink some water.
The research team closely tracked the amount of water each person drank in reference to their body size and estimated stomach capacity, as well as how sensitive each participant was to feelings of fullness upon drinking the water.
Also, each study subject filled out a survey inquiring about their body image. These questionnaires asked about both overall body appreciation and perceived body functionality.
The results of this experiment revealed a fascinating relationship at play between recognizing feelings of fullness and body image. Greater sensitivity to changes in the gut was associated with a more positive overall body image. In other words, participants who were quick to recognize the water was filling up their empty stomach were more likely to report being content with both their body’s appearance and functionality (athleticism, etc).
“We think that greater sensitivity to gastric signals might increase awareness of the positive functions the body performs and improve the ability to respond to the body’s needs, both of which promote positive body image,” Todd comments. “Individuals who are less in tune with internal stimuli, such as feeling full, could be more at risk of developing negative body image, due to an over-reliance on external, appearance-related characteristics such as shape and size.”
The fact that both British and Malaysian adults showed this connection is of note as well, considering the vastly different cultures of both nations.
With so much constantly going on in the worldaround us, it’s especially challenging to stay in tune with one’s body in 2020. It may seem like a silly way to feel better about your appearance at first, but try to listen to your body more throughout an average day.
We’ve all become used to ignoring sensations like fatigue, stress, and hunger while engrossed in other tasks, but an integral part of appreciating one’s body is taking care of it.
“It is possible that body image can be promoted by encouraging people to be more aware of internal sensations, such as feeling full,” Todd concludes. “Gut feelings can be good for you!”