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Social Media and Eating Disorders ~ by Gemma Bonner

Eating disorders affect up to 24 million people of all ages and gender in the US. They have the highest mortality rate of any mental condition, making greater awareness, early diagnosis and receiving treatment, vital. The most commonly known eating disorders include anorexia nervosa (which involves extreme calorie counting/starvation),bulimia nervosa (involving alternating episodes of bingeing and purging), though in the last few years, additional disorders have been identified, including binge eating disorder (in which bingeing is not necessarily followed by purging) and EDNOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified, in which sufferers may display some, but not all, of the characteristic behaviors associated with another eating disorder).

There are many causes for eating disorders; recent has shown that they can include problematic family relationships, psychological issues and genetics. The media and the unrealistic body images they portray used to be blamed for the sharp rise in eating disorders in the 1970s and 1980s though researchers have since discovered that the causes of disorders are far more complex and difficult to identify. Moreover, each person with an eating disorder is a world unto his own, since a variety of factors can work together to cause or exacerbate the problem.

The media may not be solely to blame, yet pressure to conform to specific body types does cause its share of harm. The theme of the recently held 2015 International Conference for Eating Disorders was ‘Communication’, since studies have shown that Facebook use is linked to strong body dissatisfaction. There are many reasons why, despite the fact that social media do not cause eating disorders per se, they can exacerbate symptoms or even trigger a relapse. For one, social media leads to self-objectification and inevitable comparison. The media sexually objectifies women, note researchers of an important study on social media use and body image in women, because it focuses on looks instead of personality or accomplishments/ abilities. Women can learn to view their body as an object to be observed; indeed, research has shown that exposure to the thin ideal leads to greater self objectification in young women. This can lead to body shame and anxiety, which in turn can spur on depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, and eating disorders.

Social media sites like Facebook can make women feel objectified in very specific ways. Facebook is very image-dependent, with the site boasting an arsenal of 250 billion images in 2013 alone. Facebook is appearance-focused, owing to the tendency of users to upload photos, and receive Likes and comments regarding their appearance. Studies have shown that the more time one spent on Facebook, the stronger the tendency to objectify oneself. Moreover, the site not only exposes users to images of celebrities, but also to images of their friends and colleagues, which can promote even deeper degrees of comparison, since friends tend to have more ‘attainable’ body images than celebrities. Studies have also pointed to the tendency of Facebook users to compare images of themselves in the present and the past, which also contributes to self-objectification. Although most studies have focused on women, body objectification is also suffered by men, with studies showing that many males are underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed, because of the false perception that eating disorders are ‘a female issue’.

The relationship between self objectification and a greater risk of eating disorders has been accepted by specialists in the field. This is an important step into understanding the nature of eating disorders, since it shows that how we feel about ourselves, our own feelings of inadequacy, shame, guilt and self blame, can become a block to full recovery. One of the top therapies used to treat eating disorders is Maudsley Therapy, which involves the whole family working together to support the person recovering. The first step in Maudsley lies in regaining lost weight. Afterwards, as the person gains more independence over what they eat, the key is to help them make the right choices. Yoga, mindfulness meditation and EFTapping are important complementary therapies which can help lower stress levels (thereby reducing the chances of relapse) and unblock powerful sentiments like anger, fear and resentment, which can impact those recovering on a physiological and psychological level. Because EFTapping helps us discover what body and mind need, it is an excellent way for those with eating disorders to learn the powerful, positive effect that good food can have on their lives.

Do you want to tap and learn mindfulness meditation with Eileen to conquer your eating disorder?: http://www.balanceandpower.com/eft.php 

FREE phone consult : 516 623 4353  eileen@balanceandpower.com  

Citations:

Examiner.com, Damaging Comparisons. Social Media and Eating Disorders, accessed April, 2015.

J Fardouly et al, The Mediating Role of Appearance Comparisons in the Relationship Between Media Usage and Self-Objectification in Young Women, accessed April, 2015.

Feast-ed.org, The Family-Based, or Maudsley Treatment Approach, accessed April, 2015.

WomensHealth.gov, Anorexia nervosa fact sheet, accessed April, 2015.

National Eating Disorders.org, Eating Disorder Health Concerns, accessed April, 2015.

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This season Less Stress for the Holidays , Managing Time & Focus to Attain Your Goals  have been well received  topics in my workshop venues. I’ve come to the personal-professional conclusion that what all participants relate to for an easier season is keeping things simple.

I’m an advocate of this philosophy year round- and I think we all go through phases and times where the “complicated version” is attractive.  Extra seasonal demands point to staying with the basics and what matters most. “Being stressed” is about feeling overwhelmed and out of control- and sometimes circumstances are beyond our control.  We always have a choice, however, about how we cope with these circumstances. 

I want to thank each of you in our Long Island Networking community for the wonderful venues and events provided this year and look forward to additional opportunities to build a strong network of caring business owners and colleagues, as well as  international friends and colleagues via social media and the internet groups I belong to.

 See my  Events Page for upcoming stress and anger reducing groups that also will give you a confidence boost!  Give yourself the gift of less stress, increased focus, clarity, creativity, improved health and a terrific attitude! Products Page

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“Safe Optimism- It’s Your Choice!”

You Always Have a Choice

Stress Relief for the Holidays, Caregivers with EFT

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WOW! I’m excited- and am ready for a burst of new “friends” on FB, Linked In, Twitter & Plaxo- as they’re all  connected- and James Rutnam of http:www.webtimegraphics.com     http://www.motivationalwhisperers.com/has created super-duper page(s)

for me on Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Balance-Power-Inc/134027079964068?v=wall

Check it out!

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I’ve learned a lot about human nature having  guided-coached so many with   inner work  and having personally been on the inner-work journey   for many moons.   Sometimes it’s quite obvious to those around us when progress is being made- all the “work” , fears conquered, bridges built, mood shifts, baby steps accomplished, to name a few.  Professionally and as wife-mom-daughter I’ve given  too numerous to count heart felt acknowledgements, compliments and validating statements.  I want to take a few moments now on this beautiful Spring Sunday afternoon to acknowledge all of us who have been doing that- for ourselves and for others.  We all need validation- even when we don’t know it- it’s a thumbs up that we’re not alone in this great sea of humanity &  technology.   Thinking-feeling intuitively that another is on the “right” path, making a “right” choice needs to be communicated fully for  most people to receive your message.  Let them know  in a supportive, loving way.

I invite each of you, dear readers of this blog, to join me on Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Plaxo and to join my LI Group: The Balance & Power Network and FB Page: SOAR! with Resilience!

Facebook | LinkedIn | Plaxo | Twitter

 

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