'Listening to Heart' Helps Stay Away from Eating Disorders
Being self-aware can help people cope with stress. A new study shows that women who know their bodies, and not obsess about the opinion of other people, are less likely to see their body as objects and more likely to have a healthy lifestyle.
Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, say that knowing oneself from within cuts the risk of eating disorders and promotes well-being.
The study included healthy female volunteers aged between 19 and 26 years. Researchers asked them to count their heart beats just by listening to their own bodies. Researchers even asked these women to fill a questionnaire that was based on their sense of self objectification, like the amount of importance they attached to a body attribute.
The body attributes that they were asked to assess ranged from physical beauty to energy and overall health.
Researchers then compared the accuracy of the heartbeat counting test to the level of self-objectification.
Study results showed that the more accurate a woman's prediction about her own heartbeat count was, the less she was likely to obsess about self image or have unhealthy eating patterns.
The more accurate the women were in detecting their heartbeats, the less they tended to think of their bodies as objects. These findings have important implications for understanding body image dissatisfaction and clinical disorders which are linked to self-objectification, such as anorexia.
"People have the remarkable ability to perceive themselves from the perspective of an outside observer. However, there is a danger that some women can develop an excessive tendency to regard their bodies as 'objects', while neglecting to value them from within, for their physical competence and health. Women who 'self-objectify', in this way, are vulnerable to eating disorders and a range of other clinical conditions such as depression and sexual dysfunction," said Dr. Manos Tsakiris from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway.
Women, more than men, are prone to develop eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are the types of eating disorders that a woman may develop during the teenage years or early adulthood. However, some women may develop these conditions later in life as well. Factors affecting a person's eating habits are culture, stressful events, emotional problems and family perception, according to womenshealth.gov.
"We believe that our measure of body awareness, which assesses how well women are able to listen to their internal signals, will prove a valuable addition to research into self-objectification and women's resulting mental health," said Vivien Ainley, one of the study authors.
The study is published in the journal PLOS One.