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What is body image? Body image refers to the way you see your physical self — your body — and the thoughts and feelings that are caused by the way you see it. Having a healthy body image means being comfortable and knowing that there is more to you than just your physical appearance. You accept your body, including its limitations, and appreciate it. Conversely, having an unhealthy body image involves always thinking your body is unattractive. This 'body dissatisfaction' is driven from an internal process, but can be influenced by external social factors. Sometimes, it can make a person forget that they have value beyond what they look like. It can lead to shame or anger associated with a person's body. What factors affect body image? Body image can fluctuate between positive and negative at different times. It is impacted by internal factors, such as your personality and external factors, such as your social environment. Factors that affect body image include: Age — body image develops at a young age, but dissatisfaction with body image may become more prevalent in mid life or as people age. Puberty, pregnancy and after giving birth — times when the body changes naturally, can be times when body dissatisfaction may increase. Personality — high achievers and perfectionists are more at risk of being dissatisfied with their bodies. Being teased or bullied — this can lead to an increased risk of developing poor body image, especially if subject to discrimination due to weight. Having mental health problems — suffering from depression or anxiety leads to a greater risk of negative body image. Poor role models — being exposed to poor role models in relation to unhealthy attitudes to body image, exercise and eating, such as restrictive dieting and excessive exercise can lead to negative body image. Why is negative body image an issue? If you have a negative body image, you might: think you look too fat feel like you're not pretty or muscular enough believe your value as a person is determined by your looks be fixated on trying to change your body shape Having a sustained unhealthy body image can make people susceptible to developing an eating disorder, and to become fixated on changing their body shape, via exercise, supplements or food. It can be associated with illnesses that affect the mind and body such as body dysmorphic disorder (where a person becomes pre-occupied with a perceived defect in their appearance), anorexia nervosa and binge eating. It's beneficial to be aware of negative body image and actively attempt to develop a healthier body image. How to improve your body image Having an unhealthy body image is bad for general well being and can be time consuming. Below are a few tips for improving your body image: Question media images — we are bombarded with images of unrealistic and unobtainable bodies; try not to compare yourself with them and remember that often what you see on TV and online are not true depictions of real people. Avoid any media, social media or websites that make you feel bad or suggest you need to change the way you look. Focus on the positive things your body can do. Look for similarities between your body and the bodies of other members of your family. Wear clothes that make you feel comfortable. Try positive self-talk and avoid negative self-talk. Eat foods that make you feel healthy — don't obsess over kilojoule counts. Set health goals rather than weight-related goals Avoid being critical of other people's bodies — negative attitudes are contagious. Where to get help If you are not satisfied with your body or are developing unhealthy eating or exercise habits, you can seek professional help. There are counsellors and psychologists who have specialised knowledge and experience in body image. Call the Butterfly Foundation national helpline on 1800 33 4673 for support, information and access to resources or referrals to counsellors. How can parents help children with their body image? Parents have a big influence on how children feel about their bodies, sometimes not consciously. Encourage your children to have a healthy relationship with their bodies and with food. Your own attitude to your body will influence your children, so try not to be negative about your body. Try to project a feeling of being comfortable with your body. Help your child understand that images in the media are not realistic and help them to recognise diversity. Be alert to signs of body dissatisfaction, such as constant weighing, fussy behaviours and obsessions around foods and mealtimes. If you think your child has a problem with body image, you can speak to your doctor, or contact the Butterfly Foundation national helpline for advice on 1800 33 4673. Sources: ReachOut (Understanding body image), Butterfly Foundation (Body Image Explained), National Eating Disorders Collaboration (Body image), Butterfly Foundation (Body image tips for parents)
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Buying medicines online
How are medicines regulated?Buying medicine and other therapeutic goods from an online pharmacy has advantages, but you need to be careful. If you buy from an overseas website, there is a risk you could lose your money, break the law or seriously damage your health. Medicines are known legally as 'therapeutic goods'. To be sold in Australia and on websites operated by Australian companies, they must be assessed and approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA checks the quality of therapeutic goods, making sure that they are safe and they do what they are supposed to do. In addition to medicines, the TGA also checks the quality of goods such as:
- bandages, pregnancy tests, and artificial hips and knees
- complementary medicines, including vitamins
- sunscreen and other products that claim to protect skin from the sun
Buying prescription medicines in AustraliaIn Australia, some medicines are available only on prescription because doctors and other health professionals need to check that you really need them — and advise you on how to take them safely. Some medicines can have side effects and can interact with each other.
What are the benefits of buying prescription medicines online?Buying medicines online can sometimes work out cheaper and more convenient than getting them from a local pharmacy.
What are the risks of buying medicines online?If you buy medicines or other therapeutic goods online from an overseas source, you could risk your health, lose your money or potentially break the law.
Risks to your healthThe product you order might:
- be fake
- contain too much, or too little, of the active ingredients
- contain toxic or dangerous ingredients
- contain ingredients that are illegal in Australia
- be past their use-by date
You could lose your moneyThe medicines might never arrive. This could be because they were stopped by Australian customs because they contain ingredients you are not allowed to import. As with any purchase from an overseas business, you might not be protected by Australian consumer laws.
Buying medicines online and the lawIt is illegal to import some medicines, such as steroids and antibiotics.
What are things to consider when buying medicines online?Before buying medicines online, check to see if the pharmacy is based in Australia and that it is a legitimate business. The website should ideally show a physical address in Australia, an email address, a working phone number and more details about the company, such as an Australian Business Number (ABN). Check that you can ask questions over the phone. Check if you need to provide a prescription. Australian-based pharmacies only sell prescription medicines online if you provide a valid Australian prescription. Also think about how it will affect you if the post is delayed and you do not receive your medicine in time.
How can I safely buy medicines online?Follow these 3 steps:
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before buying medicines online.
- If you want to buy medicines online, buy them from a company based in Australia. Investigate the company thoroughly.
- Be wary of wild claims — if a therapeutic product or a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Where can I get help?
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Cycling is good for you!
What is cycling?Cycling or bike riding is the sport of riding a bicycle. It is a low impact exercise that can improve your mental and physical health. Riding a bike is a low-cost way to get around and is environmentally friendly. You can get to know your neighborhood in a different way by riding around your local streets. Cycling allows you to avoid high traffic areas and reduce your reliance on public transport. If you do not have access to a car or cannot drive, riding is a handy way to travel. A bicycle is not only cheaper to buy than a car, but needs no petrol and has few maintenance bills.
What are the health benefits of cycling?Heart health — Regular bike riding helps to reduce your risk of heart disease and related health conditions such as high blood pressure and stroke. It does this by strengthening your heart muscle and lowering your resting pulse rate. Riding on a regular basis can also reduce levels of fat in your blood and help you to manage your weight. Muscle strength — Regular riding helps build your muscles and makes you stronger and fitter. Cycling uses several muscle groups at the same time. Your legs to move the pedals, your core to keep you balanced and your arms to hold up your body and steer the bike. Balance — Bike riding helps to improve your balance and coordination that declines as you age. Plus, it reduces pain from stiff joints. Mental health — Bike riding can boost your mental health and has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety levels. It helps you to sleep better and decreases your risk of getting depression. Cycling triggers the release of natural endorphins — known as the 'feel-good chemicals — which improve your mood and sense of wellbeing. Low impact — Cycling is an example of low-impact exercise. Less weight or force bears down on your joints while you cycle. Because of this, people with arthritis and other joint conditions may find biking riding beneficial.
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