Self-love is the practice of valuing and accepting ourselves, without judgment. It means learning how to appreciate and accept ourselves, just as we are, and not trying to change ourselves to be the person that someone else wants us to be. It also means treating ourselves with the same kindness and compassion that we would treat a friend.
Why Is Self-Love Important?
There are so many benefits that comes from loving ourselves, but the main ones are as follows.
Increased Happiness And Well-being
When you we love ourselves, we’re more likely to feel happy and content with our lives. This can lead us to be more resilient when we face challenges.
Improving Self-Love Increases Self-Esteem
Self-love can also help us to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. We’re not talking arrogance, or developing a narcissist streak, more the act of believing in ourselves and our abilities.
When we love ourselves, we’re more likely to have healthier relationships with others. What’s the old saying, you have to love yourself before you can properly love anyone else? With self-love, we are also likely to be co-dependent, or to put up with unhealthy relationships. (See our article on getting rid of negative people for more info on why this is so important.)
Improved Self-Love Leads To Increased Productivity
While this may not immediately spring to mind, it’s true that self-love can help us to become more productive in our work. We’re more likely to take care of ourselves, and to set healthy boundaries in our personal lives. This in turn leads us to make more effective use of our time.
How To Practice Self-Love
Some of this is obvious: we hopefully all know that practising self-care on a daily basis will help towards self-love. The more time we spend on ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally, the more we’ll give ourselves the respect we so freely give to others.
Make time for activities that you enjoy, that make you feel good. Whether it’s reading, taking a long, leisurely bath, going for a walk, or listening to music: it all counts.
Recommended reading: I Heart Me: The Science of Self-Love*
Look After Your Health
It goes without saying that taking care of our physical health is essential. This includes choosing healthier foods, exercising, and trying to get more – and better – sleep. All of this helps us feel better, both physically and emotionally.
Challenge Those Negative Thoughts
When you experience negative thoughts about yourself, it’s important that you challenge them. Ask yourself if they’re really true, and if they’re not, try to replace them with more positive ones.
Be Kind To Yourself
We should all treat ourselves with the same kindness and compassion that we would our friends and family, but we often don’t. However, it’s important that we accept our mistakes and forgive ourselves for them. Also, remember to be patient with yourself as you grow and learn. All good things take time.
Setting goals and working towards them, then finally accomplishing them, boosts our self-esteem. It’s good to feel proud of what you’ve achieved, so embrace it.
Spend Time In Nature
Being in nature has been shown to boost self-esteem and reduce stress, so try and spend time outdoors as often as you can. A short walk if you’re able, having your morning coffee on the patio, or wandering around the garden if you have one – all of these small, simple things help to reduce stress and release those feel-good endorphins.
Connect With Others
Having strong social connections can help us feel loved and supported. Even if you’re not a particularly social person – if you consider yourself an introvert for example – you can still appreciate a close relationship with a small group of people, or even just one best friend.
This goes hand-in-hand with setting boundaries and learning to say no, especially if some people around you are toxic. See our article on weeding out negative people for more on this.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion. It helps us focus on the good things in our lives. Try keeping a daily gratitude journal. Each morning, write 3 things you’re grateful for, then repeat the exercise in the evening before going to sleep. These things could be as simple as having a roof over your head, having clothes to wear, being able to breathe, having children, etc.
You’ll probably find that you don’t want to stop at three items, so keep going as long as you want to. Chances are, you’ll find you have a lot more to be grateful for than you originally thought.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re really struggling with low self-esteem, or indeed any mental health issues, please don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A good therapist can help you to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
You can now find therapists online, but do your research. We’ve seen many YouTubers recommending BetterHealth therapists. Although we have no personal experience with them, they do have good reviews, so could be worth checking out.
It takes time and effort to develop a healthy sense of self-love, especially if we’ve been brought up to believe we’re not worthy of it. These beliefs may be artificial, in that we’ve interpreted things differently to how they were intended, but nevertheless, they’re very real to us. How we experience things is completely different to how someone else does.
Self-love is a journey, not a destination, but it’s worth taking that journey because self-love is the foundation for a happy and fulfilling life.
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