Supporting those that we love is second nature for many women.
From sacrificing what you really desire because you're afraid of letting others down to remaining in relationships that don't fully honor or support you, women will push themselves beyond human limitations to ensure that everyone else is okay. But let's be real if your cup is empty, can you effectively support those that need you the most?
In as much as you want to take care of and love others, it starts with you. Therefore, self-love is critical to both your mental health and the development of a healthier relationship with yourself and others. As you develop a high regard for yourself and your own personal well-being, you'll love others without losing yourself in the process. Self-Love will teach you to say – I Choose Me.
WHAT IS SELF-LOVE?
Before we can practice it, we must first understand what it means.
Self-love is a feeling of admiration for oneself that stems from actions that promote our physical, psychological, and spiritual development. Self-love entails having a high regard for one's happiness and well-being. Self-love entails taking care of one's own needs rather than sacrificing one's well-being to please others. Finally, self-love entails refusing to accept less than you deserve.
Because we all have different ways of taking care of ourselves, self-love can mean other things. Therefore, developing an understanding of what self-love looks like for you as an individual is also critical for your mental health.
What does self-love mean to you?
For starters, it can imply:
Lovingly speaking to and about yourself.
Setting yourself as a priority.
Allowing yourself to be free of self-judgment.
Believing in yourself.
Being honest with yourself.
Being gentle with yourself.
Establishing healthy boundaries.
Forgiving yourself when you aren't being true to yourself or being nice to yourself.
Self-love is another word for self-care for many people. To practice self-care, you must frequently disconnect from the needs of others and:
Pay attention to your body.
Disconnect from the technology and connect with yourself by doing something creative and enjoyable.
Eating healthy while occasionally indulging in your favorite foods.
Show kindness and compassion towards yourself.
Remain true to yourself, even if it means disappointing others.
Self-love entails accepting yourself for who you are. It involves accepting your emotions as they are and prioritizing your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Steps to Practice Self Love Everyday
1. Identifying and acknowledging your emotions
Nobody is always happy. Holding yourself to reasonable standards is an essential part of self-love. It would be ideal if you recognized that some days are better than others and that it is perfectly acceptable to have a bad day, week, or even a down period. It is critical to check in with your emotional state regularly to recognize and accept your moods. In practice, this means not acting as if everything is fine when you know it isn't. How frustrated do you get when someone says, "I'm fine" or "It's nothing," when they aren't okay, and something is happening? Don't engage in the same games with yourself. Pay attention to your emotional state so you can act and plan accordingly!
2. Get enough sleep
Sleep is crucial, but it is often overlooked in this day and age. It's sometimes easy to justify staying up late and getting up early so that you can fit everything in to your day. However, when you have many things on your plate or you wear multiple hats, it becomes easier to legitimize late evenings and early mornings to squeeze everything in. Yet, if sacrificing your sleep becomes the norm, your mental and physical health will suffer.
When you're on the journey to self-love, it's critical to maintain your physical and mental health to have the time and energy to work on your emotional and mental health, as well as self-love. Getting enough sleep is critical for all aspects of health! In addition to getting enough sleep, pay attention to the quality of your sleep. Developing a bedtime routine is an excellent first step toward increasing the quantity and quality of your sleep. There are numerous sleep apps available on the market to help you track your sleep and fall asleep.
Physical activity has a strong influence on your mood, as well as your physical and mental health. Exercise can increase endorphins and help relieve the stress that develops in your life. If you are highly stressed, adding another task (such as going to the gym) to your to-do list may seem overwhelming. However, exercise does not have to be synonymous with sweating it out in the gym! It's usually as simple as taking a walk on your mid-day break or completing 30 minutes of yoga. It can even entail taking the stairs rather than the elevator or parking in the farthest available space in the parking lot. Regardless of what you choose, creating a routine that incorporates exercise into your daily life will help you maintain your mental and physical health while also assisting you with your journey to self-love.
4. Eating habits
How can you love yourself if you consume foods that are not in your best interest? Focusing on your eating habits is another significant part of self-care. Healthy eating does not necessitate constant dieting! It's not so much about your weight as it is about how you feel. Pay attention to foods that upset your stomach (many people have food intolerances that they are completely unaware of!) and include the major food groups. Eating more nutritional foods can also improve your short-term memory. Foods such as fatty fish, nuts, leafy greens, and antioxidant-rich foods (blueberries, acai berries) can promote a healthy brain function.
5. Using self-talk
Learning to engage in positive self-talk is an integral part of your self-care journey. Self-talk is the inner dialogue that runs through your head the majority of the time. Self-talk is something done unconsciously, and indicative of your subconscious thoughts and feelings. Your self-talk can be extremely negative at times, leading to feelings of self-doubt, self-judgment, and even self-loathing. If you find that your inner critic is predominantly negative, there are methods you can use to shift your negative internal dialogue to a more confident one. Giving yourself positive affirmations is a simple and effective way to accomplish this. What qualities do you admire about yourself? What are you particularly proud of? Reminding yourself of these things daily (for example, as part of your morning routine as you brush your teeth) can put you in a more positive frame of mind, which will naturally encourage positive self-talk.
6. Forgiving yourself
It entails practicing self-compassion. We as a whole commit errors – of all shapes and sizes, and keeping in mind that at the time they may appear weighty, they most likely aren't. Life continues onward, thus should you. Accepting self-compassion allows you to reflect on your actions with kindness, empathy, and support, allowing you to forgive yourself for whatever happened. Holding a grudge against yourself can be just as harmful as holding a grudge against someone else. Grudges necessitate the retention of a tremendous amount of negative energy, which can be extremely exhausting. However, forgiving yourself for your negative thoughts about yourself will free up your energy and emotional capacity, allowing you to embrace a more loving behavior.
7. Committing to self-love
Achieving self-love is a process that does not happen overnight. It can take a long time to break the bad habits that contribute to how you have learned to treat yourself. It is critical to remember that this is a process that will require time and commitment. Self-love does not require immediate gratification, so don't lose sight of the little things that bring you joy while you're on this journey.
We live in an era where the media tells us how to dress, eat, and act—and the list goes on. It's simple for somebody to become involved with this materialistic reality where you center around your defects instead of recognizing and appreciating the unique, extraordinary being that you are. You must learn to love yourself on your best and worst days. When doing so, you will recognize that external approval is not needed in your life. You no longer find it necessary to be a people-pleaser because the only person who needs your approval is you.
As much as we may not like it, we all have insecurities and flaws that we wish we could change about ourselves, but let us learn to accept them. I've come to the conclusion that truly loving yourself entails accepting all of your flaws. Recognize that not being a perfect weight, having the perfect smile, dressing a certain way, or hanging out with the "popular" crowd do not define who you are. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is how you feel about yourself. There isn't a single way to be beautiful. It simply means that we must seek the beauty within ourselves rather than comparing ourselves to some societal standard.
Loving yourself entails determining what truly makes you happy. Whatever others may think of a particular hobby or job, it should not matter if it is something you enjoy doing.
Above all, learn to love yourself before you can love others. A relationship is riddled with flaws and self-doubt. It's a work in progress, but appreciating your worth before falling for someone else reflects the type of person you are. How can you expect someone else to love, respect, and honor you, when you don’t? I am a firm believer that you must teach others how to treat you, but how can you teach what you don’t do!
I hope that after reading this, you understand the significance of loving yourself. Be different, be wild, be extra, but most importantly, be you.
LaMora Pace, LCSW, CAP
Founder/CEO at Healing Hearts Behavioral Health Care, LLC