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Has anyone told you how loved you are lately? ‘Cause you are. You are so unbelievably loved it’s ridiculous. The challenging thing for many of us to realize is that, although we undeniably deserve love from those around us, the most important affection comes from within. Being mindful enough to practice self-love is challenging, oftentimes awkward, and much easier said than done, but you are the most important person in your life, so self-love should be the most important love of your life. Lifehack says it best: “It’s not about being self-absorbed or narcissistic, it’s about getting in touch with ourselves, our well-being and our happiness. We practice self-love so we can push through our limiting beliefs and live a life that truly shines.”
Oscar Wilde once said, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” As someone who struggled with an eating disorder, ie one of the most vicious methods of self harm, for over ten years, I understand how easily insecurity, anxiety, and/or judgement can get in the way of personal endearment. It’s taken years of counseling and cognitive-based therapy to get to the point I’m at today, and quite honestly, I can always use a reminder or suggestion in times of vulnerability. So, for you and for me, here are 25 applicable ways to practice self-love on a daily basis:
25 Ways to Practice Self-Love
1. Start the day with 10-15 minutes of meditation. It’s important to take time out to calm your mind every day. Breathe in and out, clear your mind of your thoughts, and just be present.
2. Be kind to yourself. Focus on your many positive qualities. Focus on your strengths, your abilities, and your admirable traits. Let go of harsh judgments, comparisons to others, and self-hatred.
3. Repeat 3-5 positive affirmations in the mirror every day. An example for me would be, “You are loved. You are worthy. You are enough.” If you have trouble coming up with things to say, make a list of all the things you like about yourself next time you’re feeling particularly proud or accomplished and refer to it in times of self doubt.
4. Accept your bad days as simply that– bad days. Be willing to embrace your imperfections, and don’t set such high standards for yourself emotionally, mentally, or (especially) physically. It’s normal to feel sadness, pain, and disappointment, as everyone experiences low points in life.
5. Consider seeing a counselor or life coach. The process of self-discovery can happen through the guidance of clinical therapy or counseling. This growth, and maybe even healing, can help you discover who you are and what obstacles are standing in your way of progress.
6. Eliminate toxic influences. Value your mental and emotional health by identifying stressors and cutting ties with that friend or romantic interest who finds joy or comfort in bringing you down.
7. Reach out to family, friends, healers, or whatever positive influence you need to help you through the tough times. You are not expected to go through them alone. Pick up the phone and call that old friend you haven’t spoken to in years. They’ll be happy to hear from you!
8. Step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Sign up for a new yoga class, go rock climbing, or audition for a play. Life is all about new experiences, so no matter how big your fear of failure or judgement, don’t sell yourself short by not indulging in newfound excitement.
9. Practice saying no. Saying no sometimes doesn’t make you a bad or negative person, it makes you a smart and conscientious person who has your best interest at heart.
10. Clean out your closet. Getting rid of old things will make room for new things to come in to your life!
11. Express gratitude. Rhonda Byrne, author of The Magic, shares with us a powerful way to change all of our relationships and our life by practicing gratefulness and regularly counting our blessings. She includes 28 practices for 28 days of your life to help you feel gratitude more deeply, and she encourages you to write out the following sentence for 10 items you’re grateful for everyday:
I am truly blessed to have ____________________________, because __________________ (why?) _____________.
12. Buy yourself fresh flowers or book a massage. You deserve them, and it’s okay to treat yourself.
13. Clean out your fridge and fill it with fresh, healthy, and delicious foods. Pull some exciting recipes off Pinterest and pledge to make yourself a deliciously extravagant dinner at least one night this week.
14. Play. We all had a favorite game(s) as a child– mine were Marco Polo and Stratego. Don’t be afraid to be silly and allow yourself to feel and enjoy that nostalgic childlike wonder. Pull out your board games, download a mindless app on your phone, or go ride a rickety carnival roller coaster. Have fun, smile, dance, and laugh. Let yourself feel and express the joy of life.
15. Spend time pampering yourself. Yes, you can book a massage or pedicure at a spa, but better yet, why not tap into your own mind-body-soul? Try to spend a few minutes daily massaging your feet or painting your fingernails. Tune into your own frequency and show yourself some physical, positive self love.
16. Go for a walk, run, or bike ride in times of negativity. Your body is your temple, so no matter how much you resist, practice a healthy self-care routine by getting up and moving when you start to judge or criticize yourself or your actions. Elle Woods said it best: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.”
17. Document daily reflections in a feelings journal or diary. You can do it any time, just try to make it a ritual during the same time each day. When you’re feeling lost or confused, re-read the entries where you felt proud or at peace for comfort. Never repress your emotions, instead listen to them with loving compassion and accept that you are and have always been an emotionally vulnerable human being.
18. Make a new bucket list and post it on your fridge. Develop some long-term plans or goals that’ll keep you looking forwards, not backwards.
19. Eat without your phone or computer nearby and put your fork down during bites. Enjoy and savor each and every taste. Although eating slowly is a common dieting practice, this is an exercise in mindfulness.
20. Start reading a great new book. If your current novel or TV show isn’t inspiring or motivating you, ditch it and pick up something that’ll enhance your life. I’ve created a list of the best career books for women (ie girlbosses) to read in 2015 and 2016, as well as a list of ten of my favorite books for understanding the importance of mental health.
21. Commit to volunteering once in the coming week. Obviously, volunteering can offer vital help to people in need, worthwhile causes you care about, and the community you live in, but the benefits can be even greater for you. Selflessly helping others can reduce stress, combat depression, keep you mentally stimulated, and provide a sense of purpose. To find opportunities near you, check out VolunteerMatch or Create The Good.
22. Practice accepting compliments with a simple “Thank You.” Accepting compliments doesn’t mean you’re arrogant or conceited. It’s healthy for both you and your relationship(s)– romantic, platonic, and professional. This will not only improve your own self-esteem, it also will make those giving the compliments feel as though their feelings are recognized and validated.
23. Book a trip. Travelocity makes it easy, believe me– it’s how I planned my entire solo wellness retreat on The Big Island in Hawaii. Even if it’s eight months in advance, research it, organize it, and book it. Studies show that we’re happiest and most hopeful when we have something to look forward to– so why not make it an upcoming girls weekend at the beach or solo trip through Europe?
24. Stop comparing yourself to others. I realize this is more easily said than done, but it’s more important than you realize. A study from the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that comparing your life to others on Facebook can lead to feelings of depression and loneliness, so try not to measure yourself or your accomplishments against the Hallmark-worthy exterior of others– on social media or otherwise.
25. Value your alone time. Many of us fear being alone, as we find ourselves lost in the maelstrom of our own thoughts without external distractions. Alas, with practice you can learn to use this time as a tool. Private moments of introspection in a comforting place will motivate you to continue nurturing and building your self-love.
Happy Monday, y’all! Show yourselves a little extra love today!