Loving Yourself Is Vital to Living Well
It’s no secret that it’s important to have compassion for others. Compassion promotes meaningful connections with the people around you and pushes you to address cruelty, inequality, and struggles others may experience. Compassion also allows you to show kind and loving behavior. If compassion can do all of this for your relationships with others, imagine how having compassion for yourself can improve your life.
Life Without Self Love
I know how difficult it can be to show yourself love and compassion, but many studies in psychology support its importance for both strong mental health and for keeping depression at bay. It is especially important for anyone struggling with substance use, as we so often strive for impossible-to-achieve perfection on the road to recovery. When we are too hard on ourselves or cannot meet the demands of perfection we’ve placed on ourselves, it’s common to become overly self-critical. This can chip away at your self-worth and decrease your overall happiness.
Unsurprisingly, the negative effects of perfectionism and self-deprecation can manifest in both mental and physical health problems. Anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, eating disorders, fibromyalgia, and even a shorter lifespan are conditions associated with being a perfectionist. Recovering from some health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, and substance use disorder (SUD) is also harder for perfectionists.
Move Towards Self-Love
Now that we understand how perfectionism can negatively harm our lives, the next step is determining how we can move towards self-love and compassion. The first step is to acknowledge you no longer want to be held back by perfectionism and intend to shift toward a healthier relationship with yourself. Making this choice can help you learn how to show yourself love, as many psychologists agree this tactic is one that can be learned.
Benefits of Self Compassion
We’ve discussed the negative effects of perfectionism, but there are benefits to dedicating the time to learning self-love. In addition to counteracting the adverse effects of perfectionism, self-love can reduce anxiety, build resilience in adversity, and help you recover more quickly from trauma or relationship separation.
It can also reduce how frequently you compare yourself to others and increase the comfort you have with yourself, resulting in personal acceptance. All of this contributes towards improving your physical, emotional, and mental well-being, meaning you’re more likely motivated to make healthy life choices.
Ideas for Practicing Self Love
Loving yourself is not easy, so I’ve compiled a list of actions that can help you take the first steps toward achieving self-compassion. Choose the options that will help you value and foster your own needs, desires, and wants.
Schedule Time With a Therapist or Counselor
Finding a therapist that meets your schedule needs can sometimes be challenging. It may be even more challenging to find a therapist that you trust to discuss family matters and topics that are deeply personal. However, they’re an excellent resource to help you identify areas where your mental health could be improved, making it easier to love yourself. An added benefit today post COVID many therapists are doing tele-health sessions, it makes it even easier and more convenient to connect!
Understand your values, beliefs, and what makes you tick as a person. Discover what makes you happy and helps you feel at peace. Identifying these things will help you love yourself better.
Adopt a Pet
The unconditional love that pets give their humans is unmatched. Combine that with their antics and the laughter they’ll cause, you have a recipe for a happy home that’s truly a mood booster. Volunteering with a shelter or fostering is a good option for exposure to animals if you are not in a place to commit to adoption.
Demanding that others respect your boundaries is a vital part of self-care. Understand when to say no, then give yourself permission to do so without feeling guilty. It’s more difficult to love yourself when people fail to respect you or your boundaries.
Spend Time in Nature
There are therapeutic benefits associated with being outdoors, especially if you include the people you care about. This can be accomplished through gardening, hiking on wooded trails, or even finding greenspace to read a book. These activities can offer mental health benefits that make self-love easier.
Make Your Home Your Sanctuary
Creating happiness should be the goal for the things in your home. Memories in picture frames, plants, or art that brings you joy should fill your home. If your home is your sanctuary, then you deserve a sanctuary that helps you find peace and self-love.
While phones can connect us with people and things we enjoy, social media can be a source of negativity. Placing your phone in a do not disturb mode or leaving it on silent in a different room can provide you with quiet from the constant notifications. Peace can be found in this quiet.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Other people’s successes or failures are simply that: their own. You and your life should not be measured against others- the only life that should affect your mental state is your own. There’s no timeline for a successful life. Self-love is easier if you’re not constantly measuring yourself against someone else’s yardstick.
Treating yourself does not have to be expensive or extravagant, and the important part of treating yourself is that it does not need to be earned. Give yourself a treat “just because” – just because it’s a Tuesday, just because the weather is nice, or even just because you woke up that morning. Value yourself simply as you are and treat yourself for it.
Use Your Strengths
It’s easy to focus on our own weaknesses and struggles but identifying our strengths and making an effort to use them can dramatically improve the quality of your life. You have strengths. They may be different from others, but that shouldn’t stop you from applying them to make your life better. Using your strengths can do wonders to improve your self-worth.
To err is to be human—perfection is not possible and should not be expected. Dwelling on your mistakes doesn’t erase the situation, nor does it change it. Embrace your mistakes, learn from them, and then move on. Hindsight is always 20/20, and you cannot judge your past self on the lessons you know now. Offer yourself some grace and forgiveness.
Schedule something fun for you and/or your family each week. Don’t allow other responsibilities to cancel all the fun in your life. Fun is just as important as sleep for your mental health. Becoming bogged down with the monotonous responsibilities in your life will lower your self-image and reduce your ability to love yourself.
There are numerous mental and physical benefits to being active daily. This does not necessarily mean strenuous exercise; it can simply be a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood or on a walking trail. The mental boost from being active can allow time that’s easier to fill with self-love.
Take Some Alone Time
It’s alright to demand time to yourself without interruption. Lock the door and take a shower, take a drive to the store by yourself – whichever method will fill your requirement for the space you need. Unapologetically filling this need is a way of showing love to yourself.
Taking a moment to appreciate the positive things in your life can help reframe your mind into recognizing your blessings more than your curses. Loving yourself and your life is difficult if the only things you can focus on are negatives, so set aside time to be grateful for the good around you. This can be accomplished by keeping a gratitude journal.
Find a quiet and comfortable place where you can sit and meditate for a period of time. Different meditation techniques are available to you. The mindfulness discovered during meditation is an amazing way to show yourself compassion.
Use Your Words
Ask for the things you need. The people around you are not mind readers and need you to let them know when your needs are not being met. Asking for help from trusted loved ones shows yourself love by identifying your needs and recognizing you need help in meeting them.
Take a Bath
Create a relaxing area with dimmed lights, candles, and Epsom salts in warm water. Soak in the water while directing your mind space toward positive emotions and thoughts. Take this time to catalog both your body and how the water feels against your skin. Self-love can sometimes look like a little pampering.
Spend Quality Time With Those That Love You
Schedule a date with your loved one or plan an event for your friends. The people important to you care about you and putting yourself in a situation to feel those emotions is a strong boost to your mental health. Recognizing that others love you is important for self-love.
It’s emotionally unhealthy to bottle up and lock away the things you’re feeling. Let those emotions out, even if that means crying. As much as our society shies away from crying, there are benefits to expressing your emotions in this way.
Success With Self Love
It can take a long time and a lot of effort to silence the bully in your own mind, so give yourself time to change the way you treat yourself. The most important part is simply taking the first step and acknowledging that you want to be better in your relationship with yourself. I believe that you can make this change, and the benefits will truly enhance the way you live each day.