“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” Every RuPaul’s Drag Race fan has undoubtedly chanted along with his iconic mantra, but that doesn’t mean they’re all putting his philosophy into action. Self-love seems to be the buzzword of the day, yet for many, this popular concept remains alien and unclear.
So what is it, and why is it so important to practice? How is it possible to show yourself, love? Read on to finally understand what self-love means, as well as some practical advice to make it part of your daily routine.
What is Self-Love?
First of all, it’s more than a feeling. It’s not the same as self-esteem, although they are definitely related. Self-love refers to the actions you take that improve your relationship with yourself. It means consciously reflecting on your needs — whether they are physical, spiritual, or emotional — then caring for yourself with the same effort and attention you’d give somebody else.
“Isn’t that just being selfish?” you ask. No, but that’s a common misconception. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that self-sacrifice is what makes us worthy of others’ love. We need to challenge this myth and realize that self-love isn’t a luxury; it’s fundamental to our wellbeing.
Why Practice Self-Love?
People who prioritize self-love make healthier decisions in life. They accept who they are, and they are in touch with their needs, so they know what to do to look after themselves.
Importantly, psychology studies have shown that self-love is a key factor in resilience against mental health problems such as anxiety and burnout. Regular self-love practice also keeps you connected to your values, giving you the motivation to live life to the fullest — whatever that looks like for you.
Recharging your energy through self-love means you’re better equipped to fulfill your potential, take on responsibility, and support others. In this way, it’s the least selfish thing you could do!
20 Ways To Practice Self-Love
- Use positive affirmations! Take notice of how you speak to yourself, and try to silence your inner critic. When you make a mistake, give yourself the same understanding and forgiveness you’d extend to a close friend. A good start is to begin each day with three things you like about yourself.
- Accept and love your body as it is right now. Very few people are 100% satisfied with their physical appearance, but that doesn’t mean you have to be at war with your body. When you feel tempted to criticize it, thank it for all it allows you to do instead.
- Be smart on social media. Don’t get caught in the comparison trap! Curate your feed, so it’s full of empowering and inspiring content that makes you feel positive and motivated. Remember that posts portraying perfection don’t reflect reality.
- Journal each day. Devoting some time each day to conscious reflection will keep you in touch with your emotions, so you better understand what provokes them. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, there are prompts available online to get you started.
- Try mindfulness. Even just ten minutes a day of breathing exercises can have an amazingly calming effect. In times of heightened stress, these techniques are excellent tools for grounding yourself, so you feel more capable and in control.
- Embrace your inner child. Remember what you enjoyed doing when you were young. Devote some time to doing exactly that, even if it feels silly. In fact, especially if it feels silly! You’re never too old to play, and it’s a great stress-reliever.
- Move. Find a movement that feels comfortable and enjoyable for you. Don’t restrict yourself to punishing workouts that you dread all day. Instead, move in ways that are liberating. Take pleasure in what your body can do and respect its limits.
- Seek professional help. There are very few people in the world who would not benefit from a therapist session. Find someone suitable for your needs and, if you can, commit to investing time and money in your mental and emotional wellbeing.
- Take up a hobby. Often, work concerns dominate our adult lives. However, it’s still important to indulge our creative and experimental side. Try something new without forcing yourself to try and be the best at it. Instead, simply enjoy the experience and notice how you feel after taking on a new challenge.
- Spend time in nature. Going outside, even just for a short walk, can have incredible rejuvenating effects on our psyche. Take time to absorb and appreciate your surroundings. It may just give you a fresh perspective on your day!
- Forgive yourself. Notice when you’re obsessing over mistakes you made before. Remind yourself that nobody’s perfect and that it’s impossible to change the past. You’re not defined by your lowest moments!
- Forgive others. When we carry around old grievances, it’s our shoulders that ache. Letting go doesn’t mean what they did was ok; it just means you don’t want to hold it anymore. This frees up space in your heart and your head.
- Cultivate good relationships. Quality is what counts, not quantity. Focus on the relationships that are honest, supportive, and uplifting. If your interactions with a friend consistently drain you, the relationship may not be working for you anymore. And that’s ok!
- Practice gratitude. It’s easy to focus on what goes wrong in life and take for granted what’s going right. Draw your brain’s attention towards the good things by writing down or speaking aloud everything you’re grateful for each day. These can be as small as a cup of coffee or as big as the love of your family.
- Live with a clear conscience. That doesn’t mean a life without making mistakes. It simply means being honest with yourself and others and being accountable for your actions at all times. When you know that you’ve tried your best in your heart, you avoid feeling burdened by guilt and shame.
- Nourish yourself. Eating well isn’t about imposing unnatural restrictions on your consumption. Eat to thrive, not simply to survive, and remember that your body needs fuel to function.
- Schedule relaxation. Don’t wait until you’re at the point of exhaustion to rest. Instead, treat rest as an important priority that deserves regular space in your diary. Use this as a guilt-free time to do exactly what you want — whether that’s an afternoon of trashy television, reading in the garden, or an indulgent siesta.
- Perform essential maintenance. Stay up-to-date on personal grooming. Ensure you’re attending regular appointments at the doctor and dentist. Don’t allow the rush of your routine to distract you into neglecting yourself.
- Enforce your boundaries. If you’re a people-pleaser, you may find yourself saying “yes” when your heart says “no.” You can care for others without sacrificing yourself. Practice putting your own needs first from time to time. They’re equally important.
- Live consciously. Focus energy and attention on your dreams. Life moves fast, and the greatest act of self-love is to ensure that you don’t miss out on what matters to you.
Give these tips a try to see how self-love can change your life. After all, the most important relationship you’ll ever have is your relationship with yourself!