Self-love is an important aspect to incorporate into one’s growth and well-being. Self-love is a state of appreciation for oneself and actions that support physical, psychological, and spiritual growth.1 Showing self-love benefits your mental health, which is essential to your overall well-being and happiness. The human body works in mysterious ways, and something as simple as showing yourself love can significantly impact your health. There are three ways I show myself love, being mindful, practicing good self-care, and making room for healthy habits, which have all been beneficial for a happier, healthier life.
To start showing love for oneself and living in the benefits, the first thing to be done is to be mindful of your thoughts and actions. Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the environment through a gentle, nurturing lens. 2 In other words, notice your feelings and emotions, where they are coming from, and why you feel that way.
An example is when you are upset about something that happened, take time and acknowledge that you are upset and why you feel this way. Also, do not be mad at yourself for handling your emotions. I would recognize my feelings and their reason and tell myself it’s okay. I’m upset, sad, or angry for this reason, and it’s okay.
One way to be mindful is to start a mindfulness journal. Journaling is a way to express your feelings and emotions and write down your thoughts. 3 It can be challenging and almost impossible to sit down and figure your thoughts out in public when a situation happens. A tip I do is to write it down in my notes tab on my phone. Try to jot down a tiny description of what happened and my emotions/ actions and go through them when I have time.
Another way to be mindful is to meditate, more specifically, mindful meditation. This type of meditation is helpful because it allows you to sit with your thoughts without any distractions and acknowledge them freely.4 Mindful meditation works best for me when I have too many thoughts roaming in my head and have more than one emotion. Meditation on my feelings helps me go through them without hurting my hand by trying to write them all down.
The ultimate mindfulness is to acknowledge that you need help to sort through your thoughts and emotions. Seeing a therapist is nothing to be ashamed of. I have been to a therapist, and it was the best decision I could have made for myself. Life is hard and can be very confusing, and we all need someone to talk it through with. Relationships, work, school, social life, and being alone can have different effects on different people, and you should be proud of seeking help to sort through your life. You are not alone and shouldn’t have to figure life out yourself when you need help.
Practicing Good Self-Care
According to the Global Self-Care Federation, self-care is the practice of individuals looking after their health using the knowledge and information available. 5 Practicing good self-care means making the conscious decision to do what is right for oneself. Self-care is a choice. Below are a few ways I like to practice self-care.
Working the body is just as important as working the mind. I habitually work out at least 3 to 4 times a week. And the workouts do not need to be hours long; 30 minutes is good enough. Exercise could be anything from lifting weights to walking your neighborhood. Moving your body has many benefits. One is losing or gaining weight, but you also start to feel good inside. Your energy level increases, you sleep better at night, and it can even reduce stress.
Intuitive eating s when you eat to nurture the body. In other words, if you feel hungry, eat. This way of thinking about food and your body has changed the diet culture and is better than counting calories or going with specific diets. Dieting can feel restricting and makes it harder to go out when all a person is thinking about is, ‘what can I eat?’ Intuitive eating lets you eat and think about healthy choices without feeling like you have to punish yourself.
A good skincare routine can make you feel like a new person whenever you wash your body. Exfoliating, washing, and putting on body oils and lotions make me feel fresh, and my body feels loved and cared for. I have two routines, one in the morning that makes me feel like I can conquer the world and a night routine that rejuvenates my body and prepares me for a good night’s rest.
Creativity is a good self-care for me since I am naturally creative. Allowing myself time to let my creative nature flow and take flight brings joy to my life. Those moments will enable me to find peace, and what’s better self-care than being at peace?
Going to the doctor is very important to me. My family has a history of health concerns, so discussing these with my doctors and getting tips on avoiding these problems is key to my self-care. I also believe in holistic healing with herbs and tonics. You can heal or maintain healthy living without overusing pills and over-the-counter medication.
Taking Breaks for Myself
Taking breaks from social media and the news is essential to your mental health and is good practice for self-care and self-love. The world can be a lot sometimes, and it can get overwhelming seeing things in the news that upsets you. Social media can be addicting, and taking breaks can be good for your mental and eye health. I take breaks, maybe every three months, to focus on myself. I turn off all notifications on all my social apps and make plans for other activities to take up the time that I would spend on my phone. These activities include a list of books I want to read, physical activities such as yoga and hiking, and maybe a few skill classes on places like Youtube or Udemy that I’m interested in.
Making Room for Healthy Habits
Healthy habits are things you do that are good for you. Healthy habits are usually challenging to do and incorporate into your life. I am still learning to make room for healthy habits in my life. Some examples of healthy habits that I have incorporated into my life are listed below.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries has been one of the hardest and most beneficial things I’ve learned. First, I had to understand what I was okay with and what I was not. This will be different for each person because they struggle with something and might find it unacceptable and not tolerate it. For example, with me, I will not take being ignored because it brings up some childhood trauma for me. Or being made fun of for how I talk because, in some people’s eyes, I talk “white,” and being a black person, talking white is not accepted in some black communities. At least, that’s how I felt growing up. So again, childhood trauma.
Talking To and About Yourself with Love
I grew up hearing a lot of negative talk around the house. My mom did not like many things about herself, and even though she never said anything negative about me herself, just hearing her talk about herself in such a bad way, I also developed those habits. I am still trying to break out of the habit of calling myself ‘fat,’ ‘ugly,’ and ‘stupid.’
What helps is that I think about my future kids and how I don’t want them to say the same things about themselves when they are older. I want them to look in the mirror and be happy and proud of who they are. So, if I started talking about myself because of what I heard from my mother, my kids would do the same. Now I look in the mirror at myself, say affirmations, and be thankful for my body, brain, and abilities, no matter how big or small.
Another healthy habit to make room for self-love is to learn to forgive yourself. We are our own worst critics. We give ourselves a brutal beating because of something we did or said, and the other person doesn’t even remember it. How many of us have ever done something and said, ‘well, it’s not that great.’? How many of us have beaten ourselves up over something so minor we did years ago? I know I have. Stop it!
We are all amazing, and no one deserves to have something hanging over their heads for the rest of their life. At this time, I like to write down what I cannot forgive myself for and why I think I deserve this. I would pretend it was someone I love very dearly, and they felt the same way. What would I do? Would I tell them, no, you can’t forgive yourself, or would I be more understanding and tell them there is no reason for you to beat yourself up about this? Now, why would I treat myself any differently?
Break from Self-Judgment
After you forgive yourself, it’s time to stop judging yourself. Self-judgment is the process of forming an opinion about oneself; this results in feelings such as anxiety, anger, and depression. 6 Self-judgment is an unhealthy habit many develop to protect themselves from being hurt. Because if you are hard on yourself, it won’t hurt as bad when other people are. If you set yourself up for failure, you can’t let other people down, or they won’t be as disappointed in you.
This way of thinking is unhealthy, and it can, and in my own experience, will lead you down a very dark path. I learned very late in life that failure and bad things will happen. It is a part of life. It is how we handle it that matters. Again, I employ you to try the activity above when you start to judge yourself. How would you treat a loved one if they began to feel the way you do? Would you let them wallow in their judgment, think the worst in themselves, or tell them it’s okay?
What are the Benefits of Showing Self-Love
The benefit of self-love is being able to accept oneself here and now. It is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and love every part of yourself from head to toe, inside and out. The benefit of seeing the beauty of who you are when you look and feel yourself. It is wanting to care for yourself, your body, your mental health, your emotions, and your spiritual needs. The benefit of pursuing what is best for you, listening to yourself, and being true to yourself.
Here I have listed a few self-love affirmations I say to myself. Write them down, and keep a note on your phone or in your pocket to remind you.
- I am courageous, and I stand up for myself.
- I am allowed to take up space.
- I don’t deserve to be hurt, even by myself.
- I deserve all the good things I have in my life.
- I love myself just as I am today.
- I am talented. I am smart. I am good.