Self love should be a simple and automatic practice. You should be out there actively enjoying your experiences, speaking kindly to yourself and embracing all of who you are. But, obviously it’s much easier said than done.
Many of us struggle with a lack of confidence or self-esteem. Maybe you worry about things that you can’t change or you dislike parts of your body. Perhaps you feel flawed; therefore, never seem to come out on top when we compare ourselves to other people.
Even those of us that are relatively happy with who we are, spend our time working, attending to household duties, caring for children, aging parents, spouses, friends, relatives and if in the helping professions we are caring for clients. It’s all too common that we are rarely taking the time out of our busy days to actively love and care for ourselves.
When you practice self love you perform better at work. Your relationships flourish and you are confident, focused and committed. You are healthier because you take care of your body, therefore your mental health also benefits. Practicing self-love can help you to be a better partner, mother, worker, and friend. It’s undoubtedly worth committing some time to. But, where do you start on your self love journey? (Some of the following links are affiliate links which can pay small commissions).
6 Actionable Ways to Practice Self Love
1. Slow down and tune inward.
The key to the practice of self-love is taking time to be present, really slow down and tune into your inner self, your inner knowing. If you are always rushed and attending to the distractions of the external world, you will miss out on the messages your wise inner self is whispering. Give yourself the gift of focused quiet time every day.
Quiet and stillness lend to connecting to your own inner world.
Learn to practice seated meditation Or take an extra-long mindfulness shower in the morning, focusing on the sound and feel of the water, the scent of the shampoo, the sensation of the suds on your skin. Turn off the TV in the evening and indulge in some quiet contemplation while sipping a cup of chamomile tea on the porch. These purposeful mindful moments spent with yourself are a form of self care that create a pocket of time and space. This allows you to rest in simple awareness and soak up the nurturing of the present moment.
2. Care for your body.
The typical recommendations of exercise, health foods, drinking plenty of water and avoiding drugs, cigarettes and alcohol may seem like obvious advice. But in this high stress, fast paced society we live in, it’s all too easy to fall into unhealthy habits and neglect the needs of our bodies.
From my own experience, I recommend scheduling your exercise and healthy habits just as you would a client.
I also have found creating one new habit of focus each week helps yield a healthy lifestyle. You might purchase a 1/2 gallon container for your day’s supply of water and make sure you drink that entire amount each day. The next week you might focus on flossing your teeth every morning. You need to have a plan for self care every day. I have a resource page for holistic wellness support products you may find useful here.
Chemicals and pollutants continuously surround us. We put things on to our skin and into our bodies without thinking about the damage that it might do. We eat poorly, we drink too much alcohol and caffeine, and we fill up on sugar. Over time, this can all start to affect our bodies and mood. Sometimes, you need to reset yourself. It’s not enough to make cutbacks and changes. You might check into having tests run with a Naturopath or Medical doctor to discuss possibly using home kits and treatments such as permanent detox kits designed to flush out toxins.
But the most practical and useful way to have a clean healthy body is to eat lots of whole organic vegetables full of phytonutrients and fiber every day, drink plenty of water and avoid ingesting or encountering toxic substances. I have used essential oils and organic herbs for care of my own body and home for 25 years as a means of actively loving my family and my self.
3. Spend time in nature.
There is a book I recommend called, Your Brain On Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality, by Eva M. Selhub, MD and Alan C. Logan, ND that explains that research studies have demonstrated that actively spending time in natural surroundings has amazingly positive health impacts including increasing emotional strength when faced with challenging circumstances and having higher levels of vitality in every day life.
Time in nature has been proven to reduce stress and improve health.
Other scientific studies have shown that when we spend time near plant life such as trees and gardens our stress hormones decrease and there are lesser degrees of anxiety and depression and higher levels of resilience during stressful events. Practice self love for your whole self by making it a point to get out and spend time in nature on a regular basis as means of self love and self care.
4. Look for the helpers.
Dear Mr. Fred Rogers shared in an interview that his own mother told him, “Look for the helpers. There will always be helpers,” when there are scary events happening. He was making a point that if the media will show the rescue teams and the helping professionals as much as the scary events, children can be reassured there will be someone there to help when times get tough. The same goes for we adults.
There is always someone who can help.
If you can consciously choose to seek out those who are able to help in times of need, the stressful events you encounter won’t feel so overwhelming. There are professionals and experts trained in just about anything you may need help with. You are not alone. Look for the helpers. This is source of self-love to reassure yourself you can always find the help you need.
5. Learn to say no.
You can still be kind and polite while practicing the power of no. Be mindful of guarding your time, space and energy and do not hesitate to set boundaries and turn people down when they ask for what you have when you don’t really have it to give.
Knowing how to say no is way to honor your time, space and energy.
Helping professionals especially tend to over-extend in our natural inclination to be of service to others. Learn how to say no. Here are some examples of ways you can say no without burning bridges or feeling like a heel
“Thank you for the invitation but I’m not going to be able to join you this time. Perhaps another time!”
“I won’t have time today but I will be happy to reach out as soon as my schedule frees up.”
“No, this seats is reserved for my friend.”
“I will not be able to take you on as a client at this time and I’ll be happy to provide some names of others you can reach out to.”
“It’s not going to work out for me to be on this project right now but I know you’ll find just the right person for the job.”
6. Stop comparing.
We’re all guilty of scrolling through Instagram or Facebook admiring the images and reports of success and the high life others all seem to be having. We look at other people’s seemingly perfect this or perfect that and we compare ourselves and our own lives and somehow come out feeling less than.
Love yourself enough now to decide to put a stop to this comarisonitis.
Remind yourself that people only share what they want others to see and even then, they filter it to perfection. It’s not all of their real life. Then, turn your focus on an attitude of gratitude, consciously choosing to focus on all that is right and good about yourself, your body, your life just the way it is.
Self love requires conscious, dedicated practice every day. If you find it difficult to implement these strategies remember #4. There is help available. I’m happy to speak with you about counseling or coaching services with myself or I can provide a referral to a trusted colleague. Contact me personally and let’s see how I may be of support.