Self-love11 Ways to Love Yourself More

11 Ways to Love Yourself More

You’ve probably heard that the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself.

Now, really… what does that mean? How can you have a relationship with yourself?

If you are newer to cultivating a relationship with yourself (i.e., loving yourself more), this may seem overwhelming or vague. Fortunately, there are some practical methods to assist you on this exciting journey of loving yourself more.

As a practice, self-love is intentional, and it takes effort and practice. This is no small feat nor are there any shortcuts (sorry). Loving yourself will be a journey of actually rewiring your brain; it takes paving new neural pathways toward life-giving, fulfilling thoughts and kicking tired, negative narratives to the curb (eh, who needs ‘em). It’ll be great! Ready to get after it?

If you don’t believe that you’re worth all this fuss, then that’s even more reason to drop what you are doing and read intently.

Let’s start with our bodies…

1.  Get moving

Physical exertion floods your body and brain with feel-good endorphins, while also helping to improve and strengthen body weight and shape, mental and emotional well-being, and internal organs like the heart and lungs. The benefits are endless. If you are new to regular physical exertion, some of your options include, but are not limited to, running, walking, yoga, Pilates, martial arts, aerial arts, hiking, biking, and swimming. Basically, physical exertion begins with finding ways to avoid sitting all day.

Because movement helps improve physical, mental, and emotional states, this is an important starting point to loving yourself more. The correlation between the commitment to investing in your body through movement (and nutrition too—more on that in a moment) and the commitment to loving yourself is no accident. This is a key step in sending a loud and clear message to your body, mind, and soul that you are in it for the long haul.

2.  Nutrition matters

It really does. Like many aspects of self-love, your body works in a way that is a lot like garbage in, garbage out. You cannot expect to function, think, love, work, or play when you feel like “you-know-what.” More importantly, healthy nutrition attributes to healthier bodies, minds, and emotional states, which can ultimately result in a healthier, more vibrant you.

It really does. Like many aspects of self-love, your body works in a way that is a lot like garbage in, garbage out. You cannot expect to function, think, love, work, or play when you feel like “you-know-what.” More importantly, healthy nutrition attributes to healthier bodies, minds, and emotional states, which can ultimately result in a healthier, more vibrant you.

  • Keep it mostly plant-based. Though there is some heated debate on the health benefits and efficacy of eating meat at all, most experts agree unanimously that all diets should consist mostly of plants.
  • Keep it colorful. Variety is the spice of life, as they say. When eating mostly plants, it is important to pay attention to the color spectrum on your plate. Are you eating only green things like lettuce and spinach? What about plants like sweet potatoes (orange), bananas (yellow), beets (purple), blueberries (blue), and radishes (red)?
  • Keep it whole. For example, if you have to chose between eating an apple or eating applesauce, go for the apple. Why? Because eating foods as close to their natural state as possible is key to digestion, absorption and receiving the optimal benefit from the food you are eating.
  • Keep it clean. Buying organic matters. It is just the reality of living in this day and age, where even our air, soil and water are contaminated, and buying organic helps to increase the odds that the foods you are consuming are as close to the real unadulterated thing as possible.

Lucky for you / me / us, there are more and more ways to buy organic plants while keeping it within our budgets. Some are delivered straight to your door! Imperfect foods has one such service. If boxes aren’t for you, you can also review the very helpful Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen lists put out and updated by EWG for produce you should buy organic whenever possible and for others you may not have to worry as much about.

At the end of the day, these are just guidelines, so it is important to learn how to listen to your body, do your own research, and eat in a way that is best for you.

3.  Detox your brain

Speaking of “garbage in, garbage out,” allow your brain to have regular breaks. Guarding your mental space is a key component to proper self-love and care.

Think on this for a minute: roughly one hundred and fifty years ago, people in the United States wouldn’t hear of a tsunami on the other side of the world until many months after it happened—if ever! By contrast, consider how much information we take in within minutes every single daily—whether it be good, bad, or ugly. {reflective pause} 

Regular detoxes from things like social media, reality TV shows, and the news are all very necessary for your mental and emotional health. It is encouraged to not only take longer fasts (for weeks, if possible) but also regular fasts (once a week or month) from media.

Sometimes, taking out the trash also means saying goodbye to toxic relationships. Another important theme for this journey of self-love is boundaries. It’s okay to install (or re-install) boundaries by re-evaluating the people you keep close in your life.

4.  Value your sleep

Sleep can be compared to a nightly spa visit for your body. This is when repair and rejuvenation are on full throttle. (This is also why it is important to avoid eating right before bed, so your body can spend its valuable repair time on restoration rather than digesting food.)

Keeping your bedroom dark also plays a significant role in the quality and duration of your sleep. Invest in high-quality blackout curtains, or if that’s not an option, an eye mask works just as well. Eliminate your exposure to blue light from electronics at least two hours before bedtime (or wear blue light glasses when coming in contact with electronic screens). Remove all electronics from the bedroom (i.e., keep the TV in the living room and put your phone in another room when you go to sleep).

Also, keep your bedtime as consistent as possible and ideally—a couple of hours—before midnight.

5.  Learn to say “No”

Think of it like this: “yes” is one of the ways that you can show others that you love them; “no” is one of the ways that you can show love to yourself.

Become friends with the word “no.” Rehearse it while looking in the mirror. Go over different scenarios in your head where you might need the word “no,” and imagine yourself saying it.

What is most important in this practice is ensuring that you follow through. Saying this two-letter word, then sticking to it, will help you prove to yourself that your boundaries, time, priorities, and decisions are valuable and should be taken seriously.

6.  Play like it’s your job

Enjoy. Your. Life. Time is not a renewable resource. Read that again.

It’s sad to think about going through life missing out on the moments and experiences that make it full. Playing requires firm boundaries (there’s that word again) in the same way that your work life does. Once you “clock in” to play, it is not the time for work. “Sorry, Office, I have a vacation to get to.” “It’ll have to wait, Deadline, nothing gets between me and my girls/guys night out.”

Playing is a fun way to confront fears, increase confidence, facilitate connection to yourself and/or others, calm a fried nervous system, and pump yourself up with lots of feel-good emotions that, in and of themselves, bring healing to old, internal wounds. Here are some ideas

to get you excited to take some time to play:

  • Take a disco dance class.
  • Join an adult kickball league.
  • Attend a community dinner party where you don’t know anyone.
  • Go skydiving.
  • Enroll in a horticulture class.

7.  Stop comparing yourself to others

The Social Comparison Theory is a fascinating study that, in short, is the “idea that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others.” You (hopefully) recognize the danger.

Though it’s possible to use comparison for our personal benefit, those instances typically require a fair amount of self-discipline to maintain. I do not doubt that you can do it, though. Learning healthy comparison can be a valuable tool in your arsenal of self-love. In the meantime, however, if more beneficial, cut out all sources of comparison. Trash those celebrity magazines. Step away from social media.

Learning a new internal narrative is ground zero. In addition to sitting down with yourself and starting a list of things that you like about yourself, loop in those who love you; ask them to also form a list of what they appreciate about you. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover. Yes, you really are that awesome.

Take your complete list and start formulating a new mantra. Repeat it daily, and then as necessary when the usual negative narrative clicks on. Some examples include:

  • I am enough, and I have enough time.
  • I am vibrant, thriving and getting better everyday.
  • I am surrounded by abundance; blessings cannot keep away from me.
  • I am healthy, beautiful, and proud to be in this skin.

8.  Forgive yourself (and keep forgiving yourself)

For most people, this is a tough one. Make no mistake, forgiving yourself is one of the kindest and most compassionate gifts that you can give yourself. But it can feel painful, awkward, and perhaps even impossible to step into the ring and fight for yourself in this way. You are not alone in feeling this way. It will take practice and commitment to keep showing up for yourself.

Practicing self-forgiveness requires acceptance of your actions with compassion and seriousness while extending abundant compassion to the part of you that may have acted out. From this place, allow yourself to fully let it go, in whatever way that does the trick (e.g., throwing rocks into an open field, having a good cry, or visualizing yourself walking away), then take a deep, cleansing breath and move on.

Repeat as necessary.

9.  Practice gratitude

As you journey through loving yourself more, start assembling a daily routine (preferably as soon as you wake up) of practicing gratitude. Before you get out of bed in the morning, even before you open your eyes, train your first thought to be one of gratitude. Here are some examples:

  • Thank you for this day.
  • Thank you that my body is revitalized, whole and fully equipped for this day.
  • Thank you for the gift of another breath.
  • Thank you that my life is coming together in ways better than I could ever hope or imagine.
  • This is the best day of my life!

Say it like you mean it. This part is key to rewiring your brain and rewriting the false and damaging internal narrative. This might feel strange at first but push through and build on this practice throughout each day. It will be worth it.

10.  Rest

While on the topic of establishing regular, healthy practices, meaningful rest cannot be overemphasized. One of the miracles of the human body (including the mind and spirit) is its ability to take a hit. And in today’s world, boy does it ever.

Though tough to see sometimes, stress piles up, and over time can cause some very serious and sometimes life-threatening issues. 

In addition to a regular movement practice (both vigorous workouts coupled with more calming movements), eating healthy, and detoxing your brain, sneak in as many opportunities to rest during your day and week.

Just as you would play like it is your job, rest with the same determined commitment.

How about taking a long bath every Friday night (make it as fancy or plain Jane as you want)? Declare every Sunday a “self-care Sunday.” Turn off your phone after 7 pm every night. Have a classic cheat day with extra cheesy pizza, Disney+, and movement that is restricted to only the kitchen and bathroom.

Do whatever feels right for you; just get to restin’.

11.  Be kind… to yourself

On some level, each of us is merely fumbling through this thing called “life.” Nobody has it all together, and most of us are falling short on a regular basis.

Remind yourself, as often as needed, that you are human. You won’t get it all right, and sometimes you won’t even come close. Instead, you can use those moments as incredible opportunities to extend a hand of kindness to yourself and cut yourself some slack.

Love Yourself 

The needs and goals on the journey of self-love will vary from person to person, so begin wherever feels right for you. There is no right or wrong way to go about self-love.

As you start with one self-love practice—or a few, if preferred—and become comfortable with your progress, incorporate another until that one also becomes a solid habit.

Wishing you all the best on your unique journey of loving yourself more.

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