Self-love is often something we are compelled into when the worst happens. Perhaps we promise ourselves after a bout of sickness that we will never let ourselves get that run down again. Or maybe, after a horrendous accident, we nurse ourselves back to full health and promise to be better all round, to take life slower and at a more deliberate pace now that we have been given that coveted second chance.
But what if we were more deliberate all of the time? What if we chose to love ourselves, to grow our self-esteem in a preventative way rather than trying to fix problems that have already happened. What then might our mental and physical health look like then? Would waiting lists fall? Would people be happier?
In a class I was delivering on resilience, I heard one of my students say, ‘self-love is selfish’. When I asked her to explain, she continued that self-love and self-care take away your ability to look after other people in your life and therefore it is selfish. Some of the other students nodded in agreement. I paused, thinking of the pre-flight air steward demonstration we are all so familiar with, when they demonstrate that you should put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anyone else.
My student had missed the point of my lesson. Self-love is not about taking away from others, but about growing your own personal armour, your confidence and self-esteem so that you can be the best version of yourself for you and for the people that you love. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
So, what can you do to increase your self-love?
Keep a mood journal. Keeping track of your mood, who is in your life and where you spend your time can really illuminate things for you. Find out what makes you happy, where the patterns are and where the inconsistencies lie (this is where YU comes in! Download it at the bottom of the page).
Accept compliments. We are all too good at swiping away compliments when they’re given. Try accepting and even returning the compliment.
Spend some time outside. There is so much research around how light, fresh air and the beauty of nature can connect us back to our roots. GO explore.
Get enough sleep. The brain needs rest and recovery to function properly
Eat well. Too much junk food can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, as well as not filling you up, leading you to snack on more unhealthy food. Try to eat a balanced diet of high quality whole foods as often as possible.
Spend time with people who make you feel good. If you surround yourself with people who radiate positivity, you are more likely to absorb it yourself.
Keep active. Doing something physical, whether it’s going for a run, doing a dance class or going for a walk round the block, releases the feel-good hormone serotonin, boosts energy levels and increase motivation.
Focusing on self-care means you begin to appreciate the value of you, which in turn increases self-confidence and self-esteem. It means not sacrificing yourself to please others, ensuring that you are looked after first – you’ll be in a much better position to tend to others if you yourself feel nurtured.
Feeling more confident means you are more likely to try new things, have a positive attitude towards yourself, and trust your instincts. And remember to always put your oxygen mask on before looking after everyone else.