Self-love. We hear the phrase thrown around a lot but what does it really mean, and more importantly why does it matter? Many of us invest so much into our relationships with others - family, friends, co-workers and sometimes even strangers on the internet - that we often forget about ourselves. Just as it takes work to maintain positive relationships with others, it’s important to take time to cultivate the one with yourself - after all, it’s the most important one you’ll ever have. While at first it may seem self-indulgent, it’s essential to living your most fulfilling life. How you feel about yourself not only impacts your physical and mental health but how you interact with others and how you handle whatever life throws your way.
Self-love can feel as ambiguous as happiness, so not sure where to start? Begin with these small daily practices.
Disconnect to reconnect
In a world ever-competing for our attention, disconnecting from your phone, emails and notifications is an act of self-love. While setting boundaries can be uncomfortable to begin with, your nervous system, energy levels and focus will thank you. Allow your system time to ground and recalibrate away from the noise and distractions of others demands and needs. Read a few pages of a book, take a phone-free walk outside, create a nourishing morning routine - turn it into a small daily ritual.
There are many forms of meditation - walking, guided, seated - but whatever form you choose, meditation is proven to help you feel better mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Taking time to tune inwards, find stillness and listen feels at odds with our over-stimulated, increasingly connected world - and that’s why it’s powerful. It can be a self-soothing and healing practice. Why not try this 10 minute guided self-love meditation from Laura Dodd, created especially for you to cultivate self-acceptance.
Roll out Your Mat
Whether it’s a sweaty power flow or restorative yin session, yoga asks us to meet ourselves on the mat exactly where we are. A practice of compassion, yoga helps us to tune into our needs, find mind-body connection and practice asana in a way that supports the body rather than punishes it. A daily yoga practice doesn’t need to be an hour long session, in fact, little and often will probably support you better emotionally and energetically in the long run. Check out our blog post for things you may notice when you commit to a regular practice.
Cut The Negative Self-Talk
How you speak to yourself matters. In fact, the voice in your mind is the one you hear the most. Do you beat yourself up with destructive, critical or negative thoughts? Well, the good news is - they’re just thoughts - and you don’t need to listen to them. While it may not happen overnight - next time you find yourself emotionally putting yourself down - gently ask is this true, is it kind and what would you say to a friend if they spoke to themselves in the same way. Remind yourself there is another counter conversation to be had. Return to this practice with love and compassion each time you catch negative self-talk to help reprogram your mind.
Have you ever heard the term negativity-bias? Well it’s something that is hardwired in all humans. Back in caveman times - it was helpful to remember negative experiences over positive ones as it was pivotal in survival, managing perceived impending danger and ultimately meant that humans have survived through dangers and disasters over the millennia. But this built-in system never left the human species despite the changes in our way of life. Ruminating on past perceived negative events, conversations or situations isn’t helpful to our feelings of self-worth or wellbeing. It also keeps us stuck in the past and unable to live and enjoy life in the present moment. Give yourself a permission slip to regularly celebrate yourself. Whether it be part of your daily journaling or gratitude practice, or by simply congratulating and praising how you show up for yourself no matter what life throws your way.
Share Your Feelings
Self-love isn’t always pretty or instagrammable - in fact, it can be messy, uneventful or difficult. Self-love asks us to be honest and raw with ourselves. Honest with our true values and needs. Perhaps you’ve spent years ignoring your own needs or feelings - in which case beginning to acknowledge them can feel daunting or difficult to access. Perhaps you handle everything by yourself? Humans are designed to live in community rather than an individualized way. Ask yourself how you can honour your true feelings more? Whether that be with yourself, a friend or a therapist. Honoring your true feelings ultimately leads to less frustration and stagnation allowing you to live life more authentically and joyfully.