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Self love: how to practice self love and self care

What does self-love look like? Identifying the Different Forms of Self-Care

self love self care; love;

The second I started thinking about what to write today, I realized that self-love is one of the broadest topics ever. It could mean literally anything and depends on the angle you’re seeing it from. But I’ll do my best to say what’s on my mind and hopefully help someone. You can leave a comment in the comment section if I leave anything out.

So, what does self-love really mean? People make it seem as if self-love is all about long baths, skin care, etc. That could have some truth to it, but true self-love and care go above and beyond. My personal explanation of self-love is “how you think of yourself. It is how you value and respect yourself. Do you think you’re worth the things you have or wish to have? Do you believe in yourself? Have you ever thought you’re good at the things you do—or even more, do you believe you can become better at them? who often do you take care of yourself? Like, really, really take care of yourself.”

Before we go further, let’s split the topic into two: mental and physical self-love.

Mental self-love

Mental self-love refers to the practice of caring for your own mental health and wellbeing through self-compassion, self-care, and self-acceptance. It involves acknowledging and prioritizing your own needs, emotions, and thoughts and developing a positive relationship with yourself

How to practice mental self-love

  • Self-compassion: self-compassion involves treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and empathy, especially during difficult times or when you experience emotional pain. It means acknowledging your own suffering and offering yourself the same care and support you would offer a friend.
  • Self-Care: Self-care involves taking care of your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health needs. This can include getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, practicing relaxation techniques, praying and engaging in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.
  • Self-acceptance: Self-acceptance involves accepting yourself for who you are, including your strengths, weaknesses, and imperfections. It means recognizing that you are worthy of love and respect, regardless of your flaws or mistakes.
  • Positive Self-Talk (Affirmations): Positive self-talk involves using positive, affirming language when speaking to yourself. This can involve reframing negative self-talk into more positive and empowering messages. Examples of positive affirmations for self-love include:
    • I am worthy and deserving of love and respect.
    • I choose to focus on my strengths and capabilities.
    • I am enough, just as I am.
    • I am deserving of happiness and fulfillment.
    • I accept myself unconditionally, flaws and all.
    • I trust in my own abilities and instincts.
    • I am proud of who I am and what I have accomplished.

Affirmations don’t have to be that strict but have a few things that remind you of your favorite place, people, feeling, etc. Generally, they are a list of things you’re happy about, grateful for, etc., and a lot of people who do affirmations read them or recite them in the morning.

  • Practicing mindfulness: mindfulness involves being present and fully engaged in the moment, without judgment or distraction. It can help you cultivate a greater sense of awareness and connection with yourself and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Examples of mindfulness practices for self-love include:

  1. Mindful breathing exercises
  2. Body scans to tune in to physical sensations
  3. Mindful self-compassion meditations
  4. Mindful movement practices such as yoga or walking meditation
  5. Daily self-reflection and journaling
  6. Avoid toxic people Personally, I prefer being alone to being around people that pull my self-esteem down. When someone puts negative thoughts in your head, you continue the same pattern even when you’re not around them. Spend time with people that make you laugh and know what boundaries are.

Physical self-love

Physical self-love involves taking care of your body and physical health, and treating yourself with kindness, compassion, and acceptance. It is an essential part of overall self-care and can have a positive impact on your mental health and wellbeing as well.

• Monitor the content you consume. Music, books, and movies are amazing hobbies, and they do help us relax. But what messages are we getting through these outlets? You can’t force yourself to watch happy-go-lucky and positive things all the time, but you can identify which ones make you feel sad or depressed and set a limit on them.

•Boundaries – Setting and respecting physical boundaries is an important aspect of physical self-love. This can include saying no to activities or commitments that are physically exhausting or harmful, or setting limits on how much you allow others to touch or interact with your body.

•Movement and Play –Engaging in physical activity that you enjoy can be a great way to practice physical self-love. This can include dancing, playing sports, hiking, or simply going for a walk. The goal is to find activities that feel good and bring you joy, rather than focusing on achieving a certain level of fitness or appearance.

•Positive Body Image – Positive body image involves accepting and appreciating your body for what it is, regardless of its size, shape, or appearance. It means recognizing your own worth and value beyond your physical appearance, and treating your body with respect and care.

How to love yourself

Self-love is the realest love

As self-love is not a one-time thing, you need to constantly take your time to look after your mind and your body as well. So, here’s some actual ways to do it.

  • •Sleep – Please. It sounds irrelevant but the more baggage there is in your brain, the harder things get. You need 7-9 hours of shut eye every single day. How much of that do you get?
  • •Drink water – This isn’t only for kidney health (which by the way is very very important) but it also keeps your skin clear and avoids drowsiness.
  • •Eat – This could be hard to do if you’re going through a lot or trying to lose some weight but starvation really isn’t the way. You instinctually know the right amount to eat so please give that to your body.
  • •Read – This sounds more like an assignment but I swear it isn’t. Whether it’s fiction or poetry you like, it takes your mind off things and makes you have a wider perspective.
  • •Take care of your mental health. I’m going to say it upfront- if you feel like you need help, just go for it. That feeling is trying to tell you something. Be it online or in person, getting help can go a long way.
  • •Watch sunrise or sunset, – whichever you prefer. I’m obsessed with the sun but for real, it has some health benefits.
  • •Exercise –  I cannot emphasize this enough. If you’re at home cause of the pandemic, you’re most likely spending your days on gadgets while sitting down somewhere. This depresses you besides making you live a sedentary lifestyle.
  • •Listen to what your mind is telling you and do what it’s telling you. What is that thing you love beyond imagination? Art? Writing? Helping people? Socializing? Going out? Figure out what that is, and do it.
  • •Take breaks if you’re studying, working, etc.

What affects self love?

The bigger issue here though, isn’t about how you can love yourself. It’s about being willing to do so. Unfortunately, a lot of problems stand in the way. This contains a few things from my experience that could help you take a lesson.

Reason #1, thinking ‘Not putting in effort is okay…I’m sure I love myself!’

You could feel it, but you need to express it. Same as you would if you were in a relationship with someone. You know they know you love them but they want it in words and actions. That’s the mistake that a lot of us make- thinking that knowing it is enough. I was in this phase for so long. Life was almost perfect and I didn’t have as many issues, just a few here and there. I never struggled to accept myself because I was me and I was fine with it. But not necessarily appreciative.

Reason #2, thinking you’re not worthy of love.

I would call this self-hate but that wouldn’t apply to every single person. Nevertheless, a lot of us suffer from this and we neglect ourselves. I can’t say I’m entirely done with this phase though but it started a week after I started staying home on March. The past 8 months have been a lesson that spending too much time with myself isn’t good for me. I looked at the person I was, I mean really really looked and I didn’t like who I saw. Every negative emotion and demon from the past year and the ones before came back a lot stronger. And the one thing that destroys self-love in my opinion is constant pain, especially when guilt and self blame get involved. I’m not that miserable anymore but it made me reconsider a lot of things.

Pain and trauma could make it so hard to love yourself and make you your own target. Even worse with undealt emotions and bottled-up feelings. But these come with a lesson. Try all you can to heal despite everything happening now. Move on. Next time, know better than avoiding things until they hurt you and deal with them in a healthy way.

Reason #3, ‘It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t make a difference.’

No one’s opinion of you matters as much as yours. NO ONE’S. The more you learn to accept and believe in yourself, the better your life. You might push this aside because you’re too busy with stuff but for those things (school, your career, your life) to exist, you need to exist. And not just lie there motionless, but truly exist. Conquer. Cherish. You want those things, right? I bet you do. Then take care of the person who’s going to be doing them. You can’t drive a car without filling it up with gas or electricity.

Finally, here is where I’d like to thank someone for helping me make the first move towards loving and accepting myself. We talked all through the past months and as we were doing so one day, she told me about her self-care routine that she does when she’s feeling down. That was how my self-love journey was truly initiated. I’ve tried to pass on what she did for me onto you and I hope I have.

There you have it, folks. Self-love is important and we should all practice it. But let’s be real, it’s not always easy. Sometimes it feels like we’re fighting an uphill battle against our own insecurities and negative self-talk. But fear not, because with a little bit of sarcasm and humor, we can learn to love ourselves despite our flaws and imperfections. So go ahead, indulge in some self-care, practice positive affirmations, and embrace your unique qualities. And when all else fails, remember this: you’re fabulous, you’re flawed, and you’re perfectly imperfect – just like everyone else. So, keep on loving yourself, and don’t forget to laugh along the way.

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