Do you love yourself wholeheartedly? If I asked you to list all of the things that you adore about yourself would you be able to fill a page with all of your goodness?
Self-love can be hard, right?
We aren’t exactly taught about the importance of loving ourselves…
But what if I told you that self-love makes you feel damn good while also supporting your heart, immune system and mental health? Totally cool right?
Self-love really is all win! So let’s talk about it and look into ways that you can work on loving yourself bunches:
Before We Get Started
Working on self-love? Prioritizing you-time and self-care activities that help you feel more connected with yourself can be a huge help.
So I made you a free Self-Love Activities E-Book to help you get started.
You’ve got bonus content and activity suggestions to help beautiful you out. Simply fill out the form below and it will fly off to your inbox <3.
Why I Make Self-Love a Priority
My 8 year Graves Disease diagnosis anniversary recently passed and I was trying to think about the best way to honour it. My diagnosis date is something I celebrate. Many of the changes that this disease ushered in were incredibly positive. And I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. So, weirdly enough, I’m grateful.
And the thing I am most grateful for is the amazing, unconditionally loving and supportive relationship that bloomed. That relationship is the one I have with me (although – kudos to my amazing, supportive husband and all of his help, encouragement and love along the way <3. I couldn’t have made it to this wonderful place without you!)
Shock and awe; it all comes back to Graves Disease. Is that even a surprise anymore? This autoimmune disease taught me so much, but the greatest lesson (the one that opened the doors to everything else) was to love myself with all my heart.
Self-love is the reason I eat the way I do. It’s the reason I take a bath at the end of a long day and get lost in a good book. When I meditate, when I do yoga, when I go for a nice long walk, or just put my feet up and do nothing… it’s all in the name of self-love.
Self-love is the foundation of Health-Esteem! And while I am so excited for you to embrace the self care tips and healthy lifestyle activities that feel right to you, my main message has always been this – love yourself. Love yourself irrevocably, fiercely, wholeheartedly. That love will inspire you to take the steps that are right for your needs, including any steps you take in the name of your health.
What Does It Even Mean to Love Yourself
According to Clinical Psychologist Deborah Khoshaba, Psy.D., self-love is a state of appreciation for yourself that grows when your actions support your physical, psychological and spiritual growth and well-being.
“When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept much better our weaknesses as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.” (source)
It’s pretty wonderful to know that when you prioritize your well-being and care about your needs self-love blooms! And when you have an abundance of self-love you start to treat yourself with more kindness and compassion.
Self-love helps you recognize that you are just as worthy of goodness as those around you. It lets you center yourself, allowing you to make decisions from a caring place and changing your entire outlook.
On top of all that goodness, when you try to learn to love yourself fiercely you begin to realize that you don’t need to be some mythical better version of yourself to be worthy of love. You are worthy of love just as you are, right now, beautiful flaws and all.
When someone asks me where to start when they’re looking into embracing healthy lifestyle changes working on loving yourself fiercely is always my answer.
Self-love is the true foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
Why Loving Yourself Should Be A Priority
How exactly does self-love earn such a prime spot in building a healthy lifestyle? Because everything falls into place around it. The driving force behind our actions is what truly give us power. And when it comes to lasting healthy changes, love is the most powerful thing of all.
There are so many “health programs” out there aimed at creating insecurities within the general population and/or cashing in on them by offering a “fix”.
We see it all the time – “Get the perfect beach body”, “lose tons of weight fast”, “tone your stomach with this ridiculously expensive piece of equipment you don’t actually need”. That last one wasn’t an actual quote from something, but you totally get me eh?
What happens when we follow those strict protocols?
We often feel incredibly restricted and eventually go right back to our old habits. This system certainly doesn’t build lasting healthy changes. And where do we find ourselves in the end? Right back where we started, potentially nursing some pretty awful insecurities (no thanks to you, societal beauty standards!)
But when you love yourself you’re better able to make lasting healthy changes. You keep your own best interest at heart. Self-care becomes a priority because you respect and see to your needs. You feed yourself with kindness because you know that you deserve it. And speak to yourself nicely because you know that you don’t deserve to be talked down to.
It’s like you have this super amazing bestie by your side at all times, making sure that you feel loved, cared for and at home in your own skin. Because you do! You’re stuck with yourself always darling, your relationship with you should be a top priority.
How Does Self-Love Affect Your Health
When you love yourself your brain changes! Which is totally mind blowing and super cool (at least, this huge nerd thinks so!) People who love and accept themselves tend to have more grey matter in the parts of their brains that control emotion and stress. What does more grey matter have to offer? It makes us better able to cope with stress and negative emotions. Totally amazing, right? (source)
But it just keeps getting better, because that goodness extends even further to the parts of the brain that processes anxiety! That doesn’t mean you’ll be anxiety and stress-free. That’s impossible. But your much loved brain will be better able to help you work your way through it. And isn’t that amazing? (source 1, source 2)
And if there are any other chronic illness warriors out there, studies show that self-love can help to reduce health-related anxiety too. This Graves Disease thriver thinks that’s one amazing bonus! (source)
On top of that, feeling good about yourself benefits your immune system and cardiovascular health! One study showed that changes in self-esteem have an almost immediate effect on the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and it’s influence on the heart. And I bet that you can guess that positive changes in self-esteem led to a positive effect on the PNS!
In case you aren’t overly familiar with the parasympathetic nervous system (I know I wasn’t), its job is to slow and calm the heart, ease stress and reduce inflammation. It’s the opposite of the fight of flight response, which is ruled by the sympathetic nervous system. And if the PNS is underactive you may develop heart issues or autoimmune diseases in the future. Self-love is sounding more and more awesome by the minute, am I right?
How Do We Work On Self-Love?
There are a few things you need to consider when working on self-love. Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and the author of Paradoxical Strategies in Psychotherapy says this:
“You need to recognize that given your defenses, blind spots, insecurities, and the harmful things you may have been exposed to, you really are doing the best you can—and have been all along. Additionally, you need to stop evaluating yourself according to standards that don’t really fit who you are, or what you can realistically expect of yourself.” (source)
Dr. Seltzer believes that the best truly unconditionally loving relationship you can ever have is with yourself. And it’s about far more than self-esteem, which is more about valuing the worthwhile attributes we bring to the table (still a good thing, by the way).
Self-love blends self-esteem with self-compassion and self-acceptance. It’s about celebrating your value, adoring your uniqueness, acknowledging your faults, recognizing your weaknesses and fully accepting it all. Because all of that adds up to you! And aren’t you wonderful as you are? I think so!
Self-love isn’t always easy. Some days you might feel awesome and love yourself wholeheartedly. Other times that inner mean girl might talk a bit louder than usual, leaving you feeling a less than fantastic. Your relationship with yourself is just like any other relationship. It takes time, effort and care. There will be good and bad days, and that’s ok.
It’s imperative that we recognize that self-love is a continuous journey, not a destination. The most important thing is that you make a choice to work on loving and accepting yourself, as you are. Once you’ve made the commitment to love yourself everything else can start to fall into place.
8 Ways To Work On Self-Love
When you prioritize your relationship with yourself you can build something truly magical! And you seriously deserve that. There is no relationship more permanent and long lasting than the one you will have with yourself, so let’s make it a good one!
Here are a few ways that you can love yourself fiercely:
1. Learn to be Mindful
Connecting with yourself means developing a keen awareness of what you think, feel and want. Think of it as a great opportunity to get to know yourself. This allows you to be more mindful of who you are and make decisions based on what works for you rather than what you think others might expect or want from you.
2. Try To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
Comparison truly is the thief of joy (thanks for that gem Theodore Roosevelt!) It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’re constantly measuring yourself up against others. They’ve got their own unique goodness happening and you have yours. It’s apples and oranges baby!
Not to mention, when you look at the accomplishments of others you often see their wins, not the struggles and hard work that went into getting there. So instead of getting a bad case of comparison-itis and feeling inferior, get inspired. Allow your admiration to fuel you, not drain you.
If you find yourself feeling bad and in the middle of a comparison game, ask yourself why? Are there dreams you aren’t chasing? Old wounds that need healing? This can be a great opportunity for self-compassion, which is a huge part of self-love. <3
3. Make Time for Yourself
This one can be difficult! We’re taught not to put ourselves first, because that would be selfish (which I totally don’t see as a bad word btw). But why not put yourself first sometimes too? Don’t you deserve the same time, dedication, love and respect that you give to those around you? Heck yes you do!
In fact, when you are present for yourself everyone benefits. Self-care helps to prevent you from feeling stressed, drained or simply burnt out. Which means there’s a lot more goodness to go around! When you make time for yourself you’re better able to be present for others.
Put a little time aside for you everyday for the self-care activities and hobbies that make you feel good. It can make a world of difference.
And if meditation is one of your go to self care activities, focus on the things you love about yourself while you meditate. Trust me, that builds some awesome self-love vibes.
4. Stop Negative Self-Talk in it’s Tracks
We all have an inner mean girl that really didn’t get the whole “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” memo. And even when you do create a beautiful, loving relationship with yourself she may still pop up from time to time. But you have to take her megaphone away.
The biggest bully in your life shouldn’t live in your head. Try to acknowledge negative self-talk without judgment or anger and respond with kindness or let it go. If this seems bonkers, try to imagine if you would say the same thing to someone else (or allow someone who talked to you that way to be a big part of your life). No, right?
When we realize how vindictive and ridiculous our inner mean girl can be it’s easier to take away her power.
5. Drop Your Frenemies
If your inner mean girl doesn’t deserve to hang out with you, frenemies shouldn’t be part of your entourage either. If someone takes pride in dulling your shine you are far better off without them. Protecting yourself is loving yourself after all.
6. Accept that You are Uniquely Imperfect
This all goes back to realizing that you don’t need to be some mythical better version of yourself to be worthy of love. There will never be a you that is without fault. There’s no version of anyone that is without fault (yes, even amazing Beyonce has her imperfections!)
Relieving yourself of the impossibility of being perfect is such an incredible kindness. The pressure of perfection is not kind, it doesn’t cheer you on and it never truly leads you forward. And it has no place with you on your self-love journey.
7. Set Boundaries.
Boundaries are everything, love. Be clear with yourself (and whoever else needs to know) about your limits. Say no when you need to – to work, to company, to activities that drain you. You can’t do everything, and you certainly aren’t an Energizer bunny that’s always ready to go. It’s ok to say no and put those feet up.
8. Forgive Yourself
We all make mistakes. It goes back to that whole perfectly imperfectly idea. And hey, it’s great to take responsibility for your actions. But goodness, can we ever be hard on ourselves.
But being hard on yourself doesn’t build love. It doesn’t even allow you to grow and learn quite as much as you could if you simply acknowledged, accepted and moved forward. Let go, forgive yourself and move ahead. The relief alone is totally worth it!
Ready to love yourself wholeheartedly? Tell me what you love about yourself in the comments. Have any advice you would add to the list? Share your goodness with us! Looking forward to reading your lovely thoughts.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: I am worthy of unconditional self-love.
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