Treating yourself with love and care can make the world of difference to your wellbeing. For those with additional challenges, such as an illness or disability, it’s not always an easy task. Here we share tips on how to bring self-love into your life
Self-love undoubtedly plays a key part in our mental health and wellbeing, and it’s easy to see why. Valuing ourselves and our bodies can motivate us to make healthier life choices, such as eating well, engaging in leisure activities that bring us joy, and having healthy relationships. These choices can contribute to greater life satisfaction which, in turn, can improve our overall wellbeing.
Still, it’s not always easy to practise self-love, especially when you’re faced with extra challenges, such as an illness or disability. But here we share some tips to help you on your way to your self-love journey...
Surround yourself with people who love and support you
You can’t solely rely on the love of others around you for your own happiness, which is why self-love is so important. However, surrounding yourself with people who love and support you can also encourage you to love yourself – and shows that you know you deserve that positivity in your life. Keep your biggest fans close – the people who respect you, the people who see your potential, and the people who encourage you to fulfil it. Listen to what these people love about you – instead of dismissing their compliments, take note of them. Try to see yourself through the eyes of people who love and support you.
Focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t
Everybody has abilities and limitations, but this can seem even more prevalent when you have an illness or disability. Try to focus on the things that you can do, rather than what you can’t. Focus on your ability to see colours, or to breathe fresh air, to make someone else smile, or to dance (even if you’re not very good at it!). Remember that hobbies don’t always have to bring you money or ‘success’. Figure out what it is that you enjoy doing, rather than what others enjoy doing, and do more of it.
It’s easy to blame or criticise ourselves when we make mistakes. We often punish ourselves for forgetting to take medication, or not drinking enough water, or other choices that can negatively impact us, especially with an illness or disability. It’s important to remember that nobody is perfect. To be human is to make mistakes. Forgive yourself as you would forgive those you love.
Cultivate a positive space online
It’s well known that social media can have a negative impact on our relationship with ourselves. When you’re only seeing people’s highlight reels, it’s often easy to falsely believe they’re living a perfect life, so it’s no wonder that a survey carried out by disability charity Scope found that 62% of social media users feel inadequate when comparing themselves to other people’s posts. But social media can be an incredibly positive and supportive community, too – it’s just about ensuring you take out the toxicity, and instead fill your feed with inspiration.
Unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, and instead follow those that encourage or entertain you. Some great accounts that actively encourage self-love on Instagram include: @bodyposipanda for body positive inspiration; @katieabey for positive self-love slogans; @thetummydiaries, @bryonyehopkins and @sophjbutler for a dose of realness, embracing scars, and food and exercise with an illness or disability. And of course, @dailyhedgehog, because who can’t learn a bit of self-love from those spiky little creatures?
Loving yourself is easier when you actively take care of yourself, and nourish your wellbeing
Practising self-care is not only great for your health, but also great for self-love. Loving yourself is easier when you actively take care of yourself, and nourish your wellbeing. Although, everyone has different needs, so self-care can take various forms. It might be eating healthily or indulging in foods that you enjoy, getting an early night or going out with friends, going for a run or going for a lie down. Listen to what your body needs, and honour it as much as you can.
Creating boundaries in our work and social lives is vital to our mental and physical health. Despite this, not all of us do it. Many of us feel guilty for saying no to a work task, or a social event – especially people with an illness or disability, as many of us don’t want to be seen as incapable. But it is important to listen to your physical and emotional needs. Setting limits to protect yourself and your energy from harm is an important part of loving yourself.
Whenever you need a little reminder of the importance of self-love, think of this quote from Buddha: ‘You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.’
To find out how counselling can help improve your self-esteem visit counselling-directory.org.uk