Follow these eight practical tips for embracing and building self-love
The road to self-love is rarely straightforward. It includes twists, turns, hurdles, and challenges – and, above all, it’s going to take time.
We have a good idea of what it means to love another person – you care about their wellbeing, you root for them and are invested in their achievements, you value them, celebrate the qualities that make them unique, and are there for them through thick and thin. It’s much the same when it comes to self-love, but instead of spending that energy elsewhere, you shift the focus inwards, to yourself.
When you have self-love, you listen to the things that your body is telling you, you understand and respect your own boundaries, you forgive yourself when you mess up, and you know that – even on the hard days – you’re going to have your own back.
It sounds like a lot to aspire to, particularly if it’s something that you have struggled with in the past – and, honestly, that’s because it is. Self-love is a daily craft that we can constantly hone, and the relationship that we have with ourselves will fluctuate throughout a lifetime.
Here, with the help of life coach Natalie Trice, we’re taking self-love out of the abstract and into eight practical steps that you can use to nurture and grow the relationship that you have with yourself.
1. Put comparison behind you
“One of the main reasons many people struggle to love and accept themselves is that they are so busy looking at what everyone else is up to,” Natalie says. “Yes, it might look like your family, friends, and colleagues have got their worlds together, but we only see what they want us to see, and there’s a fine line between feelings and facts.
“If you can stop comparing yourself to others, and simply work on your life, career, and relationships, that feeling that you aren’t good enough will ease, and you will begin to love who you are just a little bit more.”
2. Set your boundaries
Boundary-setting is a hugely important step when considering how you want to improve and change elements of your life that are making you unhappy. It could be boundaries with your loved ones, at work, with strangers, or even with yourself. Think about the things that really matter to you, as well as what you need in order to live a healthy and happy life.
How can you put a protective barrier around those things? How can you make sure the people in your life don’t cross lines that make you uncomfortable? Make these boundaries clear to others, and stick to them – in time, you’ll begin to understand just how beneficial they can be.
3. Listen to yourself
“‘Does this dress look OK? Is this job going to be enough for me? Is what he said really true?’ These are questions we often ask other people rather than digging deep, listening to ourselves, and accepting what we know is right,” Natalie explains. “You know better than anyone else what is good, or bad, for you – and when you can start to trust yourself, self-love will settle down and you will rely less on the opinions of others, and take on your own decisions.”
4. Protect your time
Tied in with setting boundaries, ensuring that you value and protect your time is an important step, and one that will mean that you’re able to prioritise the things in your life that you need to foster the healthy, balanced attitude required for self-love. If you need 10 minutes before bed to wind down completely, make sure you get it. If your lunch break is time for you to practise self-care, recharge, and reset, let others know it’s non-negotiable that you take it in full.
"You know better than anyone else what is good, or bad, for you"
5. Work on the relationship with your body
‘Self-love’ is often spoken about in connection with body confidence. While body confidence isn’t the main factor in self-love, it is an important one. Reflect on the relationship you have with your body – is it a good, healthy one? Do you have any triggers which lead to a period of bad body image?
As with any other kind of self-improvement, working on your body image will take some time, but you can do so, firstly, by reflecting on where you are currently, identifying areas that you need to address, and gradually challenging the thought patterns and beliefs that hold you back.
6. Be kind to yourself
“We know we have to be kind to other people – but to love yourself, you need to be kind to yourself, too,” Natalie says. “For one week, be mindful of the way you talk to yourself, the comments you make when someone gives you a compliment, the second-guessing about what someone might be thinking about you – the list goes on. Each time you make an unkind comment to or about yourself, ask what a loving, kinder approach could be?”
7. Nourish yourself
Eating well can improve our mood, energy, and help us think clearly, and exercise floods our bodies with feel-good endorphins. Mix things up in the
kitchen by learning about nutrition (nutritionist-resource.org.uk has free guides and resources), and set achievable movement goals – a 10-minute walk after work, or stretching throughout the day. This isn’t about achieving aesthetic goals, it’s about looking after the body you’re in.
8. Do more of the things that bring you joy
Take some time to reflect on the things in life that really matter to you, and bring you the most joy. It could be quality time spent with a loved one, working on your hobbies, exploring new places, or a cosy night in! What steps can you take to make sure you can do these things more often? When we make time for the things that bring us joy, we’re telling ourselves that our happiness matters – because it does.
To connect with a life coach, or to learn more about self-love, visit lifecoach-directory.org.uk