“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
Whether you are a college student, a young professional, or a parent of several rowdy kids, you may fall into the habit of never taking time for yourself. Loving others is crucial, but so is finding time for self-love! From those who are hesitant to take time for themselves to people already on their journey to radical self-love, jump into this practice with the following methods.
The Importance of Practicing Self-Love
Self-love refers to the regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. If you have a habit of putting others first and leaving your best interest on the back burner, you are not alone. However, taking some time for loving oneself and practicing self-love is scientifically proven to have a number of positive effects on your well-being. Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D., science director of the Stanford Center For Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, cites the following as benefits of practicing self-love:
- Higher productivity, because those who practice self-love are motivated by self-compassion and are more likely to push themselves harder and learn from failure.
- Better performance results, because practicing self-compassion helps you be more level-headed, open-minded, and have a positive attitude.
- Less stress, because this practice releases the oxytocin hormone in your body, which fosters love and trust, and decreases cortisol which is highly correlated with stress.
1. Focus on the Positive
“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.”– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Positive thinking can significantly improve your full body health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease according to a recent study by The American Journal of Epidemiology. Finding big and small ways to focus on the good things in your life is a great way to practice self-love. Try some of the following strategies to think more positively:
- Surround yourself with positive people because we tend to emulate those around us. Reducing negative influences in your life can create more space for positive energy and growth.
- Eliminate words like “I can’t” from your inner dialogue. Instead, experts recommend shifting to positive or even neutral language in your mind because your internal dialogue can have a huge impact on your outward actions.
- Take a few minutes out of each day to reflect on the positive things in your life. This can help you move into a better mental space and bring things that make you happy to the top of your mind. For specific guidance in this exercise, try the 52 Lists Project.
2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
In the age where many people choose to broadcast their success over social media, avoiding self-comparison can be challenging. However, finding strategies to stop comparing yourself to others can be a huge step on your journey to radical self-love. Some simple ways to do this include:
- Catch yourself in comparison. When you find yourself making comparisons, acknowledge it. Being aware of the behavior is an easy first step toward stopping it!
- Take a social media detox. Studies show avid social media users are prone to comparison and that social media can have a big impact on your self-esteem. Signing off for a while may help you break the social comparison cycle.
- Celebrate your own accomplishments. Whether you received a big promotion or simply finished everything on your to-do list, rewarding yourself for a job well done is always a good idea. This can also help you shift your paradigm away from others and instead start practicing self-love!
3. Take a Day Off and Plan an Adventure
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”- Jean Shinoda Bolen
More than half of the American population ends each year with unused vacation days. While most people are very busy in their day-to-day lives, taking the occasional well-earned day off is an excellent way to love yourself first. Whether you use this time to explore the great outdoors, visit places on your yoga bucket list, or to take a staycation, think about making personal time a priority. To make the most of your time off, consider the following:
- Unplug. Avoid checking your email if at all possible. This can help take work, school, or other stressors off your mind and help you mentally reset.
- Start small. You do not need to take off huge pieces of time in order to enjoy your break. Try taking just one day off, or even an afternoon.
- Let yourself get lost in something you love. Once you have committed to some you time, make the most of it. Whether that means taking some time for meditation or clearing your mind with a little extra Netflix, put your whole self into the things you enjoy!