Despite the holistic yoga lifestyle I lead, I guess I’m pretty much like everyone else when it comes to self-love – I actually find it hard and it seems to be getting harder not easier as I get older. Surely, we should start accepting and embracing ourselves as we age – the good and the bad? We tell our friends ‘don’t worry, you are perfect just the way you are’, we comment on Instagram posts of the people we follow ‘you are enough’ but how often do we say this to ourselves?
I post upbeat self-care tips, I know true beauty comes from within and I understand that if I treat myself more like someone worthy of love I will open myself up to its possibilities yet I still put so much pressure on myself to be “perfect” version. Sometimes the critical, judgemental voice in my head gets the better of me and and at these times, it seems everyone is fitter, younger, more knowledgable, more creative than me ……… Self-doubt and self-love are close bed-fellows – and once we let the doubt creep in and the self-love soon starts to run thin.
A while back I realised I can’t hashtag my way to self love and started compiling a list of simple, positive things I could do to lift my spirits and start loving myself more and I am sharing this with you below. I’m not going to say it was easy. I had to put in the time and I’ve still got a long way to go before I’d describe myself as totally happy in my skin but at least I have some tools I can use instead of simply putting on a brave face or pouring a glass of wine. Try not to dismiss these ideas simply because you’ve heard them before. The key is to stick with them and make them part of your routine. Take the risk of investing in yourself mind, body and soul, and see what happens.
I have also listed some lifestyle changes I have made, that have really helped me and will hopefully help you too.
Daily Self-Love Strategy
There is no one magical ritual I can recommend for loving yourself but making time to look after yourself and to create moments of happiness in your day is a big step in the right direction.
Eat a healthy, nutritious diet: shopping, preparing, cooking and eating delicious food is a simple and enjoyable way we can all nourish and nurture ourselves. Don’t just cook what your kids or partner likes – make dishes that you enjoy eating too.
Prioritize sleep: try to get enough sleep so you wake up feeling refreshed. Experts agree that going to bed and getting up at the same time each day seems to be the best way to achieve this. (Sorry, if you are a mum to a young baby or small kids – this tip will be impossible for you to follow – hang in there for another year or two, it’s tough but you will survive the sleep-deprivation)
Exercise: the feel-good factor of working out goes hand-in-hand with self love – whatever’s your thing, yoga, Barre, HIIT, cycle classes, running, aim to train at least 3 days a week and be as active as possible everyday, walking or cycling etc.
Meditation: personally, it took me a long time to ‘get’ meditation, now I don’t know how I resisted the mental and physical benefits for so long. If you find sitting still and breathing hard, don’t give up. Get comfortable, support your back if necessary, and prop your knees with cushions if your hips are tight. Close your eyes and simply inhale and exhale – you can use a mantra if it helps, silently inhaling ‘I am ’, exhaling ‘enough’. It’s that simple and that hard!
Treat yourself: buy yourself a frothy matcha latte, a bunch of flowers or a big tub of fresh mango. Watch something on Netflix you’d never admit to loving. Leave your desk at lunchtime for a walk. Wear your favourite patterned yoga pants. Apply a slick of bright lipstick. Rewarding yourself throughout the day with little treats like this signals to your brain that you’re a beautiful person worthy of being loved.
And now for the things that take more time and you might manage to do once a week or once a month.
Regular digital detoxes. Try to reduce the time you spend on social media. We all know that when we scroll through our feeds, we’re seeing the most flattering images of people, we’re seeing the most exciting aspects of their life, and we’re seeing the best parts of their day. No one is sharing the boring, uneventful, mundane aspects of their life and of themselves and even when they say they are I don’t actually believe them.
Enjoy the quiet time. An extra-long bath, a walk through the woods, an early morning meditation before everyone else is up – all these things take you closer back to who you truly are and are so good for the soul. Keep making the time to be quiet.
Do not let yourself get completely worn down. Running on empty is never a good idea. Learn when to say enough is enough. When we’re over tired, we tend to feel bad about ourselves and we tend to neglect ourselves even further. Once in a while, take a day off, even half a day off – book a yoga class, get your hair done, go for brunch with a friend. You will feel much more like yourself again.
Make room in your life for the things you love. Do you make time in your life for the things that make you happy or do you just do the things your partner, friends, kids want to do? Whatever you love – horse riding, going to yoga festivals, cooking, photography – make room for it, don’t let your passions drift away.
Set boundaries. Do you allow toxic habits, people and activities to sabotage your best life? If so, slowly and respectfully, start removing them. Think this one through carefully – it won’t happen overnight. For me, this meant looking at what was making me feel down and what was draining my energy – I have cut back on social media, given up my morning coffee and save my glass of wine for the weekends.
Researching this blog, I’ve learnt that if you put yourself to the bottom of the pile, so will everyone else but if you treat yourself like someone worthy of love, your life will be happier and more fulfilling. My journey isn’t complete and never will be (self-love is a process, not a destination), but I have come a long way and I hope you will too.
This has been a long blog covering a lot of ground, so if you have stayed with me to the end, thank you for reading. I hope you have found it helpful and you have some inspiration and tips you can take away and put to use in your daily life.