By now you’ve probably heard the term “showing up for yourself.” It’s becoming increasingly trendy as a way to practice self-care — and for good reason. With work-related stress at an all-time high, it’s important that each of us learn to be our own advocate to thrive in our world of near-constant connectivity.
Numerous celebrities have stepped forward to share their struggles with mental health and highlight the importance of being your own advocate, including Prince Harry, Demi Lovato, and Hailey Baldwin. Kesha even made it the highlight of her heartfelt Billboard Women in Music acceptance speech, saying, “If you keep showing up for yourself, you can move mountains… Do not let anyone else take your happiness.”
But what does it really mean to show up for yourself on a daily basis?
“The concept of ‘showing up for oneself’ is trendy at the moment, as is the notion of self-care in general. And that’s fabulous! But it’s one of those things that can be overused to the point that it becomes misunderstood or even trivialized,” Dr. Denise Fournier, Ph.D., L.M.H.C., a clinical therapist and adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University, tells Thrive. “When you consider the idea of showing up for yourself from a mental health perspective, it actually has tremendous depth and significance. Showing up for yourself is all about making your own needs — be they practical, physical, emotional, or spiritual — a priority… and knowing that unless you show up for yourself, you can’t fully show up for anyone or anything else.”
Dr. Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., a Mill Valley, C.A.-based clinical psychologist who specializes in stress and mindfulness, and author of The Stress-Proof Brain, tells Thrive that showing up for yourself also means finding time for self-care amid our busy lives.
“We spend so much of our time either on ‘automatic pilot,’ doing routine, mundane things, overworking, or doing things for others. Showing up for yourself means taking a break from all of that in order to be mindful and present, to care for your own health, or to nurture your own creativity and energy,” she says.
Here are some ways that you can begin to incorporate this practice into your own life, starting right now.
Acknowledge where you are. One of the most important parts of self-care is simply acknowledging your present state without judgment, Fournier says.
“The paradoxical truth is, we need to first accept ourselves as we are so that we can change. Anyone who wants to start showing up for themselves but doesn’t know how can actually start right now by giving themselves full permission to be exactly where they are,” Fournier says.
Notice negative self-talk, and make it constructive. You know that little voice in your head — the one that tells you that you aren’t good enough, or that you aren’t worthy of a certain accomplishment, or deserving of happiness? We’ve all experienced it — Thrive Global Founder and CEO Arianna Huffington calls it the obnoxious roommate — and it’s a major saboteur of mental well-being.
Hailey Baldwin admitted to letting this inner critic attack her self worth in a recent Instagram post, and fought back by writing, “I am enough, and I’m loved, and you are enough and you’re loved.” Take a page from her book and change the direction of your internal monologue when you notice your own judgments bringing you down. Make an effort to say something kind, supportive, or encouraging to yourself — science shows that can improve self-esteem.
Create a personal mantra, and repeat it to yourself when you need a boost. One trick to kicking out negative thoughts and replacing them with strong, confident ones is to use a personal mantra. Pick one that inspires you while scrolling through Instagram (we have lots on Thrive’s account!), or craft one of your own that makes you feel powerful and reassured. Studies have shown that repeating a mantra can have a calming and empowering effect.
Write in a gratitude journal. Greenberg recommends keeping a gratitude journal where you can write down what you’re grateful for and express appreciation to yourself for actions that serve your values. You can make this part of your morning or nightly routine, or simply use it as a guide to check in with yourself once a week.
Carve out some time for yourself every day. Between work, daily tasks, family, and friends, it can feel like there’s not enough time in the day for everything you need to do — much less what you want to. But reserving a few minutes for yourself each day can help boost well-being — just take it from Jennifer Aniston, who recently celebrated her 50th birthday and, by her own account, counts self-care as one of the secrets to her own happiness.
“It should be one of our number one priorities to take care of our inner minds, souls, and bodies, because it helps us prepare for the day that we’re about to embark upon. For me, it’s meditation, exercise, a Sunday spa day where I will do a facial [mask], and a scrub,” Aniston told Allure. Whatever your self-care routine looks like, make your brain and body happy by setting aside some time for it every single day.
Showing up for yourself will differ based on your personal goals and needs. If it changes over time (and it likely will!) that’s ok, too. Whatever it looks like for you, it’s important to keep in mind that the purpose is to get into the practice of supporting yourself in a myriad of ways. If you’re new to the idea, pick one or two of the methods listed above and make an effort to gradually incorporate them into your habits. With enough time, standing up for yourself will become second nature — and you might just be surprised at how powerful that is.
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