What is self-love? This phrase has been receiving a lot of buzz on self-help and wellness blogs, but what does it really mean and how can it affect your mental health?Self-love generally refers to appreciating yourself and treating yourself with kindness, both in thought and in action. Over time, practicing actions that promote self-love can help both your physical and psychological well-being. Practicing self-love can improve your self-esteem, make you aware of your strengths and allow you to be more accepting of your weaknesses.
Here are a few ways you can practice self-love for good mental health.
- Practice self-care.
Taking care of your basic needs is essential to being mentally healthy. Exercising, maintaining proper nutrition, and getting enough sleep all help to improve and maintain good mental health. But self-care can be difficult for some. Things like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or wearing clean clothes each day might seem simple, but they can be tough to do, especially if you struggle with something like depression, anxiety or another form of mental illness. When you feel low or stressed, self-care can be put on the back burner, but it should be just the opposite. Practicing self-care daily, no matter how small, is a healthy habit and a great way to practice self-love.
- Focus on your needs, not your wants.
While you might want to do things that feel good or exciting, practicing self-love means choosing to do the things that keep you focused on your goals and moving towards a healthier, happier life. This can be especially true for people struggling with addiction. Practicing self-love means putting your needs - like choosing recovery and working towards sobriety - before your wants.
- Set healthy boundaries.
Allow yourself to say no to things that wear you down, or that harm you physically or emotionally. This applies to your work, personal life, relationships, and recreational activities. Surround yourself with a healthy support system that includes people who respect your boundaries and who will keep you accountable. Protecting yourself from people who don’t wish you well is essential to self-love.
- Forgive others.
Practicing forgiveness can take time, especially if you don’t feel ready to let go of past hurts. Counseling can help you learn how to forgive and can teach you the coping skills you need to let go of trauma or hurt from your past. Practicing forgiveness can facilitate healing and ultimately allow you to develop a sense of self-love.
- Forgive yourself.
Just like practicing self-care, forgiving ourselves can take a back seat when we feel low or stressed. We might forget that we need to forgive ourselves just as much as we need to forgive others. Remember, in life, no one is perfect and it’s normal to make mistakes when we are growing or learning. That is just a part of being human. Forgiving yourself can be difficult but not impossible, and it is something that you can learn to do through counseling.
As with all habits, practice makes perfect and self-love is something worth practicing for good mental health. If you need help developing these five self-love habits, speaking with a counselor could help. If you struggle with mental illness, practicing self-love can be difficult. Through counseling, we can help you change your life for the better.