How to stop struggling and start appreciating yourself
February 14th rolls around every year and it means something to each person. To some, it’s a time to cuddle up with their honey, for some it’s to throw a wine and cheese ‘Galentines Day party, and for others, it’s to buy chocolate on clearance on February 15th and indulge in their sorrows of being single. No matter what Valentine’s Day brings up for you, there is something that we all can benefit from – some extra self-love. Let’s make Valentine’s Day 2021 the year that we put all that affection, appreciation, and love towards ourselves.
Let’s face it, the past year has been rough. We have been living through a global crisis for almost a year, that has put our body under undeniable stress. Our bodies and minds are resilient, showing up for us every day and fighting through various circumstances. It’s time to show up for yourself now and appreciate the incredible person that you are.
This holiday can be commercialized to focus on relationships with other people – and while it is nice to celebrate a day of love with your honey, it’s even more significant to love yourself and celebrate who you are. Loving yourself not only deepens the relationship you have with yourself and your self-esteem, but it can also improve the relationship you have with others. The relationship we have with ourselves is like one we have with other people – to make the relationship strong we have to connect, check-in, be compassionate, and understanding circumstances. No relationship with other people is perfect and we can’t expect the relationship with ourselves to be perfect. Think about it, do you expect perfection out of your friends or partner? Chances are, you don’t expect that – and you accept the other person even when they mess up. Why is it so hard for us to give ourselves that same level of compassion and understanding? Taking the time to appreciate and forgive ourselves is something that people often struggle with. We are a harsher critic to ourselves than we are to other people, and this inner critic can lead to feelings of shame, incompetence, disappointment, or rejection. This Valentine’s Day – the team at BeWELL encourages you to challenge that inner-critic, reflect on where it originated, and think about ways that you can be both accountable for your actions and treat yourself with compassion. We can hold ourselves accountable while also being kind to ourselves. If you are someone who struggles to be kind to yourself or find self-love, then this Valentine’s Day is a great place to start on that journey! You are deserving of it. Not sure where to start? Here are some ways to practice self-love this Valentine’s Day.
Here are some ways to honor yourself this Valentine’s Day and deepen the relationship that you have with yourself.
Write down five things that you did in the past year that made you proud
The past year was tough – and your mind and body were probably under some of the most intense stress that it has ever been under. With a global pandemic, routines are thrown upside down, life-changes, health worries, and financial scares – millions of people worldwide have been struggling. Research even shows that mental health stress dramatically rose over this past year. You should be PROUD that you have made it through the past year. Think about the feeling that you get when people say, “I am proud of you” and express celebration around something you have done. It’s a pretty good feeling, isn’t it? We deserve to give ourselves that same praise – and incorporate self-validation into our daily routines. Take the time to write down a few moments in the past year that made you proud of yourself. The first one can be making it through one of the craziest years! What are some other things that you are proud of? Write them down and appreciate yourself!
Forgive yourself for things you did in the past
One of the biggest topics that are discussed in therapy is mistakes or regrets of the past. Regrets or decisions made can often loom over people’s mind like a dark cloud – and makes it difficult to enjoy or appreciate the day to day life. Holding onto the regret can bring up themes of shame in life, and the same often comes with a strong inner critic. This year start to gently swap out that shame with forgiveness. Forgiveness that people make mistakes, we do things we may not be proud of and can use unhelpful strategies to cope when times are tough. All of these experiences are a part of being human. Similar to how you would forgive a loved one, start to practice forgiving yourself. Experiences of the past are what provide the opportunity for growth. Use that growth to deepen the relationship with yourself.
Check-in with what you need
When is the last time that you’ve asked yourself what you need? Not what you need to get from the grocery store, from Starbucks, or what you need to put on your calendar. We are talking about what you need deep down to feel fulfilled, connected, and loved. ‘Inner child’ work is something that has been buzzing around in the mental health space, and if you haven’t heard of it – it’s a powerful tool for healing your carefree and lighter self – or your inner child. As we grow up, we start to internalize the pressure from society, those around us, and expectations and through this process, we can get lost in the noise and forget about what we really need deep down. If we stay routines of busy schedules, no breaks, and minimal boundaries – then we don’t have space to check-in with our needs. We encourage people to take a day to ‘re-set’ and think deeply about what they need. A way to find what you need is to reflect on what may be lacking in your life or what you wish you had. When you find answers to these, then think of ways that you can get your needs met so that you feel fulfilled and are able to “fill your cup” up.
Try your best to make this into a routine and checking-up on your needs at the end of each week.
Write out positive affirmations/a love note to yourself
There is a lot of research behind positive affirmations and the long-term changes adding this practice to your routine can have. Affirmations can make lasting impacts on how you think and feel. If you speak to yourself in a positive way, science finds that you are more likely to have better self-esteem, increased communication in relationships, more self-confidence, and increased motivation. BeWELL works with many people who are working through their frequent negative self-talk and low self-esteem. A way that therapists encourage their clients to work on this is through daily positive affirmations, typically at the beginning of the day. Doing this helps start the day off in a way that promotes self-love. If you are interested in learning more about positive affirmations and self-healing, we encourage you to read the book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ by Louise Hay.
Here are some examples of positive affirmations:
- I believe in myself, and I am capable of what today brings
- I am a successful person, I will do great things
- I love what I bring to the world, I am special and important
- I am resilient, strong, and amazing
- I am in charge of my thoughts, and I don’t need to judge myself
- I don’t need anyone but myself to be happy
- I bring something special to the world and to those around me
- I will accept and love myself fully. I am deserving of love
Spoil yourself and practice self-care
You are deserving of spoiling yourself and having a day of self-care! Put your legs up, put on a face mask, grab your favorite take-out food, and pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage. Whatever self-care looks like for you, do that. Self-care is a necessary way to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. We often tell our clients that “we can’t pour out of an empty cup” meaning that if we pour out all our energy to other areas of our lives (work, friendships, obligations, finances, academics, etc.) then we won’t have anything left for ourselves. Many people end up taking care of other people or obligations with all of their energy, that then they are left feeling depleted and exhausted. When you find yourself in a position like this, you may need some self-care to “fill your cup up”. Valentine’s Day is a holiday where people spoil their loved ones, and when trying to find the “perfect present” many people forget to spoil themselves, too. You can treat yourself to a nice dinner, get some candy, and gift yourself with something that you’ve been wanting.
Here are some examples of self-care:
- Taking time away from your phone
- Cooking your favorite meal
- Pouring yourself a glass of your favorite beverage
- Cleaning your living space
- Getting a massage
- Moving your body (going for a walk, a run, doing yoga)
- Playing with a dog/cat
- Practicing deep breathing
- Watching a movie/TV
- Unfollowing people on social media who make you feel upset/insecure
- Listening to music you enjoy or an inspiring podcast (BeREAL is one of our favorite Podcasts to listen to for self-care)
One of the best ways to incorporate self-love into your life is to have someone to hold you accountable. Our BeWELL therapists work with hundreds of people who are struggling with self-esteem, motivation, relationships, and negative self-talk and help them transform their life into one that is rooted in self-love. If you find yourself struggling to love yourself the same way that you may love others, then therapy may be something that could help you. Want to learn more about therapy? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your free consultation today!