The way we love ourselves can be radically different than how we love others. The things we do in consideration of others, we often don't extend to ourselves. We can be harder on ourselves and less likely to take our own needs into account. For all who struggle with caring for yourself, here are eight small ways you can start.
1) Forgive Yourself
All too often we say the phrase “I could never forgive myself.” Slights that we breeze over in others become huge flaws in ourselves. But this is not true. You can forgive yourself. This guilt that you hold onto prevents you from moving forward, growing, and learning from your mistakes. Give yourself grace. You are human and are bound to have errors, and that is okay. Now step forward into a new day.
2) Positive Self-Talk
Building off of forgiving yourself, also look at how you talk to yourself. Every day, thoughts pass through our heads, some positive, others observational, and others judgemental to both others and ourselves. A lot of the time we confront our negative thoughts about other people, but with ourselves, we take it as instant truth. But for many of us, our thoughts about ourselves are of a negative slant.
Confront those thoughts when they come up. Treat yourself like you would a true best friend. You speak to your friend in kindness, support them when they are down and are honest with them, but not harsh and judgemental. Filter your thoughts so that you are speaking to yourself in that same way.
3) Understand Your Limits
Another part of loving yourself is knowing yourself. Take the time to get a sense of how much energy you have during the day and what over taxes or tires you. Think about how much you can really take on emotionally, physically in the day-to-day. Separate work and your time off as much as possible. You cannot always be available for everyone all the time. Just as a company must define its mission and product and stay within that narrow scope, you must find what you can manage successfully, while also being able to thrive.
4) Build a Support Network
We were meant to live in a community, but not everyone we are close to has our best interests at heart. Look at those that you talk to the most. Who will be there for you when you are down? Who can pick you up, help you problem-solve, walk you through difficulties, and give you the support you need? If you can’t think of anyone, don’t give in to despair. Now is the time to find your people that will have your back, challenge you to grow, but also encourage you in everything. The people in your support network are some of the most important people you will ever know.
5) Take Care of Yourself
Please hear this loud and clear: the goal is not to look a certain way or to please ridiculous societal standards of youth and beauty. No, the goal is to take care of yourself so you can have energy during your day to do what you need to do. This will mean eating healthy and exercising but in moderation. This also means going to your primary doctor, specialist, and therapist when you need to.
Don’t forget to listen to your body. If it is telling you that it is tired, rest. This might seem obvious, but often we sacrifice our own needs, thinking that they’re not important, when if we took the time to care for ourselves, the quality of our lives would improve.
6) Take Time for What You Enjoy
It can’t be all work and no play. Find something that gives you joy to do, and then go out and do it. What is your hobby, what gets you excited? Explore those things; take the time to learn more about them. Don’t have a hobby? Pick one or two to learn. Make sure you are intentional in scheduling the time for this. Block it out in your week and protect that time from your mile-long to-do list. These 2-3 hours are for you to do yoga, write my book, fix this old car, something that gives you joy. Stick to it.
7) Reflect, Write, Meditate, Pray
Self-reflection enables you to look at yourself, your emotions, and your actions and to process through them. For some, it helps them to write things down, but you don’t have to. If you do enjoy writing, consider composing some poetry or prose, in addition to journaling, as another way to express yourself. Another beneficial add-on to this is meditation and prayer. If faith is an important part of your life, the ability to turn to God to talk about your life is a powerful outlet.
8) Give yourself an emotional outlet
Sometimes when we feel angry, stressed, or sad, we stuff our emotions down deep inside us and refuse to let them out. This backfires when these emotions build up and we explode out when something small happens because we didn’t address the prior emotional triggers. Find a way to release your anger or sadness. Find a place to cry or listen to sad music. Take up boxing, scream into a pillow, do what you can to address it around the time when he hurt first occurs so that it does not build up inside. If you are having trouble with this, seek professional help. It is what we have trained for, to have the skills to help people when they need it.
If you need more help learning how you can take care of yourself better and process difficulties in your life, check out Covenant Way Wellness. Teletherapy is accessible and we accept most insurance plans!