"The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself. Because no matter what happens, you will always be with yourself"
- Diane Von Furstenberg
Hello, you. Yes, I'm talking to you. Did you know that you're the most wonderful person in the world? Hmmm, well maybe you should. Practising self-love can be a challenge, especially at a time when you may feel low due to circumstances surrounding you, but starting a New Year is a great reason to start putting yourself first and taking care efficiently. Practising self-love isn't narcissistic nor is it being self-centred, it's about being in touch with ourselves and treating ourselves with respect, love and dignity. The reason why we practice self-love is to allow ourselves to believe in our true potential and to achieve goals. It's all about pushing boundaries, exceeding our own expectations and increasing our self-esteem.
So, why wait? Look at your reflection in the mirror, take a deep breath, give yourself a little hug and tell yourself that you're awesome. Because you are. Here are 20 ways to practice self-love.
1. Eat and drink whatever makes you feel good. As much as healthy eating is obviously good for your body, punishing yourself by excluding cake and chocolate from your diet is unfair. Treat your taste buds, smile, enjoy it. If you want that double cheeseburger with mushroom, onions and a side order of fries, order it!
2. Learn to love the skin you're in by moving it freely. If you want to make changes, make those changes. Take up running, cycling, swimming, or dancing, challenge yourself and be productive in sweat. There's nothing better than feeling revived.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others. It's inevitable that the inner critic will come out but the more and more you look at others' lives instead of your own, the more you'll punish yourself. The only person you should be in competition with is yourself.
4. Say goodbye to toxic relationships. Anyone who doesn't strive to support or love you does not deserve a place in your life. There are far more people out there who will treat you with respect and will love you for you.
5. Take time to breathe. 5 minutes is all you need to calm your mind every day. Inhale, exhale. Practice being mindful and be at peace with your thoughts.
6. Follow your passion. Aim to achieve that goal that excites you and scares you at the same time. There's nothing more attractive than ambition - chase after it.
7. Treat others the way you want to be treated. This is important. In order for you to respect yourself, you have to respect others. It makes us feel a lot better when we are kind and compassionate. Unfortunately, not everyone will reciprocate but that's on their conscience, not yours!
8. Reach out. To friends, family, therapists, or whomever you need to help you get through tough times. We've all been there, it's okay not to be okay, but it's not okay to deal with it alone.
9. Get creative. Write a song, cook up a storm, paint a picture, express yourself in any way you like. You might end up surprising yourself by finding a new hidden talent of yours.
10. Forgive. Now, this can be a really hard one, especially if you've really been hurt. But you know what, life is too short to hold grudges either big or small. Forgiving doesn't mean being best friends with that person again, it means letting go of a situation that clouds your thinking. We don't have to carry that weight on our shoulders anymore, we are better than that.
11. Ignite that fire within. Go and have fun, be spontaneous and free spirited. Regretting what you did do is better than regretting what you didn't do.
12. Celebrate your wins. No matter how big or small, you deserve a big pat on a back with a side order of ice cream because, you, my friend, are a champion.
13. Write it down. Ever feel like your thoughts are racing all over the place and your eyes start to look like the eyes of a character out of Looney Toons? Get that shit down on paper and close it, burn it, tear it up or do whatever you need to do, just get it all in there.
14. Learn to say no. This really doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you an intelligent person who knows what you want. Period.
15. Turn off the TV. Instead, pick up a cup of tea or coffee and just be. No distractions, no background noise, no phone, just peace and quiet. Appreciate the sounds you hear around you, and think about all the wonderful things that are happening in your life right now.
16. Find your happy place. Whether that's your favourite park bench or a quiet corner in a coffee shop, or perhaps your window seat surrounded by all your books, find your peaceful place where you can collect your thoughts. Think about how that place makes you feel, how it smells, what it looks like. Imagine going back to that place during hard times.
17. Embrace your differences. Everyone is unique but that's what makes each of us special. Those flaws you speak of? Rubbish. That's what makes you beautiful.
18. Stick to your guns. Having an opinion on something is great but not everyone will agree with you, and that's totally okay. It's important, however, to stay true to your values and beliefs and to not change them just because someone else doesn't like it.
19. Practice gratitude. Think of three great things that made you smile and feel good. This could range from a smile you received from a stranger to feeling the breeze graze your cheek.
20. Sleep. How many hours does your body need to feel completely rested? Do you wake up ready to conquer the day or are you feeling sluggish? Is there anything of note that is disrupting your sleep pattern, any worries, concerns or troubles bothering you? Time to address them and get yourself some quality Zzz's.
But if you ever doubt yourself, remember this.