Self-love and self-care are expressions we hear more and more frequently but what do they mean and how can practicing both of these help improve our lives? We explore the power of self-love and why it should be top of your priority list.
February is often viewed as the month of love, with Cupid targeting his arrows at unwitting passers by! For many of us, when we think about the word love, emotions such as being in love, loving our family and friends and caring for others, be that our children, partner or elderly relatives, comes to mind. Often this leaves very little time or consideration for ourselves, for you. Do you love yourself enough? Are you kind and considerate to you?
Is Self-love and self-care the same thing?
Self-love can simply be described as the thoughts and feelings we have about ourselves. How we regard ourselves and if our thoughts are kind or negative.
Self-Care predominantly focuses on our actions to look after ourselves. The more self-love we have, the more likely we are to follow self-care actions that improve our health and wellbeing. This leads to higher self-esteem and a belief that it is worth investing time into our self-care.
Why is self-love good for mental health?
Practicing self-love doesn’t change things overnight but in time, accepting yourself for who you are will improve your self-esteem. This in turn will allow you to have more confidence in your abilities and to develop a positive ‘can do’ attitude.
People with higher self-esteem are more likely to recognise and play to their strengths whilst being more accepting of their weaknesses. All of this positivity will naturally help maintain your mental health which is why self-love is so powerful and important.
How Can I Practice Self-Care?
There are lots of things you can do and it’s never too late to start. From small acts to really taking control and setting boundaries to protect yourself from people who have a negative impact on your life.
1. Exercise / Keeping Active
There are so many benefits to keeping physically active it’s impossible to list them all. Remaining physically fit and healthy is an act of self-care. From gentle to high impact you just need to find what you enjoy and are likely to stick at. There are lots of walking and couch to 5k running groups if you’re just starting out. Even a 15 minutes walk outside everyday will have a positive impact on your physical and emotional well-being.
Have you ever tried Nordic Walking before? Combining exercise, fresh air and a great way to meet new people as well. Your Healthy Steps have been running 4 week taster courses at Wootton Park, find out more here.
Getting enough sleep is really important for self-care. Without adequate sleep, we just can’t function properly and it can be really detrimental to our mental health. We will all experience times in our lives when we might struggle to fall asleep or go back to sleep if we wake in the night. There are different things you can do to improve sleep but if sleep issues continue, you do need to see a GP.
Eating a balanced healthy diet is a core part of self-care. Our bodies need a healthy, varied and balanced diet to function properly. When we eat well, we feel great. If you don’t give your body the fuel and energy it needs to function properly, it will affect all other aspects of your life. Download a free copy of the Wootton Park Wellness Smoothies & Juices Recipe Booklet here.
4. Good hygiene
Taking care of our basic needs such as getting of bed each morning, getting dressed, showering and brushing our teeth is crucial for self-care. Second nature to many of us but if you’re struggling with your mental health, it can be very difficult to motivate yourself to do these things every day. During those lockdown months, people working from home have commented how they preferred to ‘dress for the office’ or at least the top half for Zoom calls! However, when you’re feeling low or depressed, it’s important to try not to neglect these basic needs as this will ultimately make you feel worse.
5. Saying No
sounds easier in your head than it can be in reality. Your boss is being overdemanding or family members want more of your time than you’re able to give. It can be simpler to just say yes and go along with something.
However, even after you have said yes, you are allowed to change your mind and say no, it causes you anxiety, stress or to feel unhappy. It’s important to learn to politely decline an invitation or the chance to take on more work or even a promotion if it will affect your mental health adversely in the long-term.
6. Switch Off
Give yourself permission to take a break and just stop. Pick up that book and read a few pages, grab half an hour at lunchtime to watch that show on Netflix or treat yourself to a massage. It can be difficult to allow ourselves these moments of calm but we need them if we are to navigate through any storms that arise or just cope with the daily demands of life. Try and do one thing a day that you enjoy.
7. Stop Scrolling
Switch off technology, the constant scrolling can have a negative impact on your self-esteem, especially if we start comparing ourselves to the glossy lifestyles we might see online. If this happens, turn off your phone for an hour or so or delete a particular app for a while. Distance yourself from the cause that might be making you feel negative towards yourself.
8. Learn forgiveness
Learn forgiveness to yourself and others. We can be so hard on ourselves, if we made a mistake at work or gave in and ate that slice of cake. It’s not the end of the world so take a deep breath and move on. Learn from what has happened and see it as a positive. You can always start again tomorrow. Similarly, holding on to a grudge, anger or even a trauma can eat away at us. There are a number of ways to let go of something and to learn to move on and embrace the future.
Spend 15-20 minutes a day clearing clutter, the post, those overflowing drawers or wardrobe or perhaps the fridge needs a clean out. Studies have shown that cluttered environments can cause stress and a feeling of lower self-control. By ridding your space of excess stuff, you will automatically fell calmer and happier in your surroundings.
10. Go On A Retreat
Book yourself on to a Wellness Retreat! Here at Wootton Park Wellness, we offer both overnight and day programmes for individuals, couples, groups and corporate teams. A fabulous way to allow yourself to switch off from technology, the outside world and think about you for at least a few precious hours.
This quote by Eleanor Brown is very true:
“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Learning to love and care for yourself is key to a happier and healthier life. If we can’t love ourselves, how can we possibly love others?