Written by Ellen Scott
If your new year’s resolution was to commit to self-love, you might now be wondering exactly how to do that. Wellbeing expert Sophie Elliott is here to help.
Self-love has become a buzzword on everyone’s to-do list in recent years. We’re told that we need to love ourselves before we can love anyone else, that self-knowledge is all, and being kinder to ourselves is an absolute must. That’s all very well, but where this focus gets tricky is the practical bit: how exactly do we show ourselves love?
And perhaps more importantly, how do we do that without feeling guilty, selfish or self-indulgent?
“Loving yourself can be a challenging task, especially if you have a tendency to feel guilty about taking care of your own needs and desires,” wellbeing expert Sophie Elliott tells Stylist. “Remember, learning to love yourself is a journey and it takes time and practice.”
To help us on that path, Sophie recommends five techniques to give a go.
Forgive yourself when you mess-up
Have you ever noticed that when a friend or coworker makes a mistake, you say it’s totally fine and no big deal, but if you dare to make even the tiniest error, you’re quick to believe you’re a total failure and the worst person alive? It’s time to leave self-berating behind.
Next time things don’t go exactly as planned, treat yourself as you would a good friend; that means understanding your intentions, reassuring yourself and encouraging yourself to keep going.
“We should try to be kind and understanding rather than harshly self-critical,” Elliott urges. “Let go of perfectionism. It’s OK to make mistakes and not be perfect. It’s human. Try to focus on your strengths and progress, rather than dwelling on your flaws or failures.
“Practise self-forgiveness by being kind and forgiving yourself if you think you have missed something or haven’t accomplished your preferred outcome. Go in front of the mirror and say to yourself: ‘I forgive you and love you anyway.’”
Set healthy boundaries
Here’s a healthy reminder: setting boundaries is an act of self-love.
Elliott says: “It’s important to prioritise your own needs and wellbeing. Don’t feel guilty for saying no to things that don’t align with your values or that drain your energy. Having the ability to prioritise personal time for self-care allows you to show up as the best version of yourself.
“Boundaries strengthen your sense of self, enabling you to have the ability to stay true to your sense of self, beliefs and passions.”
Set aside time for self-care
“Self-care has been defined as the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own wellbeing and happiness, especially during times of stress,” notes Elliott. “Make time for activities that nourish and rejuvenate you, such as exercise, hobbies or spending time with loved ones. Find a yoga class or meditation class to meet like-minded people or just a time to relax and build a regular self-care practice that cultivates self-esteem by being consistent with your practice. ”
If you’re finding the act of self-love tricky, remember you don’t have to do it alone. Work with a therapist, talk to friends and rope in accountability buddies who can join you on this journey.
“Surround yourself with supportive people who appreciate and respect you,” Elliott says. “It can also be helpful to work with a therapist or coach to develop self-love and self-compassion.”
Expressing gratitude is a science-backed way to feel happier and boost self-esteem. The good news? It’s a really easy step to add to your daily routine. Perhaps each morning or right before you go to sleep, you can write down three things you’re grateful for. Or you could use a chunk of your commute for this gratitude practice.
“Take a few moments each day to appreciate the things in your life that bring you joy and fulfilment,” suggests Elliott. “This can help shift your focus from negative self-judgment to positive self-acceptance.
“Writing a gratitude list in the morning brings clarity and focus on what matters in life. This is also a good time to set your intentions for the day.”
Sophie Elliott is a wellbeing and reiki expert and founder of Present-Beings, the wellbeing subscription box company.
Images: Getty; Stylist
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