Today’s post is about self-love practices you can start today because I feel like it is quite a vague term to “love yourself” and we don’t even understand what it means or where to start?
So here I will give you 9 practical things you can do in order to start practicing self-love!
When it comes to eating disorder recovery then making peace with yourself, accepting yourself and even loving yourself can be important steps towards healing.
And I don’t see “self-love” as something superficial like “I love myself so much and think I am better than everybody else” or that self-love is anything to do with loving how you look externally. To me, self-love is more like the kind of relationship I have with myself, it is more about accepting myself as I am through my “good and bad” days, respecting myself and knowing my value, treating myself like I would treat a loved one and unconditionally loving myself even when I do not feel good about myself.
You can make your own meaning of self-love and what it represents to you but I hope with this post I can help you to take some practical steps towards loving yourself as you are.
So let’s begin!
1. Practice compassionate self-talk
When it comes to having a healthy and loving relationship with yourself I think practicing compassionate self-talk is one of the most important things.
Having a loving relationship with yourself starts with first speaking to yourself kindly and compassionately.
Talk to yourself like you would talk to a best friend or a loved one.
Things like self-criticism, self-judgment and just generally having a negative inner voice will affect how you feel about yourself, which will affect your behavior and the actions you take, which will lead to certain results. Your negative thoughts about yourself will lead to negative results because of the impact it has on your behavior and actions. So remember, your thoughts and self-talk are literally creating your life and the result you get!
So start to talk to yourself with compassion and kindness. Encourage yourself, praise yourself and support yourself.
At first, this may feel weird or even unnatural. But the more you practice this the more normal and easy it gets. And over time speaking to yourself positively and kindly can become your new normal. I guarantee you will see massive positive changes in your life because with this compassionate self-talk you automatically raise your vibration to a whole new level!
2. Practice gratitude
Most often we rather focus on things we don’t have or things that are wrong in our lives. And we don’t notice all the things we can be grateful for and what is good in our lives. Feeling gratitude is an instant positive boost to your vibration and the relationship you have with yourself.
And while it is great to have future goals and dreams I think it can also make us too focused on all of the things we don’t have yet. So because of this, it is important to start to be grateful for the things you have in your life at this current moment.
Also, I encourage you to even notice small things like the sunshine on your face, a hug from a loved one, reading a good book…if you can be grateful for even for the small things then it doesn’t take much to feel happy.
What I recommend you to do is to get a journal and start writing a gratitude list every day. You can write five things you are grateful for each day. You can do it the first thing after you wake up so it sets a positive tone for your day. Or you can do it the last thing before you go to bed because it is a great way to end your day and go to sleep with positive thoughts.
3. Practice self-care
This can also be one of the foundations for building a loving and caring relationship with yourself. Self-care helps you to take care of your own needs and improve your physical health, mental health, and overall life quality and wellbeing.
Self-care can be quite a broad term and you can find out what self-care practices feel good for you and what you would like to implement, but here I will give you some examples:
- getting enough sleep, having a good night routine
- prioritizing regular eating to have stable and good energy levels throughout the day
- wearing comfortable clothing that makes you feel good
- booking an appointment with your doctor
- asking help from others when you are too busy
- taking a rest day from work
- meditation and mindfulness practices
- going to a therapist
- connecting with family and friends
- watching movies that inspire you or comedy that make you laugh
- writing a gratitude list every morning
- (add your own examples)
4. Practice observing your thoughts
Observing your thoughts is a great way to lessen the negative impact your thoughts have on you.
Because a thought can be just a thought, but what really hurts us is the emotional reaction we have to a thought. We give it a negative meaning. We take it seriously and let it ruin our day. We take one thought we had and buy into it and believe that “I had this thought, therefore, it must be the truth” But this is NOT true!
A great way to stop taking your negative thoughts seriously is to practice being a neutral observer of your thoughts. This is a mindfulness exercise – to mentally separate yourself from a thought and see it from an outside perspective.
Like watching an ocean wave coming and going safely from the beach. The wave is coming and then it’s going. It’s just a wave of thoughts. You will not give it a label or a meaning, it’s neutral. And as it will come, it will also go. You don’t need to react to it but just observe it from a distance.
I also explain this a bit more in one of my videos about brain rewiring and changing your emotional reaction to throughs, see it HERE.
Remember, you are more than a body and your body is more than an object.
Start to write down all things you are grateful for your body, and this can go way beyond how your body looks. Very often we criticise our body and take it for granted, we forget to notice how amazing it really is and how much it actually does for us.
Also, write down a list of things you like about yourself. It can be traits of your personality, some achievements you are proud of, it could be your personal values or some unique skills you have.
Start to focus on things that are good about you beyond how you look. And also notice things that are good about your body beyond how your body looks!
Because remember – your body is a tool, not an accessory.
6. Feel your feelings and emotions
I think a lot of suffering comes from suppressing our feelings and emotions. We bottle it up and then it creates stress, which can create even physical illness and also mental health problems.
The feelings are simply an energy that needs to be released in healthy ways and then we actually start to feel better. But when we hold it in, suppress it, deny it, force it away, judge it, shame it, then it starts to hurt us. Allowing yourself to feel your feelings is definitely an act of self-love.
How I do it is whenever I have a thought that creates a negative feeling, instead of letting the thought spiral in my head I go straight into my body and observe where and how the feeling is in my body. I just observe the feeling and let it be just as it is, without judging it or trying to make it go away. I let the feeling just be there unconditionally, and almost like saying to the feeling “you are ok, I welcome you, I am unconditionally here with you now.”
You may even describe the feeling, like “it’s a ball of energy in my stomach”, or “It’s a pit in my throat” or “It’s burning sensation in my heart”. And you may see it changing shapes or colors or changing locations in your body.
I simply allow it to be without judgment.
And as you allow it unconditionally then, over time, it will actually pass because you allowed it to be released instead of suppressed.
A good video on this is “Healing the emotional body” by Teal Swan.
7. Stop comparing yourself to others
When we compare ourselves we tend to compare our weaknesses to other people’s strengths. Or we see maybe ONE thing we like about another person but forget to notice a bunch of things that might be wrong with them or in their lives as well. We nitpick and it stops us seeing the whole picture.
For example, when you see that someone else has that “perfect body”, let’s say, you tend to only focus on that one thing and think this is all there is to it, “it’s so effortless for them and they also must be very happy because they have that “perfect body”. We give automatic labels and see things only from the surface. But very often what you see is only the tip of an iceberg.
A person with that “perfect body” could very well suffer from an eating disorder or be trapped in dieting and restriction. So many people who diet, yes, they may be thinner, but they struggle with binge eating, food obsession and even while thin they still don’t like their body! They can actually still hate it. Because the problem is in their mindset, the problem is never their body.
Or you see someone else’s “perfect life” on social media and think it must mean that they have their life together and all things figured out. But in reality, it’s just one picture, and actually they could have relationship issues, health issues, problems with their mental health, something you don’t see necessarily from the picture. There is always more to the full story than meets the eye.
What I recommend you to do is:
- First, always focus on the fact that there is always more going on than meets the eye. When you compare yourself with someone then know that what you see is just the tip of the iceberg and there is so much more going on than you think. And so many things you actually would not trade from their lives to yours.
- And secondly, since so much comparison can happen thanks to social media, who we follow, what pictures we see every day (there is too much of that these days than ever before in our human history), then really be very aware of who you follow and how they make you feel. And unfollow people who make you feel bad about yourself and follow people who make you feel good. Do a clean up in your social media.
8. Meet your own needs
Everybody has needs. Things we need in order to feel loved, happy and content. It would be great if other people could meet all of our needs but unfortunately, they can’t, it is not even their job. It’s yours.
If you wait for other people to meet your needs before you can be happy…then you will forever keep on being unhappy.
So instead, know that you can start to meet your own needs!
Whatever you want other people to say to you – say it to yourself!
Whatever you want other people to do for you – do it for yourself!
If you want to hear others praise you, to say something encouraging to you, then start to praise yourself, say something nice to yourself, compliment yourself.
If you want others to accept you just as you are – the start with accepting yourself as you are! Start to work on self-acceptance first!
Think about it, often we want other people to do something for us that we can’t even do for ourselves. Plus, by waiting for others to do it before YOU do it, you give all your power away to other people. Then your happiness will depend on other people. And this is a recipe for forever feeling unhappy.
Also, if you want others to comfort you when you feel sad, start to comfort yourself, take care of yourself, be there for yourself when you have a hard time! Very often we want others to comfort us while we continue to criticize ourselves. It doesn’t even make sense!
Or if you want others to tell you that they love you, then you can start to tell yourself that you love yourself. Yes, it may take time to get to that point but you can start to practice that unconditional self-love.
Which brings me to my next point…
9. Practice unconditional self-love
For many people self-love may feel like a very foreign subject. Or they even feel uncomfortable talking or thinking about “loving themselves”.
But for me, there is a totally different meaning from just “loving myself” or “loving myself unconditionally”. The first one is maybe more like on a superficial way, but the second one for me has a deeper meaning and understanding.
Unconditional self-love for me doesn’t mean I feel good about myself every day, but it means I love myself even when I don’t feel good about myself every day.
It’s like when you have a child, you don’t love them only when they behave nicely or they are in a good mood, but you love them even when they are crying and screaming. It’s unconditional love. Meaning that there are no conditions to be met in order for you to love them. You love them with their good and with their bad. They can be who they are, they can still learn and grow and make mistakes. But you still love them regardless. This love is free from judgment. It gives the person the freedom to be exactly who they are as they are and at the same time feel that it’s ok to express and experience everything life has to offer. They can still be loved regardless.
So this is how I think about unconditional self-love. For me, it’s not some vague term. And I feel I can give myself this type of self-love without needing to actually focus too hard on it every day. Because it’s always there regardless. Just as I know I’m worthy just by existing and the universe didn’t make a mistake by creating me, I know I’m worthy of unconditional self-love just by being who I am.
I don’t have to “earn it” or do something to “get it”, I just have it.
I hope you have found this post about self-love practices helpful for you and you are committed to implementing at least some of these things into your life!
Let me know in the comments below if you have any other self-love practices to add to this list!
One on one recovery coaching
If you want one on one help for your recovery then please apply for my 12-Week Recovery Coaching Program where I will be your support and accountability. You will get step by step recovery approach with weekly goals and homework assignments to reach your full recovery. Read more and apply HERE.
If you are interested in eating disorder recovery, how to heal your relationship with food and yourself then I recommend you to read my book BrainwashED.