It can be hard to love yourself unconditionally, it’s almost trendy in our society to put yourself down, but this Valentine’s week lets change the script. Here are some self-love tips for you.
In my teens and into my twenties I had an intense hatred for myself, I barely ate, I drank a lot of alcohol, I left an incredible man to be with someone abusive… the list goes on and on.
There wasn’t a moment that changed, one day I decided to change it all, but I do know the stress of that time along with qualifying as a nurse is probably why I got sick. Mistreating my body that already had illnesses it was trying to cope with couldn’t carry on.
And when everything my job, my home all my dreams were stripped away, I knew I had to change.
Now, in my 40s, self-care and self-love have become central to my witchcraft practice and a big reason why my illnesses are more stable. It is so important to be kind to myself and treat myself like I would my best friends.
I would never let them not eat to nourish their bodies, or date someone who hurt them, and if I thought they relied on alcohol I would want to know why. It goes deeper than that though, I would want them to set healthy boundaries and be happy.
Now, my mental health has never been great, living with generalised anxiety disorder and chronic depression is hard. But mindfulness and being present have literally saved my life, I wake up happy now and I go to sleep thankful.
Self-love is not just about how we feel about an extra tummy roll or accepting and loving a painful and sometimes broken body. It is part of it, but I am not talking about toxic positivity, I still get angry and yes I still get upset at those extra tummy rolls.
For me, self-love is about being present and mindful so I catch those negative thoughts early and bringing in daily things that mean I appreciate who I am and not get lost in negative self-talk. So here are some tips to help you to the same.
- Mindfulness – Too many people give up on this too soon, or assume it is therapy talk and don’t even try. But there is a reason this blog is named this; mindfulness literally saved my life. Struggles with my mental health had always come from listening to the negative thoughts in my head. I would assume it was right, yes that friend hates me, yes, I am ugly and fat yes. The moment I learned they were made up and I didn’t have to listen? I never dove into a subject faster in my life and though it is a constant thing to work on, it has been so worth it. Focus on the moment, and let any thoughts pass by without getting caught up.
- Skincare – finding the skincare that was right for me and taking two evenings a week to do it has made such a difference. It is time I treat myself to ten minutes of mindful self-care and appreciate my skin and how soft and clear it is. Looking after ourselves is often the first thing to go when depression hits and is a big warning I am in a depression flare for me personally. So, prioritising it twice a week has made such a big difference, I find doing the opposite of what depression wants me to do is the key for me.
- Hobbies – I don’t have a lot of energy, and I am often in pain, however the thought of doing nothing but watch TV and resting all the time would soon leave me in a depression hole. So, I started this blog and my YouTube channel, now I am learning to sew, I love to read and do puzzles on my tablet. Keeping my brain active has been a big game changer for me because when it is busy learning things, it is not whispering sweet negative thoughts in my ear.
- Time to rest – I go to bed early, if I could, I would be in bed by 7 but I am usually there by 8pm watching TV on my tablet and resting. I also rest between jobs, during the day and stop everything regularly to have a cup of tea and chat to mom. Rest is so important, especially for those of us with chronic illnesses. So, stop staying up late, and stop doing your jobs all together, prioritise rest and stop regularly to appreciate your garden with a hot drink, or whatever you can.
- Gratitude – This was also a big change for me, I went from hating everything and pushing people away to appreciating everything I had. This also stopped my shopping addiction because instead of wasting money always wanting this or that to make me happy, I was grateful for what I had. It changed everything and is a big part of why I stopped trying to be like other people and instead loved who I was and was grateful for what was around me. At night I list things that I am grateful for in my head, and when I sit for a cuppa during the day I look around and think of things I am thankful for. This can be hard sometimes, but I can always find a handful of things that bring me gratitude.
- Water and food – Yes, drink water, get yourself a water bottle and get drinking!! Eat healthy food, start cooking and feeding your body with things that fill you up and nourish you. Once I did, my skin cleared, my hair is nicer, and I feel better! Sometimes self-love is the small things, and helping your body look after you is such a small but important step.
- Exercise – This is me talking to you Beverley… DO SOME EXERCISE!! I used to practice yoga every day, but then I was told yoga is not good when you have EDS as it is designed to stretch your body which mine is too good at. This left me not knowing what to do and so I started collecting accessible exercise routines on my YouTube. Getting into a good routine with doing them has been hard though…what can I say I am a work in progress. But let’s try and do something even if it is going for a little walk or dancing to music to move our bodies…I will try.
- Give yourself a break – See that last one? In the past I would have been so hard on myself it was part of my new year plan and yet still don’t have a regular exercise routine. I am frustrated and a little disappointed, however I am also going to give myself a little grace. I am a human trying my best and working hard to achieve my goals, but I will never achieve them all. So, though I will keep reaching for them, I am not useless or any of the other things my brain might say, and nor are you. If you have not achieved your goals don’t be so hard on yourself, step back look at your routines and see what needs to change so that goal has room and space to happen.
I really hope valentines is a time when you can start a love affair with yourself and make being positive and kind to yourself a priority. These are just some self-love tips, but let me know the things you do, or want to do to love yourself today. Start small and just one or two ideas adding more when they become your routine and try not to be so hard on yourself if your plans don’t work out.
Thank you xx