How to Practice Self-Love

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smiling woman looks at reflection in the mirror with her hands around her face

It seems like anytime you scroll through social media or listen to a podcast, you see and hear people talking about the importance of loving yourself. While some of us may believe that we love ourselves, our actions often reflect differently. A lot of the time we feel selfish for putting our own needs before others, but that is far from the truth. Practice self-love is necessary for everyone and below are tips you can follow to change your mindset.

What Does it Mean to Love Yourself?

Although each person has their own unique way of being kind to themselves, the meaning behind self-love remains the same: accepting yourself fully, treating yourself with kindness and respect, and nurturing your growth and well-being.

Loving yourself includes your overall thoughts and feelings about yourself. If you struggle with positive thinking, stop yourself anytime your mind starts racing with negative thoughts and ask yourself if this is how you would speak to a close loved one. The answer is most likely not. Before you let harmful thought patterns get the best of you, be mindful and reframe your thinking. For example, if you think, “Nobody wants me. I’ll be alone forever,” reframe this to something kinder such as, “I have family and friends who love me and I’m more than enough.”

Of course, staying positive all the time is impossible. There will be moments where you become disappointed or angry with yourself, just as you would with your son or daughter who forgot to do their chores or cheated on a test. However, at the end of the day, prioritize self-love and remind yourself that these difficult moments are only temporary and should not define your future or outlook on life.

Practicing self-love is also about putting yourself first while still having enough energy left over to be able to love and care for other people. It’s about having respect, kindness, compassion, and acceptance for oneself while being dedicated to continued growth and development.

Why is Practicing Self-Love Important?

When you are faced with any sort of adversity, whether it be dealing with trauma or an embarrassing situation, self-love can help you overcome those challenges. Self-love affirms who you are and gives you the confidence to face hard times. People who experienced trauma or abuse during their childhood and never learned how to love themselves are typically highly critical of themselves and often self-sabotage. They put other people’s needs first and neglect their own feelings.

Holding yourself in high regard is a positive trait. You have the power to say “no” if something crosses a boundary or you just don’t have the time to help someone. If you are always overperforming or dropping everything to please others, then you will likely become burnt out. Say yes to what feels right for you.

When you truly love yourself, it can lead to healthier choices in your daily life and set you up for success. Understanding how to practice self-love can be beneficial to your mental, physical, and spiritual health in many ways. These benefits include:

What Are Ways to Love Yourself?

  1. Set Boundaries – Setting healthy boundaries allows others to know what you are and are not okay with. This can be awkward or challenging to utilize at first. But the goal is that people will adjust their behavior to meet your needs. If people continually cross your boundaries, then it is a good indicator that they are not someone who has respect for you and someone you might not need in your life. Although difficult at times, setting boundaries and maintaining those boundaries reinforces your own self-respect, even if it means having to let people go.
  2. Create a Self-Love Ritual – Oftentimes, when life becomes too stressful or busy, we neglect to do the things that recharge us because we are afraid to be seen as selfish. However, this type of thinking leads to burnout and a decrease in your mental health stability. By doing acts of self-care consistently, you prioritize your own well-being and boost your mental health. Examples of self-care can include exercising, getting a massage, taking a bubble bath, going to therapy, etc. Each person needs to find what works best for them. Some self-care tasks should be done daily, and some may be more occasional. Additionally, building a self-care space can give you a designated area in your home to unwind after a long day.
  3. Reframe Negative Thinking – We are often our toughest critics, and in order to get to a place of self-love, we need to be kinder to ourselves. As mentioned, talk to yourself as you would a friend. To practice positive self-talk, it is imperative to first understand negative thinking. If you find yourself dwelling on troubling thoughts like “I’m not good enough” or “Nobody likes me,” then you likely will convince yourself that those things are true. Luckily, it is possible to reframe your mindset, but it does not happen overnight. Sometimes, it can start by placing a sticky note in the bathroom mirror that you read each morning with uplifting words and statements such as “I am confident” or “I am in control.” When you say such positive affirmations out loud while looking at yourself, you are more likely to begin believing these phrases.
  4. Accept Your Mistakes – When you make a mistake, do not beat yourself up or punish yourself. Although this may be challenging to do, it is one of the most important self-love tips. Instead of ruminating on your shortcomings, learn from your mistakes and move on. Focus on your current achievements and wins, no matter how big or small. Remind yourself that mistakes are completely normal and a necessary part of making progress.
  5. Take Care of Your Body Addiction and mental health expert, Tessa Candiotti LCSW, shares you can pamper yourself by getting a massage or manicure. Sometimes making your body feel good can make you feel better about your body and any insecurities you may be experiencing.
  6. Surround Yourself with Empowering, Positive Friends If you say to one of your friends, “I’m feeling worthless,” or “I feel super needy in my relationship,” they should be able to help you debunk any negative beliefs you have about yourself. On the other hand, if your concerns are valid, they should be able to offer encouraging support and healthy feedback.

Self-love is not a destination, but rather a journey. When you are gentler on yourself and prioritize your own well-being, your relationship with yourself and your loved ones begins to flourish. If practicing self-love is difficult for you and you find your mental health is deteriorating, reach out to a therapist for extra support.

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