Over the recent years, months and days, I have struggled with my own confidence and I’ve seen myself suffer from anxiety melt-downs. Every time it happens, I feel like I have no control over my feelings and I ultimately begin to think less of myself.
But today, as many celebrate Valentines Day, I thought it would be a good moment to go back-to-basics and share some thoughts to focus on ways we can learn to love ourselves. Loving ourselves can be a seriously complicated relationship – but by taking a step back, it can actually be a relatively simple process. Such ways don’t need to be big or clever, they can be as simple as reading your favourite book, cooking your favourite dinner, singing along to your favourite songs – and taking a moment to help someone.
One key message I’ve learnt from reading various articles and from looking at my own personal experiences is, to love yourself more actually means looking beyond oneself. I truly believe by focusing efforts on others, we can build our self-love confidence. The feeling of seeing others happy as a result of our actions can be one of the most gratifying experiences we can ever go through.
By focussing our efforts on having compassion for others as a foundation, there are various ways we can build upon this which can help us to learn to love ourselves more – here are a few which I like to focus on:
Don’t be so hard on yourself
Easier said than done, right? From worrying about how others may see you, to thinking about how your jeans may be getting a bit too tight – the possibilities of self-criticising and over-analysing are endless. Some things may go wrong each day and we may feel down as a result, but we always need to focus on the positives. When I’m walking somewhere, I tend to think about how my day is going. Even if it has been horrendous and things keep going wrong – no matter how big or small, I try to think of at least two things which have been good. Once I start thinking, I build them up and realise how awesome things actually are. By seeing things in a more positive outlook and taking a step back, it can do wonders. Try it for yourself.
Eat well and be active
It’s true what they say about exercise – it makes us feel good. Set yourself targets of doing something active each week. Start of slow and as time goes on, build upon it. Choose a day to go swimming, or an evening to go for a run. Drag yourself to that fitness class you’ve been planning to go to for months. Just do it. The feeling of accomplishment after makes all the effort and doubting seem like nothing.
Eat well and aim to get your fair share of fruit and vegetables into your diet each day. Yes, the food may not be as exciting as a pizza or Chinese, but your body will reap up the benefits of fresh eating. By eating well and being active, these simple solutions will ignite you to do it again and more often, which in turn will make you feel not only good – but amazing.
Do what you love
I am an ideas person by nature. But finding the motivation to get up and do them, can often be quite a challenging process. It is all too easy to get ourselves stuck in a rut. If you are anything like me, you may come home from work and feel so tired you just want to relax on the sofa with Netflix. And that is fine to do – brilliant in fact. But one thing I’m trying to learn is – everything in moderation.
Sometimes by doing something like crashing on the couch, we can loose motivation to do even the simplest of tasks like washing the dishes – let alone doing something we seriously love and enjoy. Make time for yourself to do what you love. If you love writing, write. If you love reading, read. If you love going for a walk, go. Do what you love.
There are so many travel quotes out there about how travelling expanding our minds and how it gives us priceless experiences – and they are true. It would be incredible to hop on a plane and fly across the world to a distant and tranquil beach, with turquoise water and fresh coconuts – but in reality, we don’t actually need to go that far to find adventure. Exploring the local neighbourhood can bring about a certain level of adventure right on your doorstep.
Stretch yourself a bit further afield. Visiting a country you have never been to can be a bit daunting, but so worth it. In fact, you can even find adventure in a place you’ve travelled to lots of times before. Travelling and exploring places near and far can open our minds to new possibilities and with each experience, we can learn something new about ourselves – some things may even surprise you!
Be weird. Be curious. Be excited. Be you. I love the moments when I loose all my inhibitions with my nearest and dearest. Yes, being our ‘true’ selves can be scary, but who else are you going to be? I think the people who are the truest to themselves are the most respected. There has been countless times we’ve gone to a party and an hour before, I begin to get really nervous and anxious. Why? In reality, I don’t actually know. Perhaps it’s a feeling of wanting to be accepted? Thinking I may not fit in and stand out like a sore thumb? But I more often than not, take those thoughts and scrunch them up into a corner of my mind. I don’t have time for them and I don’t want such negative thoughts to embrace my time and feelings. You’re the one in control – so be you, besides “everyone else is taken”.
Talk to others
Ever since I was younger, I’ve learnt to bottle up times when I’ve felt anxious or worried, which has led to me putting up barriers to a lot of people. It’s not a good thing. In time, I’ve learnt to share things that have been on my mind with my family and friends. It feels amazing to get things off my chest and to confine in those who I trust and love. If you’re having any problems or issues that you need to talk to somebody about – see which friend or family member can listen and help you. If you know this may not help, talk to somebody else. Seeing and hearing things from somebody else’s perspective is extremely valuable and it can help us see things from a different angle, which we may have been blinded to otherwise.
Go on a social media detox. It’s incredible how by not logging onto Facebook for a day, how much actually see and experience things. I’ve made it a rule for myself not to check any social media an hour before I go to sleep – it helps me relax and to close down my day. We all know, social media is a very powerful tool and it can do incredible things, but it can lead to procrastination and restlessness. The whole nature of social media has shifted and it seems to be a place for promoting all the amazing things in our lives – which in one respect is great, we need more positivity in our lives. But on the other hand, it can make us feel pretty rubbish about ourselves when we may already feel a bit vulnerable in the first place. Use it in moderation and challenge yourself to spend less time on social media, and instead do all the things you wish you can do – i.e. that fitness class, baking a cake, playing your favourite game.
Think beyond yourself
In December I volunteered at a local homeless charity for a day. The experience was challenging and it helped to open my eyes to a problem which can’t be hidden. I saw things in a way I had never seen and it fuelled me with a desire to help others. Throughout the entire day, I was constantly thinking of how I could help those in need. How could I make a difference to their lives? These questions still spin around in my mind and I do believe there are opportunities for me to do so. By thinking beyond ourselves, we are not only opening our minds but we become socially responsible. Be compassionate to others and try to do something to help – no matter how big or small, it means something.
Learning to love ourselves is a constant work in progress and it’s something we need to challenge ourselves to do on a daily basis as it can often be overlooked. Start simple and continue to build on it each and every day. Switch on your favourite song – sing it at the top of your lungs. Dance like nobody is watching. Run like you’ve never run before. Laugh until you cry. Binge on your favourite TV show. Eat all the cookies. Enjoy and love every moment.
We are all so unique and we can not only inspire ourselves, we can inspire others. Find the good in each day, embrace every challenge and learn to listen to yourself.