Practicing Self-Love to Improve Your Overall Wellbeing

Inspiration, Lifestyle

xo,
Michelle

On occasion, there are days when enjoying life can be a real struggle.

Wouldn’t it be great if no matter what came your way you were prepared and well equipped to face it?

Well, there is most certainly a way to do this and it has to do with giving yourself the time and attention you deserve. When you tend to your needs on a regular basis you put yourself in a better position to cope with the uncertainty of life, the ebbs and flows, and your responsibility of living life.  You become the source for satisfying your own needs rather than placing that responsibility on others.

It’s been my mission this year, to be intentional about caring for myself and mastering the art of “making love to myself”, courtesy of Leanna Tankersley’s book, Begin Again. After experiencing such a rough last year, I searched for resources to help me shift gears. Leanna’s book is one I often reach for. If you haven’t picked up a copy, I suggest you do. In it, she reveals the importance of loving yourself by giving grace and receiving rest. I highly recommend it.

Book cover of Leanna Tankersley's book Begin Again

I believe loving who you are and living in who you are, are key components to being good to yourself. But we don’t often default to this sort of thinking. As a matter of fact, if you are like me, you put others’ needs above your own. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to take inventory and make note of what’s missing in your own toolbox. Don’t worry, I’m preaching to myself here.

I’ve come to the understanding that when we change our perspective and see that caring for ourselves makes us healthy and whole, not selfish and self-centered, then we are in a better position and more capable of loving and caring for others. Look at it as though you are showing up for yourself, just as you would for a friend in need.

Take a moment and think about what loving yourself looks like? Are there things you can do right now to begin feeling better about who you are? Have you considered scheduling “love days”? Below are great suggestions to get you in the habit of loving on yourself to foster a healthy and whole you.

What is Self-Love?

To know how to care for yourself, you first need to understand what it is.

Self-care or self-love is appreciating who you are; demonstrating actions that promote and develop your physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing. How you show up for yourself may look different for others but the underlying purpose is the same for everyone. You are cementing in your mind that you deserve love and to be cared for, that you are just as deserving of happiness and joy as the next person.

As airline protocol clearly states, “place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

You are no good to others if you haven’t taken the time to nurture your needs first. As you habitually do this and discover what needs you would like met, you are learning who you are and what makes you function. Being the source for satisfying your own needs is important. It means you look inward to be fulfilled instead of relying on others to fill that role. Who better to know how to celebrate you than YOU?

Seeking satisfaction or validation outside of yourself can be unhealthy and risky. Big NO NO! I’ve made this mistake many times. The truth is, people fall short. The expectations we have of others to meet our needs are unrealistic and unfair. It’s also impossible. You run the risk of being disappointed. Instead, discovering how you can show up for yourself is beneficial to your mental, emotional and physical health. Knowing your value and that you deserve to be cared for is also important. If you don’t love and respect yourself, how can you expect others to love and respect you? It first starts with you.

Lastly, believing that you are worthy of a beautiful life is the starting point to actually doing the things that can bring about such a life. You ARE phenomenal. You ARE intelligent. You ARE beautiful. You ARE successful. You ARE blessed. You ARE loved, lovable and loving. And you CAN do amazing and wonderful things.

So for today’s post, I want to share with you a number of habits, routines, and activities I have instituted in my own life and hope it will help you in caring for yourself and building your confidence to live a life you love.

Speak Life

The words you speak sometimes flow from the mouth carelessly and thoughtlessly. Not giving it a second thought, you believe they are just empty words that have no real meaning behind them. However, having experienced the impact of such words, it’s clear this is far from the truth.  Words have power. They set things in motion. They reveal what’s truly in our hearts.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to avoid any consequences of wrongful words spoken. I want good fruit, not the bad fruit that can come from hurtful and hateful words I am capable of speaking. Choosing my words wisely will go a long way. This requires intentionality; to begin seeing things from a positive perspective and shifting your language to match it. You must be quick to listen and slow to speak, using your words to declare life, encouragement, hope, and health in the lives of others and yourself. Go ahead and offer up compliments whenever you can. Don’t forget to include yourself in that.

A friend of mine once told me that whatever I speak, if it isn’t meant to bless me or the people around me then it’s not meant to be spoken. And what she meant is that it should help not harm. It should encourage life, not death. And as it relates to you, it’s shifting your language to encourage yourself daily. Instead of looking at the glass half empty, try looking at it half full.

A positive perspective changes everything. Work towards changing your language about each hard situation you find yourself in. See the good in it. It’s there, trust me. You just have to look closely.

If this isn’t normal practice for you, don’t worry, it will become second nature the more you indulge yourself.

Know Pain and Joy Live Together

Believe it or not but pain is necessary. It’s a part of life. It’s also an indication that there is something wrong that needs your attention. And in the case of emotional pain, probably the deepest pain you can experience, it causes you to take a closer look at yourself to discover the root.

Pain, discomfort, hurt – it’s all necessary. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace the brokenness. It’s important to accept the pain right where you are. It has a purpose.

Feel it, don’t suppress it. Acknowledge it, don’t hide from it. Accept it and know that it is real but you are going to be ok. Release it by choosing to move on from it so that you open the door for joy to enter.

I want to make something clear. It’s the acceptance of the pain that you must agree with. When you accept it you begin to open the door to real healing. And that’s when you give permission for joy to enter – when you stop fighting what is and start embracing what can be.

Some of my worst moments in life birthed the brightest and best of me. They challenged me to look inward and face my insecurities. In those moments I traded my brokenness for God’s peace. And when you invite God’s peace in, you clear a path to experience real joy.

Think of diamonds for a minute. These exquisite and rare gems. Before they become treasured jewels, they undergo intense heat and pressure from the earth’s core to emerge as the world’s most beautiful gemstone. But here’s the keeper, dubbed the hardest substance on earth, they are strong enough to go through the process. That’s you and I.

We ARE strong enough. We are able to move through our pain with God’s strength because He has built us to withstand the trials we face with His help. And as we overcome, there is beauty waiting for us on the other side.

Pain and joy. They live together. They need each other. There is no joy without pain and no pain without joy. When you accept this paradox there’s no tension in your spirit. It just is and you rest with the understanding that there is no need to fight it, only to embrace it and move through it.

Adopt Healthy Habits

The easiest way to care for yourself is by adopting healthy habits. These habits strengthen who you are. They build character and confidence. When done on a consistent basis, they become rituals that feed your inner core.

An Instagram friend shared that her ability to move through her challenges and celebrate life was first due to God, then because of her habits. She put things and activities in place that create no room for low self-esteem or lack of confidence. They were things that built her up, not tore her down.

Here are some habits that you can begin implementing today to show yourself some love and build a better and stronger you.

Eat the Right Foods

How often do you include fruits and veggies into your daily consumption? Is Rene Barker of This Savory Vegan your go-to for recipes or are you opting for fast food every night?

We all know that eating a balanced diet is important. It’s the fuel that keeps our hearts pumping. Eating the right amount of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fats, proteins, and starches gets the body to function properly. Even how you prepare your food should be considered. Limit fried or processed foods.

Studies show that eating a balanced diet has a number of health benefits. Upping your intake of fruits and veggies can reduce the risk of some cancers or prevent it altogether. You can strengthen your bones and teeth, reducing tooth decay and osteoporosis. There is the ability to improve your mood and energy levels by avoiding sugary foods and drinks which can build you up only to cause you to crash and burn later. Healthy options also aid in memory and brain health; increasing blood flow to the brain. Eating healthy also encourages weight loss. Who doesn’t feel good when the scale is down a few pounds? I know I do!

Whenever possible, which should be often, reach for healthier options. Your body will thank you and you will feel good knowing that you are giving your body what it needs to be fitter, stronger, and healthier. I call that self-love.

Get Active

Finding a healthy outlet like running or swimming is great for improving your physical condition but also for your mental and emotional health.

Getting out there and getting active helps you to have a positive outlook on your life and improves your self-esteem. There’s no secret that exercise increases your confidence. As you devote time to toning your physique you are also strengthening your skills and abilities. As you do this you gain a sense of pride with every goal you set and reach.

If physical activity sounds daunting, try doing it with a friend to boost your motivation. Plan ahead and set a day and time you will commit to doing whichever activity you find interesting.

I was a track & field athlete in my teens and the strength I gained from it was amazing. I was able to fight off colds more quickly, aches and pains mostly came from training and not daily living. And when I was in a motorbike accident, I was able to bounce back faster. Even my ability to tuck and roll as my body flew from my bike was all due to my physical condition.

I don’t think I have to sell you on the benefits of being active. But starting is usually where it all ends for people. You have to decide to commit to the process. Starting today doesn’t mean success tomorrow. It’s an ongoing process and the longer you stick with it the more you gain from it. Improved self-esteem and self-confidence are a part of the package.

Journal Your Thoughts

“Dear Diary, today I went with my girlfriends and we had a blast.” If you opted for journaling when you were younger, this is probably how you started your journal entries; recording your daily activities. Or if you were the secretive type you probably locked it away from prying eyes in fear that your secrets would be revealed (whispering: under the mattress is a keeper). Whichever way you approached journaling, it brought some sort of satisfaction. It was an opportunity to dump your thoughts either for the sake of recalling information or self-expression.

In my post, How to Reset, Refocus and Renew Your Life this Year, I point out how journaling is such a beautiful tool for reflection. I use it almost daily to release my mind from all the thoughts running around in my head. The emotions and feelings I have, journaling allows me the opportunity to express them safely without fear of being judged.

When journaling, there’s understanding that comes after reflecting on what you’ve written. It calls you to acknowledge your thought patterns and seek understanding. Just the simple exercise of writing a gratitude list, if nothing more, is beneficial. Don’t overthink it and put added pressure on yourself to write some lengthy journal entry. It can be as simple as a one-liner to start. The more you commit to it, the easier it will become. The thoughts will flow. The writing will happen.

Spend Time with God

Just as with journaling, time spent with God brings amazing revelation and clarity. He shines a light on the areas of your life that you are struggling with or that have been in your blind spot. When I spend time with Him, the answers I receive are on another level and far greater than anything I could have put together on my own. As you come to Him for rest, wisdom, provision – whatever it is that you are in need of – He delivers and you walk away full and ready to face whatever comes your way.

Where you are anxious, He gives you peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

When you are stressed and “carry heavy burdens”, He gives you rest (Mathew 11:28).

When you are weak, He strengthens you (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

When you are afraid, alone and in need of love, He comforts you (Isaiah 66:13).

When you find yourself perplexed, He equips you with wisdom (Proverbs 2:6).

During an interview with Dan Rather, Mother Theresa was asked about her prayer life. Dan asked her, “What do you say to God when you pray?” “Nothing,” replied Mother Theresa. “I just listen”. Dan was probably puzzled after that answer. So he asked, “what does God say to you?” “Nothing,” replied Mother Theresa. “He just listens.”

To be renewed and refreshed by God is most certainly self-love and the best type of love to give yourself. There are so many resources you can use to make this a part of your daily routine. I often reach for the Abide app on my phone for quiet bible meditation when anxiety is rearing its ugly head.

There are moments when spending time with God is simply being in His presence; inviting Him into your day and exchanging spirit for spirit; resting in the knowing that you are His.

Get Involved

Lending a helping hand and serving in your community can sometimes give you the boost you need to lift your spirits.

Firstly, it gets you to appreciate all that you are blessed with and helps you to see your life in a different light. Remember, changing your perspective. Sometimes it just takes a shift in your thinking to help you see all that is good in your world.

Secondly, when it is a cause you truly believe in, knowing that you are contributing to bringing about change is satisfaction in itself. God calls us to serve, but from the heart, not just for the sake of doing. Our hearts have to be in the right place to do this work. It’s not about performance and showing up to show out. No, it’s doing what matters because we believe it is the right thing to do.

For me, I devote my Sundays to my church, Christ Anglican Church Devonshire in Bermuda by serving as a Sunday School Teacher for our upper primary students. It brings me great joy to be able to entrust the knowledge of Christ to these precious little ones in hopes that they will not depart from these teachings, as Proverbs 22:6 says. As I give back, the only reward I receive is the satisfaction of knowing that each Sunday a number of children draw closer to God and grow in understanding of His love for them. And that’s good enough for me.

Use Your Hands

Getting out there and digging into any activity that allows you to be 100% hands-on brings a great sense of enjoyment and fulfillment. It’s almost as if it is an exercise for your hands. You are shifting gears by relaxing your mental muscles, freeing up cognitive processing, and trading it for manual labor. Although, labor isn’t the right word. It’s more like physical therapy. Emphasis on the word therapy.

As you devote time to activities that involve using your hands, you unconsciously take the pressure off your mind. After an hour or more of mindless activity, you are better able to think clearly. You’ll even find you come up with solutions to problems you may have been facing prior.

Engaging in activities that involve your hands reduces the likelihood of depression and anxiety. And because this type of activity produces immediate results, your efforts are rewarded, giving you a sense of accomplishment.

Pottery, painting, gardening, knitting, even cleaning; are all activities that have the potential to improve how you bounce back from low moments in life.

Follow Your Passion

Find the thing that lights your spirit on fire. It’s the thing that, no matter what is going on, will always put a smile on your face.

There is a sense of purpose when you follow your passion. It lowers stress levels and contributes to your happiness. It brings new meaning to life. Turn it into a career. That’s what I’ve done with my interior design business. It started out as a dream then quickly became an obsession until I made the decision to turn it into a career. And every day I set time aside to move it forward is me investing in myself. I’m telling myself that I am worth every bit of time and energy I put into growing my business. I never disappoint myself when I make that decision. It makes me feel alive.

If you haven’t found your passion yet, try developing skills that you can apply to your current career or that will enhance your already fabulous set of abilities. This sends self-confidence through the roof.

Give Yourself Grace

You’ve heard it before. You are not perfect. No one is! So don’t make the mistake of placing that amount of pressure on yourself. There will be mistakes you make. But how you respond makes all the difference.

Forgiving yourself is big in the self-love department. Don’t beat up on yourself when you miss the mark. Allow yourself the chance to make mistakes and be ok with it. There’s growth in that too. Don’t send yourself to the shame corner and then wonder why you are down in the dumps. Pick yourself up and tell yourself, “today wasn’t a great day”, or “that didn’t go so well”. And then when you regain your strength, when you are able to think clearly, when you are in better spirits, take another stab at it. I believe you’ll see different results.

God isn’t in the business of shaming you. He’s a forgiving God. A God of grace and mercy. I think we can give ourselves the same.

Find Your Tribe

Surround yourself with a solid group of wonderful people.

Having a great support team or community of friends is an essential part of living a meaningful life. I call them “my people”. You might call them something else. But whatever you call them, they are an integral part of having a healthy life.

They are usually people who understand you. They don’t judge where you are in life. And there’s no pressure to perform. They accept you as you are. And they meet you right where you are. You are encouraged and inspired to become a better you. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” We lean on each other to be uplifted and encouraged.

There’s learning and growing that happens in meaningful relationships. If you have this, then you’ve found your tribe.

This community of people, they are with you for the long haul and have no plans on deserting you in hard times. They share in your joys and your darkest moments. They don’t shy away at the sight of trouble and are willing to walk through it with you. It is the opportunity to be known.

This is exactly how God designed it. He calls us to live in relationship with one another – to serve one another. You may believe that you are quite fine living a life of solitude but this isn’t God’s plan for you. From the beginning, He created you to be in fellowship with others. His great plan involves a family of people. Together, you can rise above and face many obstacles; helping others along the way. When you decide to do life alone, you miss out on what positive and meaningful friendships can bring.  

Finding an awesome group of people who are willing to walk through life with you is an amazing gift. Nurture this! It will serve you well.

Put Yourself First

The me-first mentality is oftentimes seen as rude and selfish. You might even get a “how dare you” from someone. But not putting yourself first is hurting you. You are starving yourself of love.

Make every effort to check in to see how you are making out in this busy world. When you wake up in the morning, give yourself a status check and see how you are feeling. When the kids have you running on empty, take a time-out. Your cup needs to be full and overflowing before you can pour out into others’ lives.

Give Yourself Permission to Have Down Time

Busyness does not always equate to being productive. Yes, accomplishing things requires action but having great success requires taking a step back to think strategically, plan effectively and be able to focus on what’s necessary.

There’s no need to always be up and moving and doing. Sometimes the day or the hour calls for you to be still, to clear your mind of thoughts that cloud your judgment and assess how to move forward.

Say “NO”. When you sense that you are giving more of yourself than you have, it’s time to say “NO”.

Decide what you take on. Does it serve you? Will it overwhelm you? If you leave it, will it be the end of the world? That’s an easy one ay? For me, after I ask myself that question the answer is usually no. See, easy!

Delegate where necessary. You don’t have to do it all. Bring in your support team, your tribe and divide up tasks. Get the family to chip in and do their part. Right now, my daughters are learning how working as a team benefits all of us.

This is intentional living; slowing yourself down to take a wide-angle view on how to manage your life.

Schedule Love Days

Love Days. Just saying it makes me want to indulge myself in it. And I’m not talking dirty!

Love days are essentially taking time out for you. It’s about the whole experience of pampering yourself.

This is exactly what I do with clients in my interior design business – create an experience. What we do at The Bungalow Cottage is get on a deeper level with clients. We help you become aware of the things that bring you joy so you can experience an abundant life in the comfort of your home. It eases the pressure of whatever is bringing stress to your world. It naturally produces those feel-good endorphins and motivates you to experience inner peace in the midst of whatever life dishes out. Who doesn’t love time to themselves? Hand raised!

Try curling up in bed with a good book or find a cozy nook in your home. Head to the store and buy your favorite snacks. Eat them while watching an interesting movie from one of your favorite genres. Remember, this is once in a while. You still want to be eating healthy on a regular basis. Schedule a manicure and pedicure or even a spa massage. I love those! I head to Inlet Stream Beauty Salon and Day Spa in Bermuda to pamper myself monthly. If you love to cook, find a new recipe and get out those ingredients. Chef it up in the kitchen. In every instance, you are feeding your soul with things and activities that bring you joy and make you feel good about yourself.

The real challenge, however, is following through and encouraging yourself to make it a regular occurrence.

What’s one way you can get over this? Schedule it in your calendar. Don’t let other events or responsibilities take precedence over time that you need to be giving to yourself. Stick to it!

Just Be You

I think out of the entire list shared in this post, just accepting who you are is the BEST way to show self-love.

You are unique and an individual. You were made to be who you are, not some other version that some person has told you to be. When you look at yourself and think that you have to change because of someone else’s thoughts of you then you are devaluing all of who God made you to be.

Yes, there are areas we all need to improve in. Yes, there is refining that is sometimes necessary. But you take it all to God and you let Him show you and lead you to that change. Do not create conflict within yourself to become someone’s idea of who they think you are.

Every day I let my daughters know they are beautiful. And I tell them to shine brightly because I don’t ever what the light inside of them to be dimmed. They were made perfect as they are no matter how wild and energetic they may seem and how lacking I am in the energy department.

God makes no mistakes.

Celebrate Yourself

It’s time to celebrate yourself, honey.

This is something that doesn’t happen often. But it is something that should be exercised regularly.

Give yourself a pat on the back. Tell yourself, “Good Job!” Treat yourself to a “Self-Love Day” as I mentioned above. You work hard. I work hard. Why can’t we celebrate ourselves? Aren’t we worthy of it? We sure are! We deserve it. We are awesome!

Don’t save celebrations for the big accomplishments. The little wins are important too. You’ll find that offering up celebratory drinks for yourself and sitting down for manicures and pedicures will change how you feel about yourself.

Now, let’s recap!

Self-love is vital to our wellbeing and makes it possible to face life and all its challenges with a positive perspective. There are many ways you can shower yourself with love such as changing your language (speaking positively), understanding the paradox of living with pain and joy and not wrestling with trying to hide from it, instituting healthy habits into your daily routine that will serve you in the long run, forgiving yourself often (mistakes are a part of life), surrounding yourself with a great group of people who will uplift you and encourage you to be your best self, putting yourself first and nurturing your needs before you do it for others, and of course, celebrating yourself and all that you do even the little wins.

Try to incorporate at the very least 3 to 4 suggestions above into your life and take notice of the difference in how you see yourself and how you approach life. Commit to doing these things for one month. If you don’t see any noticeable changes you are free to quit. But I don’t think you will. What do you have to lose? If anything, you would have gained so much more.

I’m sure there are many other ways we can express love to ourselves. Let me know in the comments if you have tried any of the above suggestions and if they’ve improved your outlook on life. If you have some of your own, I’d love to hear.

Every day is a chance for us to “experience beautiful living together; inside and out”. Make today count!

Until next time…

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Committed to making life beautiful, including a home that supports the life you want while having fun. As a designer, educator, wife and mother of two beautiful girls (my wildflowers, Amara and Elan) and all around island girl, I'm determined to find real purpose in living a Christ-centered life.  LEARN MORE 

Owner + Principal Designer

Hey I'm Michelle

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