Why self-love is important
Self-love, self-care, self-compassion. It may sound selfish and indulgent. But it’s absolutely essential to your mental health and well-being. And it doesn’t mean you have to always prioritize your needs over everyone else’s. If anything, having a good relationship with yourself is a selfless act. Because how you treat others is often a reflection of how you treat yourself.
What are the benefits of self-love?
Developing a good relationship with yourself is vital for good mental well-being. Being kind to ourselves lowers anxiety and stress, and helps build self-esteem and resilience. Furthermore, if you don’t develop a good relationship with yourself, you may fall into bad habits like people-pleasing and perfectionism – and you may be more likely to tolerate abuse or mistreatment.
Being in tune with your values makes it easier to live a life that’s authentically you. Self-love gives us the courage to be assertive, make decisions and set boundaries in our lives. Here are some of the benefits of self-love:
- Increased self-esteem. Self-love is bound up with self esteem– which is vital for good mental health. Self-esteem is all about your overall sense of self-worth. It’s about how much you like or appreciate all the little things that make you unique. We can all be critical of ourselves from time to time. But if you have low self-esteem it can weigh you down and have a detrimental impact on your mental health.
- Lower anxiety. Studies suggest that a healthy sense of self-esteem may act as a buffer to anxiety. That’s because when our self-esteem is higher, we tend to release less of the stress hormone cortisol into our bloodstream.
- Lower stress. Modern life is stressful. But it’s important to learn to manage it. Reducing stress in your life is a great way to show yourself compassion.
- Avoid burnout. Are you a people-pleaser? Or do you have a demanding job or family life? If you’re always saying ‘yes’ to things, you risk becoming overwhelmed and burning out. Learning to prioritize yourself and your own needs will help you cope with the demands on your time – and to help other people. It’s like the familiar flight safety instruction to put your own oxygen mask on first.
- Build resilience. If you love yourself, it’s easier to bounce back from hardships. Studies suggest that when our self-esteem is higher, emotional wounds such as rejection and failure feel less painful.
- Find your values and purpose. How well do you know yourself? Between societal pressures and our own projections of how we should be, it’s easy to lose sight of who we truly are. And how can we ever show ourselves real love and compassion if we don’t know what makes us tick? That’s why, if you want to treat yourself well, it’s important to take time to tap into you. Invest time getting to know your interests to practice self-love.
- Have better relationships with others. The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for the relationships you have with other people. Because you can only connect with others as deeply as you can connect with yourself.
- Be more assertive. If we love ourselves, we tend to be more assertive and confident in our decision making. We’re more likely to stand up for ourselves. And we’re less likely to tolerate abuse or mistreatment because we know we deserve to be treated better.
- Set boundaries. We’re less prone to people-pleasing and find it easier to express our needs. And say ‘No’.
- Achieve your goals. A healthy sense of self-love and self-esteem allows you to recognize your strengths and learn from your mistakes.
How to cultivate self-love:
5 simple self-love tips
Social media may be full of inspirational quotations about loving yourself. However, practicing self-love is often easier said than done. Here are a few simple and practical ways to show yourself some love:
- Get a good night’s sleep. Good sleep is the foundation of so much of our physical and mental health. Don’t be too busy to invest in your sleep and really start looking after yourself.
- Exercise and Eat Well . Moving around more is a great way to show yourself some love by looking after both your physical and mental health. Healthy eating is also an act of love. We all know what we should do: reduce meat, sugar, carbs, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods in our diet; eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and drink more water. Your body will thank you.
- Set boundaries.Many of us have trouble setting boundaries. It may be down to a need for people-pleasing, a fear of being assertive or unhelpful role models growing up. Whatever the reason, a lack of boundaries can wreak havoc with our mental well-being. Learning to say ‘No’ helps us preserve our time and energy for the things that matter most. Remember your time is precious so it’s not selfish to prioritize yourself.
- Do something you love.What do you really enjoy doing? Treat yourself by making time for an activity you love. Or consider mastering a new skill. It makes us feel competent, confident and in control.
Stop comparing yourself to others. You are perfectly and uniquely made. Comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to put you at risk of feeling inferior! Don’t feel you have to ‘live up’ to other people – whether idealized social media images or your own friends. Everyone is on their own path, and no one really knows what struggles other people have. Identify your own values and goals – and focus on those. Watch the video below on How To Be True To Yourself.