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Are you showing yourself enough love?

Rachel Cruickshank, wellness writer, speaks to us about self-love...

by Psychologies

Imagine a friend coming to us, telling us they are not feeling great, that they feel low in energy and low in mood. How would we respond? We would tell them to rest, take them out to brighten their spirits, give them words of encouragement. How often do we respond in the same way when we are feeling lacklustre?

How many times do we respond in the same way when we’re looking at ourselves? We have those days where we feel lost, we don’t feel ourselves, we’re not sure of where we’re going or what we’re doing. This is normal, this is natural.

We live in a world full of pressure and comparison, where it seems someone is always ahead of us, someone is where we feel we need to be. Rather than push ourselves more and wear ourselves down we need to stop and take stock. There is so much going on in our lives that matters to us but if we don’t look after our minds and our bodies then we won’t be capable to deal with anything at all. Feeling well and happy in your mind can turn your life around so focus on the good vibes rather than setting yourself unrealistic targets.

There is never going to be a one size fits all solution and wellness comes in all shapes and sizes. In order to look after your mind and mood you need to look after your body as well. This is never going to happen overnight; it takes time and effort but if you’ve heard the phrase ‘the most important person you will ever work on is yourself’ then this could not be closer to the truth. The question is where to start.

Firstly, stop comparing yourself to others. This means stop trawling Instagram wondering why your tan doesn’t last all year round or why did you didn’t have a green juice this morning. We are all on different journeys, making decisions at different parts of our lives and all trying to get somewhere different. Feel good about your own personal accomplishments, that might be getting fresh air for 20 minutes at lunch time or managing to see a friend for a coffee. Remember that every single person has their own struggle and whilst you see the rosy tinted view, focusing on yourself and your own happiness and spreading this amongst your friends and colleagues will be so much more beneficial.

Work out what is important to you. Make a list. Taking time for yourself is so very important when it comes to self-love. This doesn’t need to be something “healthy” and it doesn’t need to be something that can be put onto social media. Detaching yourself from our busy lives and doing one thing you love regularly will have so many positive effects. If you’re not sure what it is that you love then go out and try something new, meet new people – from sewing to playing the ukelele you are never too old to learn something new and give yourself that well deserved time out.

When it does come to exercise, set yourself goals that can actually be achieved. These “non- negotiables” that are realistic will help you gain a greater sense of reward and accomplishments. Rather than saying to yourself ‘I’m going to go to the gym at 6am every day this week’ but not manage it after day two because you’re shattered, set yourself a target that you will enjoy and can be maintained.

For me, this is five minutes meditation every day and going to the gym twice a week. This will gradually increase over time as you gain confidence and start to grow in yourself, but start slow and notice how well you’re doing rather than competing against yourself and losing.

When it comes to food and nutrition, focus on being the healthiest you which will in turn become the happiest you. Set targets that are around being healthy, like incorporating more herbal teas into your diet instead of the fifth coffee or reaching at least four portions of vegetables a day. Whatever it might be, and again this will be individual, focus on helping your body be the best it can be and being healthy in food is a huge start.

Whilst many of us want to lose weight, and that is okay, weight is focused on because it is such a visual aspect. For example, try to look at reducing sugar because you know the effect that can have on hormones, rather than how many kilograms it might help you lose. Weight loss might be a side effect but I believe the body is so powerful if we give it the right tools, so focus on health and you might find that lots of other aspects fall into place.

If you have no idea where to start, seek professional nutritional help. I would personally recommend seeing a naturopathic nutritionist who will look at the body as a whole and work with you and your goals to get the best result.

Finally, slow down and take time to take stock, reflect and meditate. The powers of meditation really are humungous. Stop feeling like you need to be somewhere and need to be doing something and start saying yes to yourself. Taking time to meditate has been shown to have such a huge benefit to our nervous system, meaning not only are we more present but often we end up putting life into proportion a little. We might realise what really matters or that a problem we’ve been stressing over isn’t so unachievable.

Start small, like I said for me it’s just five minutes a day, but gradually that five minutes will become 10, and then 10 minutes will become 20 and before you know it, you’ll be on cloud nine. Well, maybe not quite because it can be difficult to calm your mind at first but little and often is the best place to start and soon it will become a routine that is a new necessity for you.

So, switch off social media, find a quiet space, close your eyes and the rest will be history. If you have no idea where to start, the Headspace app did wonders for me and I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to get on board with meditation.

Read more about wellness in our dedicated section. 

Photograph: iStock