The Real-life Benefits of Being Kind to Yourself

Self-love is a popular concept that’s exploded in popularity recently; many people agree that it can change the way you go about each day, but what exactly is it? Self-love isn’t simply an idea that stays in your head. It involves cultivating an attitude of kindness towards yourself and then reflecting that changed attitude in your actions. If you’re new to the concept of self-love, however, it can be hard to know exactly where you should start. Here are a few ways you can practice self-love.

1. Pay attention to how you’re speaking to yourself.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “You are your own worst critic.” It’s easy to fall into the habit of criticizing yourself harshly, constantly saying things to yourself like, “I can’t believe I’m such an idiot!” or “I’m such a failure, I can’t do anything right.” Everyone will fall into these thoughts at some point, but it’s not healthy to think these things constantly. Try to be aware of the language you’re using with yourself and to replace these thoughts with more positive ones.

Avoid beating yourself up for the mistakes that you make. Instead, calmly recognize how you can do better next time and try to focus on what you learned from the experience. It’s human to mess up, but even your mistakes serve a function—through them, you’re able to learn and improve yourself. You should also try to take note of what you have done right; it’s easy to simply focus on the negative, but try to remind yourself of your good decisions and successes as well.

2. Make time to relax.

Life can be incredibly busy. Between trying to juggle your job, your family, and your social life, it’s easy to let self-love and self-care fall to the wayside. It’s important to take time to simply relax, even if it’s just a few minutes out of every day. This aspect of self-love might look different for you than it does for someone else, but choose an activity that relaxes you. You might want to read a good book, watch a TV show, or take a quiet soak in the bathtub.

You may even enjoy taking some time to spend with your friends or family; showing self-love isn’t always a solo activity, but it shouldn’t be a chore, either—it should relax you. If you choose to spend your free time with friends or family, try having a movie or game night—maybe even get out of the house if you’d rather have a night out! The important thing is that you choose an activity that makes you happy and leaves you feeling refreshed and joyful, ready to take on tomorrow’s challenges.

3. Learn to set boundaries.

For some of us, one of the hardest lessons we may ever have to learn is simply to say “no.” It can feel like you’re letting people down if you turn down an invitation to a party or a request to bake cookies for the neighborhood bake sale, but it’s incredibly easy to overcommit yourself if you don’t say no every once in a while. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting and may cause you to burn out or to stop enjoying a group or activity you used to love. Although it can be hard, learn to set healthy boundaries and avoid overcommitting yourself—this can apply to your job, church, social groups, and even relationships. You’ll be able to provide more attention and quality work to the tasks and activities you do commit yourself to—and you’ll enjoy it a whole lot more if you’re not running on empty and stressing about the next task.

4. Commit to a healthy lifestyle.

Busy schedules can make it hard to practice all the elements of a healthy lifestyle regularly. You might struggle to find the time to exercise, get enough sleep, or to eat healthy meals. Each of these elements, however, can help you feel healthier both in the short and long term. Exercise, a healthy diet, and at least eight hours of sleep every night can each help you have more energy, boost your immune system so that you’re sick less often, improve your mood, and more. A healthy diet can even improve your dental health, since fruits and vegetables are full of tooth-healthy vitamins and may even help remove plaque from your teeth as you chew.

You might struggle to implement all of these habits at once, so it’s okay to adopt one habit at a time. Try fixing your sleep schedule first, then gradually improve your diet to include healthier snacks and move towards healthier meals as you begin an exercise schedule. You don’t have to throw yourself into exercising by starting to run several miles a day. Find a method of exercise you enjoy—whether it’s swimming, jogging, hiking, or something else entirely—and ease yourself into it. Begin with mild exercise for a few minutes every day and add a few minutes or increase the intensity a little each week. You’ll likely notice a difference in your energy levels after changing just one of these aspects of your life. A healthier lifestyle will help you live a healthier, longer life, so it’s a rewarding way to show self-love.

5. Invest in yourself.

A little self-confidence can go a long way in your daily life, so sometimes it’s nice to invest in yourself a little bit. If there’s an aspect of your smile that’s always bothered you, for example, give yourself permission to take care of it through cosmetic dentistry. This doesn’t mean you have to spend buckets of money; cosmetic dentistry is getting more and more affordable, and dental insurance will help pay for certain treatments. If you’re concerned about the cost of your treatment, you can schedule a consultation with Dr. Tomasik to discuss your treatment options and what each treatment would cost.

Keep in mind, however, that whatever change you make will generally be long-term; instead of boosting your confidence for a short period of time, it’s a lifelong investment in your confidence and your appearance.

In other cases, investing in yourself might simply mean buying yourself a nice outfit, spending a little extra money for a good haircut, or paying for a college course that will help advance your career. Small changes can make a world of a difference in the way you see yourself and the confidence with which you face each day.

Self-love involves a change in the way you think about yourself, encouraging you to be kinder to yourself and to become more aware of your own physical and emotional needs, but it can’t simply stop there. If it’s going to be effective, you need to put this new way of thinking into action. In most cases, practicing self-love simply involves creating or dropping a few habits and taking a few minutes to an hour for yourself every day. With even a few small changes, you’ll notice a difference in your stress and energy levels, in your positivity, and perhaps even in your emotional, mental, and physical health.

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