If you’re anything like me, you’ll be your own harshest critic. Sometimes I physically cringe as I remember every mistake I’ve ever made since I learned to tie my shoes. I drown in shame and self-doubt as every embarrassing thing I’ve said, every time I overreacted, every time I did something I regret crash over me in waves.
It can make it tough to love yourself, and self-love is the key to happiness and contentment. Not thinness, not a nice wardrobe, not even a great partner or incredible journey through south America on a moped.
Here are 5 tips to help you love yourself:
Have a long shower. A shower always soothes feelings of depression and anxiety for me. Take your time, wash your hair, condition it! Cut your nails and shave your legs if you’d like. Have a good old scrub and take as long as you need. Light candles in your bedroom and read a really easy, trashy book. Wear comfy clean clothes and lie in bed all morning watching your favourite movie. Drink an overpriced smoothie packed full of fruity goodness. Paint your nails. You get the idea, do a few small things for yourself and do it because you are worth it.
- Be with friends
When I was in high school, I started seeing the school counsellor because I felt worthless. She asked me if I had good friends. ‘Oh yes, they’re great. They’re so talented and kind.’ ‘Well, why would good people share their lives with you if you were worthless?’ It was a eureka moment to me. Think about the people in your life that mean a lot to you and why you love them. Trust your friends to have good judgment, they chose you for a reason.
- Get outside
If you stay inside when you’re feeling crap, you are bound to recycle those feelings around your head until they get blown out of proportion. Throw some clothes on, jump into your trainers and wrap a big coat around you. Go for a walk. It can be in the forest, the park or just around the block. Walk at a good pace and get that heart pumping, feel the wind pinch your cheeks and watch the world go past. It helps you get perspective and freshens your mind.
- Do something kind
If you are feeling rubbish about yourself, do a good deed. They say what goes around comes around, and small acts of kindness make the world a better place. Write a letter to a friend telling them you’re thinking of them, grab an extra can of lemonade and give it to somebody else. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. Why don’t you volunteer for an hour or two a week for a local charity?
- Meditation and Yoga
Take a little time out to relax your mind. I recommend the app called Head Space, which has easy to follow 10-minute meditation videos. Or you can type into YouTube ‘yoga for relaxation’ or ‘yoga for stress’ and you’ll find loads of little practices you can do in your bedroom, from 10 minutes up to an hour. Meditation is becoming more and more mainstream alongside the rise in mindfulness and understanding of mental health and I would really recommend it. It just involves taking some time to clear your mind and detach yourself from the stress of everyday life.
NB: people really don’t mind as much as you think. Most people are so caught up in their own worries and daily stresses that no one else is analysing your behaviour like you are. What may have felt like a terrible embarrassment to you probably doesn’t even cross anyone else’s mind. Think about it, how often do you sit around remembering the mistakes of other people? We tend to take people on a day to day basis and interact with them accordingly – so don’t agonise over your past behaviour, nobody else is.