So many of us struggle to show ourselves love. Often, we’re too hard on ourselves and don’t realize it until we reach a breaking point. Taking the time to prioritize self-love has striking health benefits, and is an important part of life and recovery. In this blog, learn some of the ways you can practice self-love and give yourself the care you deserve.
What Is Self-Love?
Self-love involves being mindful of your own happiness and wellbeing, as well as taking care of your own needs. Practicing self-love is particularly important during eating disorder recovery. Recovery is challenging, and it’s common to become discouraged and put yourself down. Try not to let those negative self-thoughts overwhelm you. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight. There are many new skills to learn and incorporate into your life. Remind yourself that you’re moving in the right direction, and trust that your hard work and patience will pay off.
You can also rely on support people to help you when you’re saying critical things about yourself. Ask yourself what you need first. Do you need someone to point out when you’re saying self-critical things? Do you need someone to redirect you when you are in a bad headspace? Just like support for recovery, support for self-love comes in different forms. Words of affirmation might work for some, while others may need alone time. Talk with your support people to determine a plan that fits your recovery.
Ways to Practice Self-Love
Self-love is for everyone, though it may look a little different from person to person. Tactics that work for some might not work for others (and that’s okay). It can take a few tries to find something that suits you, so keep at it! Below is a list of acts of self-love:
Talk to yourself as you would your best friend. You wouldn’t say mean things about your best friend, so why would you say them about yourself? If your friend was having a hard day, you would encourage them and tell them they did their best. Try those positive words of support with yourself.
Try putting notes of encouragement around your mirrors, desks, walls, calendars, or wherever you feel necessary. Put them in places you’ll see them every day. Read them out loud if you need to and try to remember the messages throughout the day. Some notes could be “I” statements if that resonates with you, or some could be “you” statements if that’s what you prefer. Examples include:
- You are enough
- I got this
- The only opinion that matters is your own
- You are important
- Recovery is possible
- I matter
- Hey gorgeous 😉
- I believe in myself
- Be patient with yourself
- You’re amazing
- I am thankful for ____
Make these notes as personal as they need to be. Sometimes having a mixture of broad and personal notes can be more helpful.
End Toxic Relationships
You deserve to have supportive, positive people around you. If there is anyone who makes you feel upset or sad about yourself, they don’t need to be in your life. We know, easier said than done. But you’ll likely feel relieved when you part ways.
Again, turn to your support people if needed when it comes to a toxic friend, partner, or family member. There are many boundaries that you can set for yourself. Support people can help identify boundaries or can assist in helping you distance yourself from a toxic person. You can also work with your therapist for additional help with identifying toxic behaviors and setting boundaries.
Toxic relationships can exist online, too. If you are following social media accounts that make you feel bad about yourself or feel that you are comparing yourself against others on a page, unfollowing that account may be the best course of action. If diet culture ads pop up on your feed, you can always hide the ad and let the social media algorithm do its job. Find blogs or social media accounts that make you happy, give off positive vibes, and inspire you. Find pages and groups to join that offer support or allow you to explore your favorite hobbies, shows, books, or games. Like-minded people can help you end friendships that are no longer serving you, as well as help with your recovery in general.
Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Give yourself some credit. If you handled a situation well or just got through a tough day, praise yourself. Simply noting that you are doing your best and highlighting your skills can help you feel more self-love.
A simple, easy compliment might be all you need. Try: “I did my best today.” Humans make mistakes and are not perfect. Feeling emotions and having bad days are completely normal. Try not to be so hard on yourself when you have those bad days. It is not reasonable to push yourself to 100 percent when you can only offer 50 percent; this only causes stress, anxiety, and burnout. In eating disorder recovery, some victories may not be celebrated because they are mistakenly viewed as unimportant or insignificant. But every single step in recovery matters and deserves celebration. Recovery is hard work, and it is not a linear process. Celebrate your victories no matter what they are.
Self-Love Doesn’t Need to Be a Daunting Task
Many people forget that self-love doesn’t have to be extravagant. Self-love doesn’t have to be a spa day or involve spending any amount of money. Taking small breaks throughout the day to breathe or give yourself positive reminders are forms of self-love.
Sometimes in recovery or just in life, you may feel like you didn’t do something well or you didn’t do enough. Allow yourself to have bad days and to make mistakes, while also giving yourself a break. Just as you are patient with others, try giving some of that love and compassion to yourself.