Valentine’s Day is right around the corner! You’re greeted by pink and red hearts and candy galore in stores everywhere. While we often take this time of year to appreciate and recognize the other people in our lives who we love, Dr. Yazhini Srivathsal, psychiatrist at Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, explains it is equally, if not more important, to focus on self-love.
While the love and support of others is invaluable, Dr. Srivathsal cannot emphasize enough that, to truly love someone else, you need to be able to love yourself. This love of yourself is what allows us to empathize and really connect with others on a deeper level. Dr. Srivathsal shares some inspirational words and advice below to ensure that you are treating yourself with the love that you deserve.
Know you are worthy – no matter what. Your worthiness does not depend on anything you do or don’t do. It does not depend on who you are or who you are not. It also doesn’t have anything to do with how you look. You deserve to treat yourself with respect, compassion and a high level of importance because you are who you are and that is enough. Practicing self-love does not mean that you are selfish or even that you are going to feel good about yourself all the time. It is more than treating yourself to a pair of new shoes or simply accepting your “flaws.” Truly practicing self-love means that you genuinely love yourself for who you are in this moment, flaws and all.
Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. If your best friend, or someone you love, was upset or feeling down, you wouldn’t continue to beat them down, you would try to build them up. Therefore, you should treat yourself with the same level of compassion and love. It is important to make a conscious effort to stop abusing yourself and, instead, be even kinder to yourself when things don’t go as planned.
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone’s life is different. We all have different struggles and different things that bring us happiness. The constant comparing of yourself to others can be a tough habit to break; however, breaking this habit is a good step toward being kinder to yourself.
Try to live intentionally every day. Little steps every day will help you get to where you want to be. Eat good food that will help your body. Do things that make you happy and will make you happy in the long-run. Understand that you are doing these things because you are important.
Be your own cheerleader. Growing up, our parents often cheered us on and helped acknowledge our successes. As an adult, it’s important to continue that tradition and cheer yourself on. You can even make a little cheer song for yourself – you will be surprised how fun it is when you sing it to yourself and encourage yourself along the way. Try challenging yourself to something new every week, or maybe even every day. There is nothing like the feeling of accomplishing something you never thought you could do. Be sure to celebrate even your smallest wins along the way. Remember, what’s the worst that could happen? You try something new and you’re not the best at it or you don’t succeed…so what? You might just surprise yourself and master a new skill. Push yourself to reach your goals and be proud of all the little things you accomplish.
Make sure to have at least a few minutes of “me time” every day. During this time, focus on self-reflection and mindfulness. Learn to be comfortable spending time with yourself. Practice gratefulness by trying to find something you are grateful for each day, even days you are feeling down. Sometimes, writing down your thoughts helps you get out of “auto-pilot” and gives you a better perspective of your own life. Taking the time to look at your life as if you were a third-party observer helps you understand yourself even better.
Surround yourself with people who support you and lift you up. Learn to be assertive and be comfortable saying no. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself or distance yourself from people or situations that are not positively influencing you. Surrounding yourself with those who love and support you can help you see in yourself what others see in you. While having this support is beneficial, try to ensure you are not always looking for external validation and work to be comfortable with your own self-approval.
Love yourself as you are right now. Many of us get into a mindset of telling ourselves that we must wait to achieve a certain goal before we will love ourselves. We say, “Once I lose 10 pounds, buy a house and get that promotion, then I will be happy.” Dr. Srivathsal explains, however, that the only way practicing self-love works is by loving yourself as you are in this moment. She assures us that the more we practice self-love, the easier it gets, and soon, it will become a habit.
Remember, self-love is an important part of being a happy and healthy individual. If you need help mastering this skill, a behavioral health expert can help. Search for a doctor near you that meets your needs: bannerhealth.com/physician-directory