Happy woman hugging herself

Show Yourself Some Love

Taking care of yourself and your own needs helps to ensure that you’re healthy and happy enough to care for those around you.

Loving yourself is sometimes associated with being selfish or narcissistic, but practicing self-love is actually really important. Taking care of yourself and your own needs helps to ensure that you’re healthy and happy enough to care for those around you.

But it can be hard to put yourself first. Too often we let our own health and wellness take the backseat to meet the demands of others. As a parent or caretaker, there’s always someone that needs your attention. If you’re a diligent employee, there’s always a project that could use a little more of your time. If you’re in a relationship, it’s easy to let someone else’s needs take priority over your own.

Self-love can be a challenge, but if you start prioritizing yourself and making small changes, you’ll find it can really help your overall health and well-being. Learn more about self-love, why it matters and some helpful tips on how to cultivate it.

What Is Self-Love?

Self-love looks different for everyone, but it begins with an appreciation and respect for yourself. It involves treating yourself with kindness and compassion, seeing your value and taking care of yourself.Woman eating healthy and exercising

It doesn’t mean you’re always proud of everything you say or do. It doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes and disappoint yourself from time to time. But it does mean that you accept yourself for who you are and nurture the person you want to be.

Why Does It Matter?

Loving and caring for yourself is an important part of your overall well-being. When you pay attention to your own needs, you may become more resilient to stress and may be more capable of meeting the needs of those around you.

Loving yourself can help you build confidence – which may allow you to take healthy risks, make important decisions and take on new challenges. Self-love may allow you to say no when you want to and help you take better care of your health. When you love yourself, you believe you are worth being treated with respect and kindness.

How Can I Cultivate It?

Everyone’s journey is going to look different, but check out these 12 ideas for some ways to show yourself some love:

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others. In the age of social media, it’s almost impossible not to compare yourself to people who all seem better looking, healthier, wealthier, happier and more successful than you do. But making these comparisons is self-destructive. Remind yourself there is beauty in all sizes, shapes, ages and abilities – starting with you.
  2. Be kind to yourself. Many of us are harsher on ourselves than anyone else in our lives. Do you catch yourself being critical throughout the day – maybe telling yourself you’re overweight, not a good partner or you don’t make enough money? It’s easy to bash yourself, but instead, try to treat yourself with grace, kindness and forgiveness – the same way you’d treat a friend or family member.
  3. Forgive yourself. Every one of us has a different story, but if you’re holding on to old memories, past regrets or big mistakes you’ve made in the past, it may be hard to move forward. When you practice self-love, you can work on accepting your mistakes and finding a way to forgive yourself.
  4. Spend time around supportive and positive people. You deserve to be uplifted by those around you. When you feel love and support from others, it’s easier to give those same things to yourself. If you find the people around you leave you stressed, drained and depressed, it may be time to reevaluate your relationships. It’s not rude or selfish to protect your mental health and well-being – even if it means distancing yourself from certain people.Senior man meditating at home
  5. Establish habits and routines that support you. What things do you do daily that support your mental, physical and spiritual well-being? What can you add to your daily routine that addresses your own happiness and health? Put some “you time” onto the calendar to ensure you’re doing enough for yourself. Maybe it’s a five-minute stretch or meditation each morning. Or maybe it’s a gym session with a couple of friends after work. Whatever it is, make these things part of your daily routine.
  6. Accept compliments. When someone pays you a compliment, don’t just excuse it away or brush it off. Think about the kind words and try saying “Thank you” instead. It’s important to hear the good things and internalize them. You can compliment yourself too. Be proud when you complete a task at work. Feel good when you make a healthy meal choice for your body.
  7. Set boundaries. When you don’t have healthy boundaries, it’s easier to get taken advantage of. For example, if your boss thinks you’re available to work 24 hours a day, or your partner thinks you’re OK with handling all of the chores, it can cause you to feel resentful and angry. Be willing to speak up, say no and share when you feel like your boundaries aren’t being respected.
  8. Express gratitude. Instead of focusing on what you don’t like about yourself or your life, try to find ways to appreciate what you do have. For example, when you wake up, pause for a moment and think about your body and what it enables you to do. Step outside and find something beautiful to look at. Think about a family member, a friend or a pet that you’re thankful to have in your life. When you start from a place of gratitude, it can help you find happiness in your life.
  9. Cultivate your self-love. Self-love doesn’t happen overnight. It isn’t just treating yourself to a night out or a massage every couple of months (although that’s OK too). It’s about loving yourself for who you are. So think about what may be holding you back – Is there a relationship that you’d like to repair? Is there an apology you owe someone? Is there a trauma in your past you’re having a hard time getting beyond? If you can identify anything that’s holding you back from feeling happy with yourself, you may be able to address it and begin moving forward.
  10. Take care of your health. Your health and wellness deserve your attention. Staying up to date on your preventative care, eating nutritious foods, moving your body and getting enough sleep are all vital ways to show yourself some love. Ask yourself what you need to feel your healthiest. If it’s time to work out each day, explore your options for a gym membership, at-home workouts or a free yoga or tai chi class. If it’s some time alone each day, talk to your family about a schedule change so you can have some time to yourself.Young man meeting with a therapist
  11. Try meditation. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several guided meditations and breathing practices that address many aspects of self-love. Find videos on practicing gratitude, checking in with your body, scheduling pleasant activities and much more in the #LiveWholeHealth series.
  12. Connect with the resources and support you deserve. Self-love can be challenging. You may find you need help along the way. VA has a lot of great resources to explore. Connect with a mental health professional, join a support group, explore VA’s Whole Health approach to care, or talk to your health care provider about what you need to feel good about yourself.

You don’t have to spend another day feeling bad about yourself. Start practicing self-love and put yourself at the top of your list.

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