Ways to Practice Self-Love During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Written by Harley Burland.
We live in a society that encourages growth and success. And while achieving your goals can be very rewarding, it can also be f*cking exhausting. We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be better and to strive for perfection in our daily lives. We downplay things that are important to us and emphasize the achievements we think others will celebrate. While social media can be a beautiful tool for creating community and support, it can also be harmful when we compare our lives to what we see online. It can be difficult to feel happy with our lives when we see how much happier other people seem to be.
We are often our own worst critics. It can be overwhelming to feel like our accomplishments don’t stack up or that our daily lives are somehow not as interesting as our friend’s. Right now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, those comparisons are amplified. Few of us are accomplishing what we had planned to these days. And with all this free time, we are spending a lot more of it online.
While some of us are struggling to get out of bed at a decent hour, others are posting their incredible work outs or DIY successes. Even though we aren’t obligated to be productive during isolation, it can be hard to feel like we are doing enough with the free time we’ve been given. That inner voice can tear you down if you let it. Or, you can practice self-love and retrain that inner voice to cheer you on.
In this article I'll go over:
- What Does Self Love Even Mean?
- Why is Self-Love so Important?
- How do You Find Self-Love?
- How do You Develop Self-Love?
- What's the Psychology Behind Self-Love?
- How Can I Practice Self-Love?
- What are Some Self-Love Affirmations?
- What are the Best Self-Love Books That I Can Read?
What Does Self-Love Even Mean?
Self love is defined as the regard for one's own well-being and happiness. It’s taking your feelings into account when you’re making decisions about what to do. Self-love is remembering your worth and putting value in yourself. It’s listening to your own needs and practicing self-respect. It can be difficult for us to express self love as we don’t want to come across as narcissistic or egotistic. Let me tell you right now, we are all entitled to happiness. It’s not something you earn, it’s something you deserve. By realizing our own potential and nurturing the inner voice that tells us what we need, we learn to self-accept and promote self-love.
Why is Self-Love so Important?
Self-love isn’t just important – it’s essential. Especially during hard times, it’s important to practice self-love. Our normal routines and the activities that make us feel good have been taken away. I know for myself, a lot of my happiness comes from being good at my job, and being around my friends. Suddenly I can’t do either of those things. And it seems like I might not for a while. So I need to practice self-compassion and mindfulness for my well-being and mental health.
Of course, we all have moments where we don’t like the reflection in the mirror. Moments when the inner-critic wins. When we wish we could change parts of ourselves. Sometimes that inner voice in our hearts can say negative things. With so much uncertainty and disappointment right now, it’s easy to fall into a negative headspace. When we are confident and comfortable with our inner-self, we can handle rejections and failures much more easily.
When we practice self-love, we increase our self-worth and dissolve our negative self-talk. Having self-compassion can help us to build resilience in the face of adversity. And right now, we are dealing with a LOT of adversity.
How do You Find Self-Love?
Listening to your needs and practicing self-care will help you to build positive self-love habits. Of course it’s important to recognize that self-love isn’t always simple. Past traumas can make us feel unworthy of the happiness we deserve. True self-love requires a lot of work. It’s normal to doubt yourself sometimes, we all have negative thoughts. But if you struggle with low self-esteem, you may want to explore other options. Self-love is an inward journey. And there are so many ways to build up your self worth. Life coaches and clinical psychologists can support you in this, and so can books, podcasts, positive self-talk, mindfulness, the list goes on and on. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for help. We can all use a little boost when it comes to self-help. Don’t you think?
How do You Develop Self-Love?
Moving away from perfectionism can deeply help to develop self-love. There’s a difference between knowing your capabilities and pushing yourself too hard. Perfectionism has been linked to depression, IBS, anxiety, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. By practicing self-love, we can actually improve our health. One tool I find extremely handy are personality tests. There are a lot of free ones that you can take online. Answer honestly and read through your results. I find the first step to loving yourself is knowing yourself. Identifying what makes you *you* allows for more honesty in what you need. Being able to communicate your needs will improve your self-worth and interpersonal skills. When you can express your own needs to loved ones, it builds stronger relationships. Self-love starts inward and flows into every other part of your life.
What’s the Psychology Behind Self-Love?
The concept of self-love may seem a little odd at first. But many psychological studies have shown how impactful self-love is for the state of our mental health. Self-compassion is also important for dealing with depression and anxiety.
How Can I Practice Self-Love?
First, I think it’s important to know what triggers your self-doubt. It’s healthy to be self-critical sometimes, but it’s not healthy to tear yourself down. How do you talk to yourself when you notice a flaw or mistake? When do you notice you’re hardest on yourself? Chances are, it’s related to social media. Go through your feed and be mindful of how you react to the posts you see. It’s totally acceptable to unfollow or mute accounts that cause you to feel insecure. There are a lot of really cool accounts that promote self-love, and self-acceptance. Given them a follow so you see these reminders daily. Remember, we are all human beings. We are all beautiful and deserving of self-love. Don’t beat yourself up for having negative thoughts. That’s natural. Just be careful not to dwell on them longer than you need to.
Practicing self-love can be difficult. To trick yourself, think of how you would treat your best friend instead. We are usually better at loving others than loving ourselves. Now do that for yourself. Make your favourite meal, create a playlist of songs that make your heart sing. Get outside and move your body. When a negative thought arises, ask yourself, “what do I need right now?” Be kind to yourself. Write a list of the things you have accomplished, but shift your idea of what that means. We often forget to celebrate the small wins. Did you get out of bed today? Great! No? That's great too, when else are you going to be able to lay in bed all day? Listen to what you need, then? Give yourself the space to feel that. Self-care is essential for our mental health.
One massive shift for myself was creating boundaries. By listening to my needs and respecting my own boundaries, I was able to remove a lot of negative self talk. Sometimes we negate our own needs because we want to be loved. But when we love ourselves first, we can love others in a much healthier way. Respecting your own boundaries is a great tool for self-love because it shows self-respect. Navigating your growth path and doing the inner work needed to truly establish self-love isn’t an easy task, but I promise, it’s worth it.
What Are Some Self-Love Affirmations?
When moments of self-doubt creep in, you want to flood them with love. Self-love affirmations can be powerful little tools to have in your back-pocket. And I mean that literally and figuratively. Having little notes to remind you of the warrior that you truly are can have an big impact. Write on your mirror, sticky note the hell out of your space, change your alarm title, and whenever you notice a negative thought about yourself, think of an affirmation or mantra.
Here are a few of my favourites:
I am more than enough.
I have everything I need in this moment.
Today, I’m compassionate to myself.
I love myself unconditionally.
I love my body, I love my mind, I love my spirit.
What Are the Best Self-Love Books That I Can Read?
We got you on this one. But we can’t promise there aren’t any ‘F’ bombs. Here are a few of our favourites:
Choose Wonder Over Worry by Amber Rae
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
Be Unapologetically You: A Self Love Guide for Women of Color by Adeline Bird
The Self Love Workbook by Shainna Ali
Self-love is a lot like yoga. The goal isn’t to master it, the goal is to practice it. By strengthening our practice of self-love, we nurture our needs and build a stronger connection to our inner-self.
Self-love looks like a lot of different things, but I want to leave you with this: You are enough. However you’re coping right now is enough. It’s perfectly normal to be feeling lower than usual. This is a difficult time for everyone, and showing yourself compassion will make things easier.
Our goals are on hold, our plans for summer may be cancelled, but our inner work can still continue. It’s hard to see growth when we are in the middle of it, but this uncomfortable period of time will eventually end. When we look back on this time, we’ll remember the kindness and stillness we created in our hearts.
Be kind to yourself and know that we’ll all get through this together. Take a deep breath, be proud of the strength you continue to show, and remember to find gratitude in the beautiful messiness of your heart.
**We know that Amazon isn’t aligned with our values. If you decide to purchase one of the mentioned books, we encourage you to buy from the author's website, but if you prefer to order through Amazon, using the links in this blog post will give Wakeful Travel a tiny cut from the sales so we can do more good shit. Cheers.