"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line." ~ Lucille Ball
That's such a lovely idea, isn't it? That maybe the Beetles were right and all you really need is love.
But is self-love truly that important?
The short answer - heck yes it is! It's not exactly all you need (sorry Beetles!) But self-love is the true foundation of a healthy lifestyle. And much like the wonderful Lucille Ball said, everything really does fall into place around it.
But how exactly does that work? And what can we do to build a loving, fulfilling relationship with ourselves?
Let's talk about it! Here's what happens when you start to work on loving yourself fiercely...
What Does It Mean To Love Yourself?
Clinical Psychologist Deborah Khoshaba, Psy.D. believes that self-love is a state of appreciation for yourself that flourishes when your actions support your health, spiritual growth and well-being.
“When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept our weaknesses much better as well as our strengths, have less need to explain away our short-comings, have compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning, are more centered in our life purpose and values, and expect living fulfillment through our own efforts.”
When we care for our well-being and support our needs we're helping our self-love bloom!
This beautiful change allows us to be more kind and compassionate with ourselves. We begin to realize that we are just as worthy of goodness as those around us. And, ultimately, that realization inspires us to build a healthy, caring relationship with ourselves. Self-love is the gift that keeps on giving!
My favourite part - self-love breeds self-acceptance. When you try to learn to love yourself fiercely you begin to realize that you don’t need to become some mythical better version of yourself to be worthy of love. We are all worthy of love just as we are, right now, beautiful flaws and all.
Related: 8 Ways to Work on Self Acceptance + Free Self Love Affirmations List
Self-love is so important, in fact, that when someone asks me where to start when building a healthy lifestyle, working on loving yourself fiercely is always my answer.
Why? Because when you love yourself it's easier to make lasting, fulfilling healthy changes that are right for you. You keep your own best interest at heart. Self-care becomes a priority because you respect and see to your needs. You feed yourself with kindness because you know that you deserve it. And speak to yourself nicely because you know that you don’t deserve to be talked down to.
It’s like you have this super amazing bestie by your side at all times, making sure that you feel loved, cared for and at home in your own skin. Because you do! You’re stuck with yourself always darling; your relationship with you should be a top priority.
How Self-Love Supports Your Health
Loving yourself fiercely is starting to sound pretty awesome, isn't it? But it gets way cooler when you look at all of the wonderful health benefits.
Here's some of the goodness that self-love has to offer:
Related: 8 Ways to Love Yourself Fiercely (Your Health Will Thank You)
How exactly can self-love do all of that? Let's take a look!
Self-Love Helps You Cope With Stress (By Changing Your Brain!)
How amazing is it that something as simple and wonderful as loving yourself can change that big, gorgeous brain of yours?
Those who love and accept themselves have more grey matter in the areas of the brain that control emotions and stress, which can help us cope more efficiently. This even extends further to the parts of the brain that process stress and anxiety.
And when you’re living with an illness, like I do with Graves Disease, self-love can even help to reduce health related anxiety. And any help in that department is a freaking god-send!
Self-Love Protects Your Heart and Immune Health
It's so sweet that when you 'heart' yourself your heart reaps the rewards! And your immune system gets in on that action too.
This study even showed that positive changes in self-love and self-esteem have an awesome affect on the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and its influence on your heart.
In case you aren’t overly familiar with the parasympathetic nervous system (I sure wasn’t), its job is to slow and calm the heart, ease stress and reduce inflammation. Basically, it's the opposite of your fight of flight response. And if the PNS is happy you have a lower risk of developing heart issues or autoimmune diseases in the future. Go self-love!
Self-Love Even Boosts the Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation
I'm sure it's no surprise that meditation and mindfulness activities work wonders for your mental health. But when we love and accept ourselves those activities work even better. Self-love and mindfulness combined are like this fantastic superhero duo, working hard to take down stress and make you feel awesome!
9 Powerful Ways to Work on Self-Love
Self-love is clearly amazing for your health and well-being. And goodness can it ever make you feel awesome! But when you're looking to work on building a loving relationship with yourself knowing where to start can be the hardest part.
The first step? Simply making the choice to work on loving and accepting yourself as you are. It might not be easy, but you can totally do this!
And, good news, there are quite a few activities that can help! Here are 9 powerful ways to work on loving yourself:
1. Connect With Yourself
Connecting with yourself means developing a keen awareness of what you think, feel and want. Think of it as a marvelous opportunity to get to know yourself. This allows you to be more mindful of who you are and make decisions based on what works for you rather than what you think others might expect or want from you.
Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, journaling and even simply enjoying your own company are all great ways to connect with you.
2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Comparison truly is the thief of joy! It’s hard to feel good about yourself if you’re constantly measuring yourself up against others. They’ve got their own unique goodness happening and you have yours. It’s apples and oranges baby!
And hey, when we look at the accomplishments of others we often see their wins, not the struggles and hard work that went into getting there. So instead of getting a bad case of comparison-itis and feeling inferior, get inspired. Allow your admiration to fuel you, not drain you.
If you find yourself feeling bad and in the middle of a comparison game ask yourself why? Are there dreams you aren’t chasing? Do old wounds that need healing? This can be a great opportunity for self-compassion, which is a huge part of self-love.
3. Make Time for Yourself
This one can be difficult! We’re taught not to put ourselves first, because that would be selfish. But why not put yourself first? Don’t you deserve the same time, dedication, love and respect that you give to those around you? Heck yes you do!
When we're present for ourselves everyone benefits. Self-care helps to prevent you from feeling stressed, drained or simply burnt out. Which means there’s a lot more goodness to go around! Making time for ourselves makes us better able to be present for others.
Put a little time aside for you every day for the self-care activities and hobbies that make you feel good. It can make a world of difference.
4. Stop Negative Self-Talk in its Tracks
We all have an inner mean girl. And even when you do create a beautiful, loving relationship with yourself she may still pop up from time to time. But we have to take her megaphone away.
The biggest bully in your life shouldn’t live in your head. Try to acknowledge negative self-talk without judgment or anger and respond with kindness or simply let it go. If this seems bonkers try to imagine if you would say the same thing to someone else (or allow someone who talked to you that way to be a big part of your life). No, right?
When we realize how vindictive and ridiculous our inner mean girl can be it’s easier to take away her power.
Related: 3 Things You Need to Know About Practicing Self-Love
5. Drop Your Frenemies
If our inner mean girl doesn’t deserve to hang out with us, frenemies shouldn’t be part of our entourage either. If someone takes pride in dulling your shine you are far better off without them. Protecting yourself is loving yourself after all.
6. Accept that You are Uniquely Imperfect
This all goes back to realizing that you don’t need to be some mythical better version of yourself to be worthy of love. There will never be a you that is without fault. There’s no version of anyone that is without fault (yes, even Beyoncé has her imperfections!)
Relieving yourself of the impossibility of being perfect is such an incredible kindness. The pressure of perfection is not kind, it doesn’t cheer us on and it never truly leads us forward. It has no place with us on our self-love journey.
7. Set Boundaries.
Be clear with yourself (and whoever else needs to know) about your limits. Say no when you need to – to work, to company, to activities that drain you. You can’t do everything. It’s ok to say no and put those feet up.
8. Forgive Yourself
We all make mistakes. And hey, it’s great to take responsibility for your actions. But goodness, can we ever be hard on ourselves.
But being hard on yourself doesn’t build love. It doesn’t even allow us to grow and learn quite as much as we could if we simply acknowledged, accepted and moved forward. Let go, forgive yourself and move ahead. The relief alone is totally worth it!
9. Do What's Right for You
This is the most important part. Do what feels right to you! This is your self-love journey and your path is just as beautiful and unique as you are. If something helps you work on self-love then do more of it. Whatever works is golden!
Self-love can be hard. But goodness, is it ever worth it! It's a beautiful commitment to yourself but it requires time, patience and dedication to grow. Just like any loving relationship. And that means that it’s absolutely normal to struggle sometimes.
Some days you’re going to feel super awesome and love yourself wholeheartedly. Other times your inner mean girl might talk a bit louder than usual, leaving you feeling less than fantastic. But what’s important is that you know that that’s normal. And that you continue to work on practicing self-love, even through the difficult times.
You see, self-love is a continuous journey, not a destination. The most important thing is that you make a choice to work on accepting and loving yourself, as you are. Once you’ve made the commitment to love yourself everything else can start to fall into place. Lucille Ball wasn't kidding!
Ready to love yourself wholeheartedly? Tell me what you love about yourself in the comments. Have any advice you would add to the list? Share your goodness with us! Looking forward to reading your lovely thoughts.
Health and love,
Sara is a Canadian wellness writer, Graves Disease Thriver and the creator of mshealthesteem.com. And she's super passionate about helping you build your ultimate healthy lifestyle. One that is as unique and wonderful as you are!
Sara writes weekly articles on self-love, self-care, wellness, and nourishing your body. And has a free Healthy Dessert Recipe E-Book and Self-Care E-Book waiting for your right here.
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Please note: The information contained in this article is not medical advice and if you are concerned about your health, please seek professional support from a doctor or hospital. This post may contain affiliate links that I am compensated for at no extra cost to you. Want to start your own blog? Click here!