When it comes to love, we often offer it over more than we give it to ourselves. We give love to our family, partner, friends, and so on. This could be in our time, energy, money, and other resources.
And then we’re depleted. (Sometimes we get nothing in return, no reciprocation.)
Only once we’re exhausted of ourselves do we realize we gave our all to those around us but not to ourselves. And that’s when our mental health suffers.
I myself have undiagnosed depression. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, since childhood, and only as an adult did it manifest into a dark, deep emptiness. And only then was I able to put a name to it and do something about it. (I removed myself from the source of my depression and spent a whole year living on my own, with new friends to support my journey.)
I also have high functioning anxiety. I’m anxious about many things, but I can still function with my anxiety. For instance, I get anxious just thinking about driving, but I still drive to work and back; I dislike big crowds and feel claustrophobic and anxious, but I still hit up the store and go to concerts and shows.
Sadly there is no pill nor button that can be pressed as a “cure-all” for all mental health issues or disorders. Instead, some of us seek professional support while others learn to cope. And only then can we love ourselves a little bit more each day.
What is Self-Love?
Dictionary.com states that it is “the instinct or tendency to seek one’s own well-being or to further one’s own interest.” (See Note)
The answer is simple: “To seek one’s own well-being” simply means to care for yourself. “To further one’s own interest” means do what you want to do. All in all, take time for yourself. Be selfish, in a good way.
So how do you do that?
5 Ways to Love Yourself:
- Say “No”
Saying no does not make you a bad person, especially if you find yourself to be a people pleaser (like me). It just simply means you’re setting a boundary for yourself, a line in which there are activities you will and will not do, behaviors you will or will not tolerate, and so forth. Sure it may feel excruciating at first–denying others–but you’ll find, in time, that you’ve grown a thick skin, and the tolerance rises.
I’ve had to start saying no to family events and get-together because my husband and I don’t come from healthy homes. Sitting at the dinner table is just awkward and uncomfortable. And getting together with friends doesn’t always fit our schedule, with work and our kids.
- Have Me-Time
Me-time is designated time for just yourself, to unwind. It could be painting, writing, cooking, or just plain staring at your technology of choice without interruptions. Me-Time allows you to recharge and be ready to interact with others and the world again.
I spend my me-time reading and writing (blogging). I feel so relieved and refreshed afterwards.
- Go on a Walk
There are so many benefits to walking. You’re getting your steps in, you’re filling yourself with oxygen, you’re waking yourself up, changing your scenery, to name a few. If you go on a nature walk, compared to school and work, nature knows no bounds, metaphorically and literally. There’s no rush to be somewhere and no deadline to meet. It just is. So when you go on a nature walk, your only job is to enjoy the view, breathe, and listen. Also take this time to acknowledge just how lucky you are to be alive. And to be you.
I personally enjoy walking around at the mall. My favorite mall is actually a quiet, dead one. I enjoy this mall because there’s no rush of other bodies (no traffic), and my kids can run around and play. Just the act of walking around makes me feel good to be out of the house, to change up routine. Plus I love watching my kids run around, enjoying themselves.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal
As the days and weeks progress, it’s easy for you to recall forgetting or losing something, stubbing your toes, sacrificing lunch due to a time crunch, going to bed late and/or accidentally sleeping in, and so on. Yet when was the last time you smiled up at the sky, jumped into that puddle like a kid again, admired your name plate at work, greeted a spouse/ friend/ colleague? Having a gratitude journal really helps us calm our thoughts and recollect on the good that has happened to us. Plus, it’s easier to fall asleep happy than grumpy (try it). (Obtain your own journal here.)
A gratitude journal, for me, is a written prayer to god. I call this my Diary to God, where He is my audience. And to Him I pour all the positives and negatives in my day, including the things I’m grateful for.
- Surround Yourself with Positive People
When our days aren’t going to plan, it’s easy to spot the Negative Nancies–or worse, become one. Then the clock seems to stop working, and we feel like running away and becoming a hermit. Why? Because “nothing” can’t hurt us. (Unless you’ve heard of “The Nothing” from The Never Ending Story.) However, that’s not what “life” is. Life is meant to be spent and enjoyed. Therefore, we should surround ourselves with people who make life worthwhile. Worthy of our time, money, energy, you name it. So get on out there and spend time with people who make you feel great to be you!
My husband and I like to get friends together and do bbq’s in the spring and summer because we want to catch-up with them. And we also attend dinners with friends, especially sushi night.
Before you can give love to others, by filling up their love bucket, don’t forget to give it to yourself first. And doing these 5 things, you’ll be feeling well enough to be with those who need and appreciate you most. Remember: you cannot give what you do not have.