This is a blog that I’ve been planning on writing for some time now. Encouraged by positive responses to earlier posts I’ve written about embracing ageing and holistic skincare, I guess self-love is something you’re interested in. But unusually for me, I’ve been putting off writing my blog, a task that is always a favourite on my to-do list. Why?
Well, if I’m honest it’s a difficult subject for me to tackle because, actually, I don’t always like the skin I’m in and that’s a hard thing to admit when you’ve spent your whole career advising women how to love themselves from the inside out.
Despite the holistic yoga lifestyle I try to lead, I guess I’m pretty much like everyone else when it comes to self-love – I actually find it hard and it seems to be getting harder not easier as I get older. Surely, we should start accepting and embracing ourselves as we age – the good and the bad? We tell our friends ‘don’t worry, you are perfect just as you are’, we comment on posts of the people we follow ‘you are enough’ but I believe we also need to be saying this to ourselves as well – a lot more.
Ok, so I post upbeat self-care tips, yes I do know true beauty comes from within and I understand that if I treat myself more like someone worthy of love I will open up to its possibilities but sometimes that judgemental voice in my head gets the better of me. Sometimes, it seems everyone is fitter, younger and more flexible than me, that they are making prettier smoothie bowls, creating better content, that they have more likes than me, that maybe I don’t know enough, who am I to give the advice etc etc ……... Self-doubt and self-love are close bed-fellows – and once we let the doubt creep in and the self-love soon starts to run thin.
And if I’m feeling like this, in my forties, what on earth is my teenage daughter feeling like? Do you know teenagers – girls at least, I don’t know about boys, yet anyways – consult their friends first before posting a photo in case it isn’t flattering or cool enough or worthy of at least 300 likes? Do you have any idea how many filtering, slimming, adding-in-makeup, thickening hair type of apps there are out there for them to create the perfect photo? Well, if you have kids like me, we better do a good job of loving ourselves so we can help them navigate all this because if we find self-love hard it’s a thousand times harder for them.
However, having said all this, don’t worry, this blog is not all doom and gloom and I’m not going to say something silly like never look at social media again. Instead, I have been compiling a list of positive things you can do to lift your spirits and start loving yourself more – it’s not going to be simple and you will have to put in the time and break deep-rooted habits. We all know the easier path is to distract ourselves with a brave face, a glass of wine and keeping busy but doing this denies your true feelings.
Ok, so what can we practically do? Firstly, I have listed some self-care tips and healthy living advice that will help you treat yourself well, really well. When you feel good on the inside you look better on the outside and your positivity increasing. Don’t dismiss these ideas simply because you’ve heard them before. Instead try them properly and stick with them. Take the risk of investing in yourself mind, body and soul, and see what happens.
Secondly, I have listed some lifestyle changes I have made, that have helped me and will hopefully help you too.
Daily Self-Love Strategy
There is no one magical ritual I can recommend for loving yourself but making time to look after yourself and for moments of happiness in your day is a big step in the right direction.
Eat a healthy, nutritious diet: shopping, preparing, cooking and eating delicious food is a simple and enjoyable way we can all nourish and nurture ourselves. Don’t just cook what your kids or partner likes – make dishes that you enjoy eating too.
Prioritize sleep: try to get enough sleep so you wake up feeling refreshed. Experts agree that going to bed and getting up at the same time each day seems to be the best way to achieve this. (Sorry, if you are a mum to a young baby or small kids – this tip will be impossible for you to follow – hang in there for another year or two, it’s tough but you will survive the sleep-deprivation xxx)
Exercise: the feel-good factor of working out goes hand-in-hand with self love – whatever’s your thing, yoga, Barre, HIIT, cycle classes, running, aim to train at least 3 days a week and be as active as possible everyday, walking or cycling wherever possible.
Meditation: personally, it took me a long time to ‘get’ meditation, now I don’t know how I resisted the mental and physical benefits for so long. If you find sitting still and breathing hard, don’t give up. Get comfortable, support your back if necessary, and prop your knees with cushions if your hips are tight. Close your eyes and simply inhale and exhale – you can use a mantra if it helps, silently inhaling ‘I am ’, exhaling ‘enough’. It’s that simple and that hard!
Treat yourself: buy yourself a frothy matcha latte, a bunch of flowers or a big tub of fresh mango. Watch something you’d never admit to loving on Netflix. Leave your desk at lunchtime for a walk. Wear your favourite patterned yoga pants. Apply a slick of bright lipstick. Rewarding yourself throughout the day signals to yourself that you’re a beautiful person worthy of being loved.
And now for the things that take more time and you might manage to do once a week or once a month.
Regular digital detoxes. Try to reduce the time you spend on social media. We all know that when we scroll through our feeds, we’re seeing the most flattering images of people, we’re seeing the most exciting aspects of their life, and we’re seeing the best parts of their day. No one is sharing the boring, uneventful, mundane aspects of their life and of themselves and even when they say they are I don’t actually believe them.
Yet despite knowing all this, scrolling through perfect images all day long where everyone seems to have co-ordinating yoga pants, chia pots and sofa covers does nothing for our self-confidence. We need to remember, this is just an edit - everyone has not-so-glamorous things going on in their life too.
Try to take days or at least chunks of two or three hours throughout the day so you can fully enjoy the activity you are doing or engage with the people you are with.
Create calm and quiet on a regular basis. An extra-long bath, a walk through the woods, an early morning meditation before everyone else is up – all these things take you closer back to who you truly are and are so good for the soul. Keep making the time to be quiet.
Do not let yourself get completely worn down. Running on empty is never a good idea. Learn when to say enough is enough. When we’re over tired, we tend to feel bad about ourselves and we tend to neglect ourselves even further. Once in a while, take a day off, even half a day off - book a yoga class, get your hair done, go for brunch with a friend. You will feel much more like your best self again.
Care enough about yourself to make room in your life for the things you love. Do you make time in your life for the things that make you happy or do you just do the things your partner, friends, kids want to do? Whatever you love - horse riding, going to yoga festivals, cooking, photography – make room for it, don’t let your passions drift away.
Set boundaries: do you allow toxic habits, people and activities to sabotage your best life? If so, slowly and respectfully, start removing them. Think this one through carefully – it won’t happen overnight. For me, this meant looking at what was making me feel down and what was draining my energy – I have cut way back on social media, given up my morning coffee and my weekend glass or two of wine. Let’s see how it goes!!
Researching this blog, I’ve learnt that if you put yourself to the bottom of the pile, so will everyone else but if you treat yourself like someone worthy of love, your life will be happier and more fulfilling. My journey isn’t complete and never will be (self-love is a process, not a destination), but I have come a long way and I hope you will too.
This has been a long blog covering a lot of ground, maybe too much, so if you have stayed with me to the end, thank you for reading. I hope you have found it helpful and you have some inspiration and tips you can take away and put to use in your daily life. Let me know if any of them work for you - I’d love to know.
Much love as always