Recently, a massive change happened in my life and it made me realise that for a long time, I have not loved myself. Worse, I’ve been actively hating on myself.
I am a massive perfectionist; I know it. And for the most part, it has helped me achieve things that I don’t think I would have done without the need to be perfect propelling me forward. But it has also made me focus on all the aspects of my life that aren’t perfect. I have scrutinised my life, my decisions, my actions, my body and my thoughts, day in and day out for as long as I can remember; trying to make every single thing I do absolutely perfect. Because perfection means happiness, right? If I’m perfect then I won’t have anything to worry about – no problems, no stress. But I was miserable. Nothing was ever enough. No achievement was great enough because there was always something more that could be done. I was stuck in this never-ending cycle of always striving for the next thing, the next thing, the next thing and never stopping to appreciate what I had already achieved.
My confidence was at rock bottom. I was terrified of meeting new people because I was worried about how they might judge me. I couldn’t work because I was so worried about not getting things perfect first time that I almost gave up trying. I was frustrated because I couldn’t run as far or as fast as I wanted to. I was punishing my body for not being lean enough. I had to make a change.
And so, I started focussing on myself. I cleansed my life of the things that were getting me down; the things that were making me feel inadequate. This wasn’t easy (actually, it was possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done), but doing this made me realise just how much harm all these things were doing to my mental health. And all of a sudden, it feels like a veil has been lifted; like I’m finally breathing fresh air. I feel like I’m finally looking at myself and at a life that is full of positivity and potential. Best of all, I feel like I am loving myself again. And here’s what I have been doing:
Loving Yourself: Daily Rituals
1) Get out of bed with purpose
DON’T SNOOZE THE ALARM! This has been a major thing for me. Snoozing the alarm gives me time to think about all the reasons why I don’t want to get out of bed and makes me feel so lethargic. By springing out of bed when the alarm goes off you are making a positive choice to engage with the day. Feelings follow actions, so making confident movements first thing in the morning sets up a confident attitude towards the day.
2) Remind yourself that you’re great
Right after I spring out of bed, I jump straight in the shower and whilst I am washing my poor sleepy face I think about the things that I like about myself or that I’m looking forward to about the day. It might be looking forward to the workout I’m going to do later, or thinking the new outfit that I look hot AF in, or appreciating all the wonderful friends I have in my life. Focussing on these thoughts first thing in the morning stops me getting worried about the little stresses I might have coming up and reminds me that my life is pretty cool after all.
3) Fuel your body
Yeah yeah yeah, we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day but did you also know it’s the most delicious?! I guess that’s kind of personal preference but I can’t tell you how much enjoyment I get out of experimenting with breakfast in the morning. Try really listening to your body and engaging with what it needs; sometimes I wake up starving and really needing a big bowl of porridge, other days I am craving something super nutritious and will make a fruit-and-veg-packed smoothie. I always make sure I have fresh fruit in the house for breakfast to make sure I start getting my 5-a-day in nice and early. If you feel like you don’t have time for breakfast, think about making overnight oats or chia pudding the night before that you can chuck some peanut butter and berries on on your way out the door. Your body will thank you, I promise.
4) Take time out for yourself
I can often find myself rushing around non-stop during the day, or I end up burying my head in my work for hours on end without properly resting. But REST IS SO IMPORTANT. And I don’t just mean physical rest; your brain needs a break too – a break from concentrating and a break from worrying. Take half an hour to sit down with a coffee and a book, or a cookie and some trashy TV or go for a little walk or paint your nails and pamper yourself or do some yoga or tidy your desk or bake something – anything that makes you forget about ‘the now’ for a while and focus on you. I find the best way to make sure I fit ‘me time’ in and to not feel guilty about it, is to schedule it in. Maybe it’s at 11 o’clock every day, maybe it’s just after lunch, maybe it’s right before bed. Whenever it is, commit to it; don’t check your emails, don’t think about work, just slow down and breathe.
5) Move your body
Run, cycle, walk, lift weights, swim, go shopping, tidy the house, clean your car, dance to some cheesy music, follow a ‘how-to’ yoga video on YouTube, do anything that gets your heart beating a little faster. For me, exercise makes me stop worrying for a while and focus on how my body feels. Moving my body makes me appreciate everything it can do. I think we often forget about our bodies; they do everything for us, they carry through our lives, they are our only constant homes – doing exercise might help you appreciate yours a little bit more (a few days of DOMS definitely makes me appreciate all the days my body doesn’t ache like hell!).
6) Go easy on yourself
Didn’t get everything done you wanted to today? Made some mistakes? So what. We are all human and almost nothing in life is irreversible. Life is unpredictable, that’s what makes it exciting. Things get in the way. But there is always time to pick up the things that didn’t quite get done. One thing that I’m really trying hard to teach myself is that I can’t expect perfection all the time; I haven’t failed as a human being just because I haven’t ticked off everything on my to-do list. There are more important things in life.
7) Engage with others
Spread love. Meet your friends, talk to strangers, call your family. It’s these interactions with others that give our life meaning outside of what is going on inside our own heads. The more I spend time in the company of others, the more my own worries pale into insignificance – talking things through with my friends, or ignoring them altogether for a while works wonders on putting things in perspective. Also, there is nothing like being stupid with my friends for pulling me out of a bad mood.
Doing these few things every day is making me feel like a brand-new person. I am so much happier than I was a few months ago and I’m putting it down to finally giving myself the care and attention I need. Maybe you’ve been doing a similar thing. Maybe you’ve got another way of filling your days with self-love – if so, I would LOVE to hear about it! Leave a comment below or message me on Instagram; this beautiful community is the most supportive I have ever come across, and I can’t thank you all enough for the love you exude every single day.