There are so many habits everyone knows would help them live their best life, from exercising more to calling mom to going easy on the credit cards. But somehow they all slip into the “sure, maybe tomorrow” category. Self-love is the same way, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of thinking of it as a positive concept you should do, sometime, maybe, consider it well within reach. As in, actions you should take that demonstrate you love yourself. If you’re not in the habit, remember all the benefits of treating yourself right, from better health to reduced stress and stronger relationships. If you’re at a loss to know where to start, here’s good news. These eight tips are all self-love habits you can start right now.
Talk back when you hear self-criticism
Call it your mind’s roommate, the devil on your shoulder or your mother’s voice, but all of us are full of self-incriminating remarks. Whether they have to do with appearance, work performance or personal relationships, it’s all too easy to talk bad to yourself. Does this sound familiar? “Of course they didn’t ask me to the happy hour, who would?” “Ugh, that sounded so stupid.” “This is the homeliest outfit I ever saw.” To be brutally honest, that interior monologue has got to stop. To thwart it, try this technique: When the negative remarks start flowing, ask yourself, “Do I have factual evidence that supports what I’m saying?” Follow that with, “If my best friend were here, would she contradict me on this? Just what would she say to me?” Once you have a better self-talk script going, use it. And the very next time you start talking yourself down, use it again.
Part of cherishing yourself is being aware when your energy is at a low ebb. A good way to prevent that is making it a point to move around a bit throughout the day. Ideally, you can at least stretch or walk to the water cooler and back once every 90 minutes or so. Or take a full 10 minutes to walk the steps or the parking lot and really get your energy revved. If you’re at home working or parenting most of the day, the burst of activity could be a quick one-person dance routine to a favorite song. Only takes three minutes!
Update your “I did it!” list daily
Make it known to yourself that you love the path you’re on by creating a simple “I did it!” list and updating it at the same place and time every single day. These pats on the back can be small, like “finally polished my shoes,” or large, like “finally told my aunt to quit asking me when I am going to have kids.” The list is also great to look back on when you’re having a bad day and need to remember how awesome you are.
Don’t go it alone
The Happiness Advantage author Shawn Anchor advises anyone seeking long-term happiness to hang out with other positive people, be they a life coach, mentor or just someone who actively practices gratitude. Starting today, be sure to seek out the upbeat person at work or exercise class, instead of buddying up with that naysayer who just gives you new reasons to worry.
Stop “shoulding” at yourself
This “shoulding” idea is the term psychologist Albert Ellis coined to describe the destruction done when you constantly tell yourself you “should” something. This can cover a lot of ground, from “should” wear make-up, act older, have bought a house by now.
To counter this powerful thought process, start right now. When you catch the word “should” in your internal monologue (or conversation with someone else), politely insist that you don’t treat your self-worth so poorly. Also, ask yourself if you can reword the “should” another way. Soon the rewording will become a habit.
Take a walk before you log on
Bouncing awake and heading straight to check texts or read social media is a great way to tell yourself it’s more important what others have for you to do than what you’ve got in mind for yourself. Instead, leave the computer off when you awake until you’ve had time to walk for 20 minutes. Also, set your phone not to give you any notifications until a half hour or so after the time you ordinarily rise. That will give you time to clear your head, get a bit of fresh air and maybe absorb some Vitamin D with a helpful stroll around the block. Ignoring technology first thing in the morning won’t be easy the first couple of times, but you’re worth it.
Let in a little less noise
Constant background audio can really stress you out and you may have gotten to the point where it doesn’t even register anymore. To lovingly start creating boundaries to eliminate some jarring noise pollution from your everyday life, start by muting the television or radio when you’re not actually engaged. Unless it’s the Super Bowl, always do this during the extra-loud commercials. And be sure to bring along your earplugs if you’ll be at the doctor’s or hair stylist’s and might encounter a loud television in the waiting area.
Start with whichever idea is easiest for you
Just this once, put off whatever’s most difficult for you and zone right in on the self-love habit that will be simplest for you. Whether that’s remembering to stretch after you worked on the laptop for two hours or sitting down next to that kindly co-worker in the next office meeting, you’ll know what to do. Isn’t that just another thing to love about you?