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“As a doctor, let me tell you what self-love does: It improves your hearing, your eyesight, lowers your blood pressure, increases pulmonary function, cardiac output, and helps wiring the musculature. So, if we had a rampant epidemic of self-love then our healthcare costs would go down dramatically. So, this isn’t just some little frou-frou new age notion, oh love yourself honey. This is hardcore science.”
Dr. Christiane Northrop, Hungry for Change

I used to think that being self-loving meant being selfish and egotistical.

I didn’t realize until recently that it simply meant respecting and taking care of yourself the best way that you can. I wish someone had told me when I was a teenager that one of the most healing things you can do for your mind, body and soul is to take your happiness out of people’s hands and find it within yourself.

Last year, crippled with depression and heartbreak, I decided to begin a self-love journey that has healed me in ways I never imagined. The answer wasn’t to do more or be more; rather, it was to strip myself of all my insecurity and self-hatred and let my soul breathe. I think of self-love as a fuel tank. The more I invest love into myself, the more passion I had to love others and love life. Here are just 19 ways to be more self-loving, ways that I have been tried and true for me personally. This list is not conclusive – add in things that make you happy. Make it a point to show yourself some love everyday, no matter how big or small it is.

1. Be around nature. Take a long drive by yourself to a beach you love but haven’t been to in a while, or find a nice hiking trail and go on an adventure by yourself. There’s nothing quite like spending one on one time with nature and letting your soul be.

2. Dance with no care in the world. It might make someone laugh or smile – even maybe yourself.

3. Take a long, hot bubble bath. With candles, music and a good book.

4. Laugh like crazy. Watch a movie that will make tears roll down your cheeks from laughter, or spend time with a funny friend. When your stomach hurts from too much laughing and you always end up spitting your food out, you know you’re doing it right.

5. Sit in front of a mirror. And instead of cringing or letting the critical person in your head start talking, list the things you love about your body. Say them out loud. By doing this, you can train your mind to love your body.

6. Surround yourself with only those who lift you up. One of the best ways to start loving yourself is to remove the negative, toxic people in your life and surround yourself with people who uplift you instead. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, “Don’t waste your time with people who have shown you they really mean no good for you.”

7. Take care of your body and eat good food. Do it not because you hate your body, but because you love it. Do it not to get skinny, but to get healthy. Do it not to impress people, but to love yourself.

8. Write love letters to people. One of the most beautiful forms of self-love is seeing the best in people, because when you love yourself, you love people so much better. We think so many wonderful things about people but never tell them – write them all down and let your loved ones know how much they mean to you.

9. Don’t be afraid of what other people think of you.  Life’s too short to blend in or to save that dress for ‘special occasions.’

10. Spend time writing in a journal. Sometimes, when you put pen to paper, it speaks louder than words ever could. Write down all your feelings – your anger, your sadness, your joys and your frustrations. Write with no boundaries and write with no fear.

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11. Treat yourself. Just as you would buy a thoughtful gift for a loved one every now and again, doing that for yourself is no different. Whether it’s buying fun make-up (like me) or treating yourself to a pamper day, on days when you feel like you need a little self-love, anything that makes you feel like a princess is always a good thing.

12. Don’t settle for second best. The best thing I did for my love life was to write down a list of what a guy had to have to be the right guy for me. A couple of my must-haves include, ‘Passionate,’ and ‘Loves God more than he loves me.’ By doing this, you eliminate those who just aren’t worth your time and you put yourself in a position to be blessed by only the best.

13. Take yourself on a date. I think every girl should do this at least once in her life.

14. Light candles and listen to your favorite music. As a bonus, pick up a good book and just relax. I recommend playing Bon Iver too.

15. Be done with superficial media. One of the most healing things I ever did for my self-esteem was take down all the posters in my room of fashion editorials and models that I aspired to be like. I threw out the hundreds of magazines I had collected over so many years. I also stopped reading trashy gossip sites and tabloid magazines. What the media inputs into your life is so negative, damaging and superficial that it thrives on your low self-esteem. When you throw all of that out of your life, it is a great stride to self-love and self-acceptance.

16. Be silly. Nothing says self-love more obviously than a girl who knows how to laugh at herself. Life is hard for everyone, but it’s things like these that remind everyone, including yourself, that there is a lot to smile about too.

17. Travel. Whether you travel overseas, road trip to the next town, or even just plan your dream holiday, let your wanderlust and the explorer in you take over. Seeing new places, experiencing new things and meeting new people will open up your world to the truth that life is so much more wonderful than you can ever imagine.

18. Get off the wrong path. I have always, always believed that a good indication that you’re on the wrong path in life is if you feel heavy or depressed doing it everyday. Self-love is respecting that your life is far too fleeting to waste your time doing things or being around people that don’t make you come alive.

19. Start making those dreams into a reality. Out of all the things on this list, when I did this particular one, it was when I really felt I was loving myself the most. When I visualized what I wanted to be (the founder of this organization, a writer, a motivational speaker, a jet-setting hippie) and finally took baby steps to make them into a reality, I slowly came more alive within myself. It awoke in me my potential to be the best version of myself I could possibly be. Your dreams deserve to become a reality, but the only thing stopping you from accomplishing them is you. Ask yourself if this is where you want to be in life, and if not, make baby steps to turn the life you want into the life you’re living. The capacity for your dreams to come alive is dependent solely on your determination to make them happen!

 “Our hearts need to feed on beauty to sustain them. We need times of solitude and silence. We need times of refreshment and laughter and rest. We need to listen to the voice of God in our hearts as he tells us what we need.”
Staci Eldridge, Captivating

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Both images via Gala Darling