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The Importance of Self Love In Improving Your Mental Health

Self-love is important in improving mental health because it allows individuals to have a positive relationship with themselves, which can lead to increased self-esteem and a greater sense of well-being. When individuals practice self-love, they accept themselves for who they are, acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses, and treat themselves with kindness and compassion. With that being said, what does self-love look like? Is it the same for every person?

Self-love is the act of valuing and caring for yourself, including accepting yourself for who you are, acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses, and treating yourself with kindness, compassion, and respect. It involves developing a positive relationship with yourself, which can lead to improved mental health and overall well-being. Self-love can look different from person to person but some examples include:

  • Practicing self-care: This includes taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and engaging in activities and routines that bring joy and relaxation.

  • Setting healthy boundaries: This involves saying no to things that don't align with your values, needs, or goals, and communicating assertively and respectfully with others. There is a common misconception that saying no is typically a negative response however with boundary setting saying no to people, places and things that do not align with you is a positive response and one that reflects self-love.

  • Treating yourself with kindness and compassion: This includes being gentle with yourself, speaking kindly to yourself and practicing self-compassion when facing difficulties or setbacks. Positive self-talk and positive affirmations are a great way to practice compassion for oneself.

  • Celebrating your accomplishments: This involves recognizing and celebrating your achievements and successes, no matter how small they may be. Journaling and reflecting are great tools to help get into a routine of acknowledging and celebrating daily accomplishments.

  • Embracing your uniqueness: This includes accepting yourself for who you are, celebrating your strengths and weaknesses, and embracing your individuality and uniqueness. Society often promotes “norms” whether they be physical or mental which can lead to comparing yourself to others and an emphasis on one’s weaknesses. It is important to see both strengths and weaknesses as traits that make you both unique and valuable.

Research has shown that self-love and self-compassion are linked to better mental health outcomes. A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that individuals who practiced self-compassion had lower levels of anxiety and depression. It is important to remember that such changes are not necessarily linear and may require repetition and habit forming. Research also shows that those who practice self-love and self-compassion have better coping skills which can build resilience during times of stress and adversity. Additionally, those who practice self-love/self-compassion consistently have shown lower levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress.

Self-esteem and life satisfaction are two more important aspects of improving mental health. By practicing self-love and incorporating self-care into routines we can see a positive correlation between both self esteem and life satisfaction. Building self-esteem through self-love can also help with motivation and navigating challenging times.

There can be various barriers to practicing self-love which can look differently for everyone and be both internal and external. Self criticism or negative self talk is a common internal barrier. At times you may be overly critical of yourself, focusing on your flaws and weaknesses rather than your strengths. Perfectionism is similar, holding yourself to high standards and becoming self critical if you ever fall short. It is helpful to set realistic expectations and standards in order to prevent a feeling of disappointment.

Negative past experiences or trauma can also serve as a barrier at times, both internally and externally. Those who have experienced trauma or abuse within their lifetime may find it more difficult to practice self-love due to feelings of guilt, shame or self-blame. Additionally, cultural and societal messages can play a role in inhibiting self-love which may vary from person, culture or family. One example includes some cultures that may prioritize self-sacrifice and putting others’ needs before your own. This external influence can make it more difficult to prioritize self-love and self-care.

Despite the barriers, self-love is attainable and imperative in improving mental health. Empathy is often discussed and related to empathy towards others however empathy for oneself is equally as important. Being empathic towards yourself means treating yourself with the same kindness, understanding, and compassion that you would offer to a close friend or loved one. Besides taking care of your basic needs, practicing mindfulness and validating and acknowledging your emotions may help in cultivating empathy towards yourself. Regardless of the time it takes, always remember that growth is rarely linear and requires habit, repetition and patience. Be patient and kind with yourself as you work towards building a stronger foundation to improve your mental health.

Written by,

Jasmine Cruz, LPC



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