It can be so easy for young people, especially young women to forget who they are and to stop feeding themselves the positive energy that they need to love themselves. I am a firm believer of ‘loving yourself first’ and I have experienced first hand how hard and upsetting it can be to lose yourself altogether and to fall out of love with you.
So a little bit of background on me before we jump in. Earlier this year I found myself extremely withdrawn, nervous and quite frankly feeling sick and exhausted every single day. Having gone through a similar situation some time ago, I knew I had to contact my doctor straight away as these feelings where having such a huge impact on my everyday life.
I was calling in to work sick at least twice a month taking countless days on end off to sit at home and do nothing. Every single time I looked at myself in the mirror I was getting frustrated at the person I had become and I just didn’t LOVE the person I saw staring back at me every morning. In turn, I had to leave work and as you can imagine, that made me feel less than useless and with a house to run and bills to pay I became more and more worried and uncertain about my future. That is when my doctor referred me to CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for anxiety.
I completed CBT a few weeks ago now and although I am still not feeling 100% on top of my game, I was definitely given some great advise which has helped me a lot. Today I want to share my top 10 tips on how to fall back in love with yourself with the hopes that I can help even one person and to raise awareness so that young people do not have to feel like I did for so long.
- Exercise (No, I did not say extra fries!)
If there is one thing that I have learned from this experience, it is how important implementing some form of daily exercise in your routine can be. I know, I know, nobody actually enjoys exercising right? WRONG! A lot of people out there actually really love exercising. What I am NOT telling you is that you should be going to the gym for hours on end or preparing for a marathon every day, however, exercising for at least 1 hour every day has been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on your mood. This is because when you exercise, your body releases endorphin’s which in turn, triggers a positive feeling into your body. I started off walking along the beach for 1 hour every day and honestly, the improvement that I seen from this step alone was insane. Try it, I dare you!
2. Social (What?! But I Don’t Wanna Get Out of Bed?!)
How often do you ever return home from having a coffee with friends, or shopping with grandma and think to yourself ‘well, I’m never doing that again.’ While I am aware that this actually can be the reality for some people, the majority of people enjoy spending time with their loved ones. At the start of the year, I really didn’t want to spend any time with my friends or family as I felt like I was burdening them with my problems, but that is not the case at all. Cutting yourself off from the people that you love will only make you feel worse. Get up, dress up and show up no matter how you feel. Live by this motto. I promise you, after spending a few hours catching up with the girls over lunch (and possibly a cocktail or two!) you will be glad that you made the effort.
You know that overwhelming sense of pride that you get when you finally accomplish that one thing you have been working on for months? Yes, well prepare to feel like that every single day. Feeling accomplished about at least one thing that you have done every day is key in helping you to love yourself again. A lot of the time we only ponder on the negative things in our lives or the things that we haven’t managed to complete, but looking at the tiniest little every day tasks differently can actually make you feel really good about yourself. For example, you wake up tomorrow morning (after reading this awesome blog post of course!) and remember that you need to do the laundry. Do it! Do the laundry and when its done, praise yourself for finishing it. You manage to wake up early and complete your one hour of exercise by 10am? Feel accomplished by this and do not feel bad about praising yourself for minimal things.
4. Write Down Your Thoughts
So you wake up, have breakfast and get ready to leave for work when all of a sudden, you can’t go. Your brain is telling you that for some reason or other, you physically cannot go to work today. Write it down. You find yourself crying because you don’t feel good about yourself today? Write it down. Write down every negative thought that you have for a few weeks and then read over them. By writing down your thoughts you are allowing yourself to keep track of the situations in which you are feeling this way and also giving yourself another method of releasing the negative feeling. At the end of each day/week/month, whichever you find more beneficial, analyse your thoughts. Figure out the pattern and ask yourself at what point in the day or during which activity does this happen?
5. Rational Thinking
So, after writing down your negative thoughts and analysing them, it is important that you review them. Ask yourself why you feel that way? Is there a valid reason for you to feel that way? and Is there proof that what you are thinking about yourself is true? In my case, before I went into work every morning, I was panicking and my thought was ‘I just can’t do this.’ So I followed the process above. Why did I feel that way? Well, truthfully, I hated my job. That is why I felt like I couldn’t attend. Was there a valid reason for me to feel that way? Well, yes and no. The fact that I hated my job in my opinion was a valid enough reason for me to not want to go but the reasons why I hated my job where not valid at all. And the proof that what I was thinking was true? Simple, It wasn’t true. I had went into work every single day for over year before I started feeling this way so there was no proof at all that I couldn’t do it. It is so important to follow this step, especially when your negative thoughts are about you as a person as you may to start to believe things about yourself that are just simply untrue.
6. Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone
If you continue to follow the same routine as you did when you got into this rut, you’re more than likely not going to start feeling any better. Try new things, put yourself into situations where you feel uncomfortable and force yourself to try things that give you the negative thoughts. Follow the same steps for each situation. I attended a Zumba class alone, this a few months ago would have been my worst nightmare however, I really enjoyed myself. Sure, before I left my house to go I felt awful but I actually met a lot of amazing new people and as I continue to go I feel more and more relaxed each time. Also, not to mention that attending a fitness class helped me with tip 1 and 2.
Seems pretty simple right? Breathing. I was actually surprised to learn how controlled breathing can calm you down in a panicked or stressful situation. When you are feeling anxious or nervous about a task, breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold it for 3 seconds and then breathe out through your mouth for 7 seconds. Continue to do this and practise this regularly as it can really help you to feel relaxed. When you feel relaxed you can then think rationally about the situation at hand.
8. Know What You Want, Set Goals
I was asked in one of my sessions what I wanted for myself in the short, mid and long term and to be brutally honest, I didn’t even know. I had let myself get to a point where I no longer knew what I wanted from my life and I can tell you, that is a very difficult place to be. My doctor had me go home and write down 4 things that I wanted to achieve in the short term (1+ years), mid term (5+ years), and long term (10-20+ years) and after completing this, I already felt that my life was slowly putting itself back together. I urge you to write down and set goals for yourself either weekly, monthly or even yearly so that you are constantly working towards achieving something. If you don’t know what you want, how are you supposed to get it?
This one seems pretty obvious, do something that you love. Use all your senses, take a bubble bath with smelly candles, put on some fluffy pj’s and snuggle up on the sofa with your favourite blanket to watch your favourite movie and eat your favourite chocolate. Listen to your favourite music and dance around the kitchen. I cannot stress this enough DO THINGS THAT YOU LOVE! This tip in a sense is a way of rewarding yourself for exercising, socialising and accomplishing your goals. If you don’t reward yourself, your achievements become pointless so ensure that you are doing at least one thing that you love every single day!
10. Its Okay not to be Okay
Last but by no means least, please remember that it’s okay to have a bad day. Do not beat yourself up if you don’t make it for your walk that day or if you let your negative thoughts get the best of you. It is okay not to be okay sometimes. If you’re feeling emotional and you need to cry, cry. If all you want is a cuddle from your mum, go get a cuddle from your mum. If you want to spend some time alone, spend some time alone. Do whatever it takes and always always always remember that there is always an ear somewhere willing to listen. (Including me!)
I really hope that this post can benefit some of you and I would also encourage anyone who may be struggling with their mental health to talk to someone be it a parent, friend, sibling, doctor or complete stranger. My ‘contact me’ page is also available to everyone who visits this blog and if you ever need to talk please please please DO NOT HESITATE to use this tool. I am always willing to listen.