There seems to be a lot of talk these days about self-love – and that’s a wonderful thing! For too long, our culture has been making many of us feel like we’re not good enough, like we’re not reaching the bar when it comes to beauty and success. So any dialog that helps us achieve a greater sense of self-acceptance is a step in the right direction.

But what does self-love really mean? For a lot of us, when we hear the term “self-love,” we imagine slender, gorgeous yoginis wearing long, flowing robes chanting together against a backdrop of pristine, natural beauty. But the truth is, self-love is something that we can implement in our messy, day-to-day lives. It’s not about believing ourselves to be the image of perfection. Quite the opposite, actually. It’s about having compassion for ourselves and realizing that we have challenges, just like everyone else, but that doesn’t mean we’re broken. It’s about understanding that we are whole human beings who are deserving of love exactly as we are – there’s noting we have to change about ourselves to become worthy of acceptance.

What’s more, self-love can have real impacts on our physical health. Here are just a few.

It helps you eat better

So often, when we’re not feeling great about ourselves, we diet, count calories, and put ourselves through punishing workouts in order to lose weight. Many times, we do this because we feel that we need to lose weight or have a particular kind of body in order to gain love and acceptance.

The result is often that we begin eating highly processed “diet” foods that contain all kinds of artificial additives – or, we simply stop listening to our body wisdom. One of the best ways to know what foods support our unique biological and emotional needs is to pay attention to how our bodies feel after our meals. Do the foods we’ve eaten sit in our bellies? Do they make us feel stuffed and sluggish? Or satisfied and energetic? Rigidly following a diet in order to lose weight or keep the pounds off frequently causes us to deprive ourselves of the foods that could be most healing for us. On the other hand, learning to love ourselves will allow us to tune in to our body wisdom and discover ways of eating that truly support our needs.

It helps us discover physical activities we enjoy

Just like our diets, our exercise routines are often informed by the degree to which we accept ourselves. Frequently, when we’re working out to lose weight, we opt for the types of exercise that we think will burn the most calories or body fat as quickly as possible – whether we enjoy them or not. One of two things tends to happen in these situations. Either we push our bodies too hard an injure ourselves, in which case we may be unable to workout for a period of time, or we burn out and simply stop exercising because we dread doing it every day.

But when we have a greater degree of acceptance for ourselves, we choose forms of exercise that we love – that light us up and make us feel great. We don’t choose our workouts based simply on what will supposedly help us lose the most weight or tone up. Yes, CrossFit will help you burn calories faster than a walk in the park with your dog. But if you don’t like CrossFit and you genuinely love spending time with your dog, a walk in the park is probably a better option. When we actually enjoy what we’re doing, we’re able to sustain our workout routines over the long-term.

It reduces your stress

When we’re not accepting ourselves – not agreeing to live our lives as the people we truly are – then we’re in a chronic state of stress. And we all know about the plethora of negative health consequences that result from chronic stress. But when we realize it’s perfectly acceptable to be our authentic selves, then we strop trying to be something we’re not, and a great deal of stress falls away.

So, how do you go about learning to love yourself? It can sometimes be a long process, and a great therapist, coach, or health practitioner can be a wonderful resource. But here’s a helpful exercise to get you started:

The next time you’re experiencing negative thoughts or feelings about yourself, take a deep breath, and bring to mind the way you interact with your best friend. Would you be as critical and judgmental towards your best friend as you are towards yourself? Of course not! So counteract the belittling thoughts that are coming up with compassion, just as you would do if it were your best friend being critical of herself. You deserve the same kindness you give to others.

For more information, visit her blog:  SarahCookeCoaching.com

Writer: Sarah Cooke    Twitter: @Sarah_L_Cooke

Photographer: Semra Sevin

Thanks for the support and love 🙂    Your REglam Team xx

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