We put a lot of energy into caring for others but struggle to do something special for ourselves or even accept a compliment. Ladies, it’s time for a lesson in self-love.
10 ways to show yourself some love
PROMOTE POSITIVE TALK
We’ve all heard negative voices in our heads, but Jill Andrew, a body image advocate and co-founder of the Body Confidence Canada Awards, came up with a plan to quiet hers. It starts with a daily positive message: “I have a personal mantra: ‘I am a big, bright shining star and I’m going to shine forever,’” she says. “It sounds silly, but the importance of creating positive selftalk in a society where we’re encouraged to have a lot of negative talk is very important.” Next, to mitigate the negativity that feeds our internal dialogue, she surrounds herself with people who don’t talk down on themselves or others.
If you’re having trouble praising yourself, start by spreading compliments about others – something that research shows can boost your own self-esteem. Or try this: Host a dinner with your closest friends and have everyone around the table share one thing they admire about the woman sitting to their right (and leave appearance out of the convo).
CHANGE YOUR POSTURE
Katya Sivak, a registered clinical counsellor with a private practice in Vancouver, knows when clients are feeling low simply by their posture. The telltale sign? They slouch in their seats or let their heads hang. She likes to note their posture and have them reflect on how they feel in that stance. Then she asks them to pose like Superwoman, standing with their chests raised and hands on their hips. “It changes how your body feels,” she says. “It changes how you feel about yourself.” Some studies support the idea that taking on a powerful posture can have an impact on the way you feel. Sivak theorizes that it works because the body can recall moments when you naturally took on such a pose – like a time when you got a promotion and walked a little taller and with more confidence – and those positive associations come rushing back.
BUY YOURSELF A GIFT
That cute pair of sandals you’ve been eyeing? Buy them! And yes, you would like them gift-wrapped, thank you very much. After all, charity begins at home.
GO FOR A WALK
Sometimes the simplest things make the greatest gifts. Give yourself some time – whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour – to walk through a favourite park or neighbourhood and just be with your thoughts. Leave your fitness tracker at home – it’s OK for some things to be about enjoyment, not goals.
GIVE YOURSELF A MASSAGE
Regular massage is good for the skin and for the soul. Julie Clark, founder of the organic skincare brand Province Apothecary, treats herself to a nightly facial massage with a serum. It doesn’t just benefit the skin; it feels good, too. “It’s an act of kindness that can radiate through your body,” says Clark, “and people will notice that your skin looks brighter, healthier and more hydrated.” When people admire your new glow, say thank you and accept the compliment.
Realizing that you’re worthy of praise is an important part of selfacceptance.
SHARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS
Whether you spend an evening at a soup kitchen or become a Big Sister, volunteering has the unintended effect of improving how you feel about yourself. “When we have low self-esteem, we’re extremely focused on ourselves, like what we can or can’t do and how we look,” says Sivak. “Doing something for others switches the focus. You feel that you’re being of service and contributing to the world.”
CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET
OK, cleaning may not seem like the most self-celebratory act, but Andrew takes a sort of Marie Kondo approach. Just as the Japanese organizing consultant and author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up suggests that we purge items that don’t bring us joy, Andrew rids her home of things that bring her down. Many of us are hanging on to clothes that no longer fit, hoping that we’ll lose those last 10 pounds and wear them again. “Our wardrobes are often tombs to pieces that have died years ago,” she says. “They’re usually pieces that have negativity attached to them. It’s a reminder of what we haven’t accomplished.” Andrew banishes those items from her closet and donates them to a shelter, where they can bring happiness to someone else.
COOK SOMETHING SPECIAL
“Experiment with a dish that you’ve been dreaming of creating, and do it for yourself,” says Andrew. “Don’t save it for a dinner party because then it’s for someone else.”
LET IT ALL HANG OUT
Andrew says that one of the best – and most fun – ways to celebrate yourself and your body is to dance naked. “When you see your body move and find your own humour in dancing around naked, it really allows you to build a closer connection with who you are,” she says. Whether you do your own version of the Risky Business dance or bust a move in the shower, you’ll feel the joy of being in your body, not critiquing it. Andrew – whose best dances happen to the tune of Katy Perry hits – says it’s about losing your inhibitions and letting your body breathe. “As women, we’re encouraged to wear all these garments and contraptions to keep our tummies in and our thighs toned and to not take up space,” she says. “There’s something to be said for just letting it all hang out and taking up as much space as we’d like to.”
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
Unplug from social media and you’ll love yourself for it. A 2016 study found that regularly looking at others’ selfies lowers self-esteem and life satisfaction.