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.

Best Health - - CONTENTS - by JILL BUCH­NER

10 ways to show your­self some love


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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.


“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.”


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.”


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.

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