If you treated others the way you treat yourself, would people want to be around you?

For many of us, the answer is no. When it comes to taking care of ourselves, our behaviors can be damaging to our physical and mental health. We neglect our bodies. We ignore the signs of stress and exhaustion. We deprive ourselves of what we deserve. We are our own worst critic.

We deserve better.

Self-love is not narcissistic, but rather a strong regard for our own well-being and happiness. Self-love supports our physical, psychological and spiritual growth to improve our quality of life. When we start with self-love, we learn to accept our weaknesses along with our strengths, have compassion for ourselves and our world, align more closely with our values and immerse ourselves in the love that surrounds us.

Research published in the journal Health Psychology suggests that self-compassion promotes the practice of better health decisions. While many believe that self-criticism is the best motivation, this area of research suggests that building yourself up and practicing self-love leads to the healthiest physical and mental health actions.

Now, how do we love ourselves?

While self-love is different for everyone, there are several ways that self-love can be incorporated into our daily routine. Here are 5 ways to practice self-love:

  • Practice self-care. Taking care of your basic needs is essential to giving love to your mind and body. Engage in healthy activities such as daily exercise, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and healthy social interactions. If you can nourish your body with these practices, you will experience an improvement in your physical and mental health.
  • Exercise positive thinking. Positive thoughts will lead to positive actions. Practicing positive self-talk and being our own best cheerleader is more effective than being our own worst critic. Record your strengths and accomplishments in a journal, or recite mantras that encourage self-love. Keep your thoughts kind, not cruel.
  • Surround yourself with the right people. We may not always realize it, but sometimes our “friends” do not encourage our self-love. They may take pleasure in our pain, rather than our happiness. Surround yourself with those who encourage you to be the best version of yourself and show you respect.
  • Be mindful. Those who are mindful are more aware of how they think and feel in the present moment. Mindfulness-based practices will allow you to gain new perspectives and release negative emotions. These practices can be done anywhere and there are many online guides to help you. At recharj, a premier mindfulness studio in Washington, D.C., we offer classes that teach you how to be mindful and allow you to experience the benefits of mindfulness.
  • Forgive yourself.As human beings, we will make mistakes. While we must take responsibility for our actions, we must also learn to not be too hard on ourselves. Before you can love yourself, you must accept your imperfections and acknowledge that you will make mistakes. These mistakes are okay and will provide you with a chance to grow and learn.

Even if you only practice one or two of these actions a day, you can grow in kindness towards yourself. If we can learn to love ourselves, we improve our relationships with others and can lead a happier and healthier life.

Originally published at www.recharj.com on January 27, 2017.

Originally published at medium.com