How to Practice Self Love After a History of Depression
Learning how to practice self love isn’t always easy. It sounds so simple in theory but in reality we all have those days where we feel less than our best.
Practicing self love is so vital to finding personal and emotional fulfillment. Why does it feel so hard to do something this important? This question is very personal to me because I struggle with learning how to practice self love consistently. I have my good and bad days but I realized the importance of giving yourself grace and taking baby steps.
From The Ask Your Good Sis Google Form:
Practice self care through positive affirmations
Similar to what I said in the piece about confronting and overcoming fatphobia, recognize and celebrate your strengths. Each day, list ten qualities you love about yourself. Nothing physical. Ex) your determination, intelligence, compassion, etc…
Take a hard look in the mirror
Some days, I just stand and look in the mirror for five minutes to get comfortable with what I see. Now that I’m exercising more frequently, I do this to appreciate my body at every stage. I love my little tummy rolls, my hip dips, my legs (my legs are poppin’ tho ngl), my pancake ass, everything. Some days I might have a harder time accepting myself but other days, I love looking at myself so much I literally wink back at my reflection.
Pick a few things you genuinely love about your body. It could be your smile, your butt, your eyebrows, even something incredibly specific like the evenness of your toes. Regardless of how strange you think it is, find a few things you appreciate about yourself.
Take cute (unfiltered) pictures to practice self love
In this social media age, it’s even easier to compare yourself to everyone you see on the timeline. I’m here to tell you all you really need are lighting and angles and you can give anyone a run for their money. I’m lucky because one of my really good friends is a dope photographer. He is quite literally responsible for 75% of the pictures on in my Instagram, including the cover image of this article.
I actually use my Instagram as a way to practice self love. I hold myself accountable and only post unfiltered pictures. My Instagram only has pictures of me that I truly love. I’ve said this before but “wearapy” is real. Dress up. Look cute to the point where you can’t stop looking at yourself and really soak that feeling in.
You are always this poppin’ regardless. Remember that.
It’s okay to recognize your faults
Learning how to practice self love is not just about taking cute pictures and wearing face masks. You can confront the parts of yourself you don’t love as much and figure out why. Do you feel this way because of overt negativity and criticism or is this something you genuinely want to change.
For example: I can say that I love how passionately I love people and my loyalty. However, I can also recognize my need to heal my attachment style.
We can practice self love with a growth and healing mindset. The goal is not perfection. Nothing is ever perfect. I’ve learned to view perfection as the “will to refine” instead of being without flaw. You are perfect just the way you are. Take those moments of self reflection and change accordingly, but do this with tenderness and love to yourself.
Not every negative thought you have is valid. Recognize the difference between valid self-criticism and negativity.
You are always growing
Nothing in life stays the same and neither will you. Learning how to practice self love means being comfortable with the journey. Understand that you are always changing and evolving. Water the seeds of your future with a positive mindset. This doesn’t mean to start giving into toxic positivity either though. Emotions like anger, sadness, fear, worry, anxiety are all normal. Learn how to deal with them and don’t allow them to overcome you.
Speak light and love into your life. Instead of saying, “I’m so dumb, I don’t understand this” say “This is confusing me but I will understand it. I am capable of understanding it.” Instead of saying “I’m so broke” say, “I don’t have this money now but I will soon (that was a tip from my reader @triniricanbruja). Don’t allow your worries to manifest into your reality and into your thoughts about your self worth.
Practice self love through your inner child
Lately, I’ve been trying to speak to myself the way I’d speak to my five year old self if she were right in front of me. Don’t say things that would make yourself cry. For example: if you were to go back in time and come face to face with your childhood self, you’d never call them ugly or smart or unworthy. It wouldn’t feel good. Don’t do that to yourself now.
Speak with love and tenderness to your inner child. Your words are powerful and they become your reality. Speak positivity into your life. You are worthy of everything good and wonderful in the world.
Take at least 20 minutes for yourself
You always have 20 minutes to give yourself. Dr. Rachel Levy-Bell said this in one of my podcast episodes and I love it so much. Personally, when I feel anxious, I color and watch something on Disney+. This brings me joy. Find what you love to do. If you love sewing, set aside a specific time of your day where you sit and sew while listening to your favorite album.
Be okay with having down days
Some days, no matter what you do, you can feel down in the dumps. On these days, confront the feeling, sit in it and rest. I promise you it will pass.
My anxiety and depression run on a loop each month and some days, no matter what I do, I can’t get out of the feeling. I just try to take it slow and give myself comfort. That could mean not being upset at myself for spending the day in bed or watching a cheesy Disney movie, I try to quiet my mind and my spirit. Meditation is also helpful. I’m trying to work on that more.
Then, when I come out of that feeling and go back to my normal, I recognize any destructive thoughts and I release them. I know they’re not true and I know they don’t define me.
Learning how to practice self love is a journey, take it one step at a time
This can feel overwhelming to recognize and that’s okay. Each day you work towards actively changing your mindset about how you think about yourself is a success. Celebrate the small victories. It’s okay if you stumble. Know that you’ll get back up again. I know you will.