One question that I get asked, is how do you cultivate self-love? Self-love is something inherently subjective, meaning that only you can decide what works for you in terms of loving yourself. So, I thought I’d ask some of my favourite body positive advocates what they do to keep positive, keep smiling and keep on loving themselves.
Self-love is a journey. A fun, exciting and challenging lesson that never leaves you, but indefinitely, it requires work over time. I’m not completely immune to the negative comments that get thrown my way, and there are some days where I find it difficult to pin down my self-love and keep it from wriggling away. But I’ve found that what works for me on days like this, is doing something that I love. I blog, I spend time with positive people, I go for a walk, I do yoga, I cuddle my cats, I listen to Elvis – and sometimes it could just be something as simple as getting a good nights sleep. Self-love can be learned, and once learned, it won’t abandon you – it just might need a little helping hand sometimes.
GEORGINA HORNE (a.k.a. FullerFigureFullerBust)
I definitely have days where I feel awful – about life, my body, my abilities. I guess we all do. Sometimes I just wallow in it. I cry, eat chocolate and snuggle my pet rats whilst they struggle out of my teary embrace. But there are other things I do to try to snap me out of my funk…Exercise, pampering, switching off from social media, phoning a friend, going for a drive, a good nights sleep, eating something yummy, making plans and tarting myself up.
(Taken with permission from Georgina’s blog post ‘A Little Pick Me Up‘).
Cultivating self love can be difficult some days. The worst times often include the few days before my period or the night after a huge pasta meal! Those days where you feel sluggish and heavy can be the most disheartening. And it’s on those days that I remind myself that I must approach my insecurities logically. What is my body doing right now? Why do I feel uncomfortable? Most importantly why I am I punishing myself for it? I “detox” first thing – by that I mean I drink lots of water. Secondly, I dance, naked. Thirdly I remind myself that this will pass and in a week I’ll be okay again. That my insecurities are simply the voices of a society that insists on shaming women’s bodies. I grew up in a panoramic prison that markets the idea that I will never be good enough. My body’s natural functions are disgusting and that I should feel ashamed for having days when I don’t feel so light on my feet. When I think about the roots of this body shaming phenomena, I am reminded that the reason it’s ingrained so deeply in my psyche is because consumer culture profits from my insecurities. That on the days I feel heavy, I am sold all manners of detoxifying teas, cranberry juice, liposuction and colonic irrigation. The days my skin breaks out because I live in a city dense with pollution, I’m sold face wash, blackhead removers, face masks, tea tree oil, Botox and scrubs. The days where my hair is dry I’m sold overpriced hair masks, expensive shampoos and conditioners, oils, hairsprays, serums and creams. The overarching reality is that society wants you to believe that if you aren’t fragrant and beautiful and flawless is that no one will want to have sex with you. No one will love you and no one will want to be around you. And that is why I choose to rebel. That is why I protect my body on the days it feels less light, less smooth and less slender. That is why loving yourself is the ultimate revolution.
JEWELZ MAZZEI (a.k.a. JewelzJourney)
Cultivating my self-love means taking chances and never making excuses. When I’m feeling down, those are the days I take the biggest chances, to remind myself that I can, and I am good enough. Things that always make me feel better is anytime spent alone and a relaxing environment where I can think.
MELISSA GIBSON (a.k.a. YoursTruelyMelly)
Cultivating self love first of all is about slowing down and recognizing that you aren’t having the best of days. Sometimes we push those feelings down and keep moving on, but it’s important to listen to our bodies and emotions. When I recognize that I’m just not feeling life that day or getting negative about my body, friendships, relationships I first and foremost make sure that I slow down and get the sleep I need. Lack of sleep really affects me. Secondly, I try to figure out what is off balance in my life. Sometimes that means I read more, I go on a walk to get my body moving and use it, I make plans with friends, or put a little extra effort into my outfit choice that day. Self love for me is a lot about really listening to myself, being aware of my emotions, feeling them, questioning why I may actually be feeling that way. It’s calling a friend and sharing what is going on with them, being vulnerable. Also when I’m feeling down I find something to be excited about, I make plans to travel or a night out the next weekend. I find a new restaurant to try or park to discover. I love on others and encourage them. Live in the moment, feel my emotions, and listen to them but for the purpose of moving forward and figuring out how to do that in a way that honors all of me.
As a person with a chronic illness I really focus on having a bank of activities to help me feel relaxed and positive about myself. Now on a low mood day rather than low energy day, I run. I almost visualise myself being set free and I just run around like Phoebe on friends. It’s not about exercise, it’s about physically shedding all your negativity and being outside. Often I don’t run for long and I just start walking and thinking. When it comes to self love/body love, running is so helpful. It’s a reminder of what else my body can do, and, without fail, I walk back into my house more content than when I left. On a low energy day I do the opposite: I sit in bed with my favourite combo of chocolate and a cup of mint tea and play video games. Normally a good open world one where I can explore. It stops me from feeling trapped in my body. I’m a student so I spend a lot of time around people and I think it’s valuable to learn how to recharge alone.
LAUREN (a.k.a. CupcakeThighs)
I practice many different forms of self care. I enjoy writing about my feelings whether that ends up being an Instagram post, a blog entry, or just for my journal. Talking about how I’m doing with people that love me can be very therapeutic as well. If my words aren’t coming or I’m just tired of talking about it, sometimes I find solace in media – it can be nice to escape to a fantasy world. Sometimes that’s a movie or TV show, sometimes it’s a book. My current favorites right now respectively are Funny Girl, Bob’s Burgers, and Pride & Prejudice. I’m also known for taking notoriously long showers. There’s something about just standing underneath the hot water that feels healing to me. Whether I have a head or heart ache, I always feel better after some time in the water.
GINA (a.k.a. NourishAndEat)
For me, staying positive and staying anxiety-free are two separate things. In order to stay positive, I make sure to take care of my body and my mind with self-care and a little pampering. I’ll get my nails done, or snuggle with my dog, or have a relaxing bath; I’ll do an exfoliating scrub and spend some time cleaning up my brows or re-organizing my makeup box. Or I’ll go out and get a new little notebook or some colored pens. As for staying anxiety-free, two things work the best for me: yoga, and worry lists. Most days I start out with an early morning yoga flow, and that keeps me centered and calm throughout the day. It helps me not only to block out unnecessary worries, but also move and stretch a body that I’m still learning to properly take care of. It’s very soothing.
On days that sometimes get to be too much, I make worry lists. I make a column on the left of free-association, writing down my worries and things that I can’t stop thinking about, and on the right I write out why those things aren’t worth panicking about. Either solutions to them, or thought processes, or questions to ask later. It really really helps me.
Mainly when circumstances arise and I feel myself getting drained, I try to take a step back and remind myself of what’s actually changed. Usually the answer is enough to get me right! And if someone makes a hurtful or negative comment (which is usually the thing to drag my mood down), I always have to remember: the people who comment with negativity and hatred are struggling. Everyone’s experiences are different, and whatever it was that led up to that person making a hurtful comment on my photo is not my place to judge. And even though they may not be expressing themselves in the right way, the feelings behind their words are valid no matter how they make me feel. Keeping that in mind helps me focus on what’s important.
CAROLINE (a.k.a. CurvyWordy)
I find I’m more likely to feel low when I’m tired, so getting sufficient sleep and some quality me time are crucial. It might sound silly but I love painting my nails – whilst watching my favourite tv show or a good film, of course. Both things help me to switch off and it’s always fun admiring my nails when I’ve finished. Cuddles are also paramount, and as someone who lives alone I am often lacking in physical contact. Luckily I have family who live fairly close by and I get to see them at least once a week. My niece and nephew are as partial to snuggles as I am so I get my quota from them. Hugs are so good for the soul!