Mental Health Matters: Ways to Love Yourself

By Kaylin R. Staten

One of my primary goals in 2019 is to love myself. In today’s highlight reels on social media and my tendency to put on a brave face, I sometimes forget to really give myself actual love. I love for miles and miles when it comes to other people, causes, projects — essentially, anything that is not me.

I think this derives from my brand of anxiety. The second guessing, the negative inner dialogue, the perfectionism that wades through my life like a flash flood. All of this prevents me from seeing myself in the truest light.

As individuals, all of us are worthy of self-love. Here are some ways you can love yourself more:

Relax more.

I’ll be honest, I still struggle to relax. My brain is a continuous loop of what I want to achieve and other nonstop thoughts. To feel 100 percent relaxed is a rarity in my world, but it’s vital to maintaining higher levels of self-love. Set some time aside every day to do something relaxing. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Take the time to write a poem, take a bath when you get home, have a conversation with a loved one. Or just sit on the couch and binge watch some real-crime documentaries on Netflix. Do what makes you happy!

Pay attention to your health.

When I was younger, this wasn't an emphasis. Generally speaking, I did care about my health, but I didn’t care about what I put into my body. I would eat junk food for dinner and drink too many cans of Vanilla Coke. I’d stay up late and still have to get up early for classes or work. I didn’t manage stress well, so my weight would fluctuate. Be mindful of what you eat and drink. Exercise on a regular basis. Get your recommended hours of a good night’s sleep. Take care of your skin. One of the largest indicators of self-love is treating your body, mind and spirit better.

Get rid of anything that causes FOMO.

All of us have at least one person we follow on social media we view with icy stares. This person may have the life we think we want by traveling the globe, having the perfect relationship, killing it every day at work, making the most IG-worthy food every night, etc. If this person (or people, depending) are causing your FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to kick into overdrive, you may want to reconsider following them at all. Loving yourself is about following people on social media you want to interact with. All of us like seeing increased follower counts, but make sure you’re following accounts that actually mean something to you and don’t bring your self-esteem down. Of course, life isn’t full of happy Instagram posts of all the time, but you can greatly decrease anxiety and unhappiness by pressing the unfollow button.

Detach from negativity.

I realize that complete detachment from negativity isn’t possible. What is possible is limiting your exposure to it. Weed out negative people, situations and energies from your life when applicable. If you can’t do that, then change how you react to the situation at hand. If someone begins a tirade into a negative subject, be as short as possible with your response and don’t feed negativity back into the communication loop. That usually will kill the negativity right on the spot. Self-love is bred from positivity, and negativity can cause major setbacks.

Have alone time.

Whether you’re naturally extroverted, introverted or somewhere in between, alone time could be a necessary way to revitalize your energy and mood. Spend some time with yourself to get to know yourself a little better. Order your favorite takeout and watch some classic movies and TV shows. Flip through photo albums and listen to a Spotify playlist. Buy yourself some flowers and chocolates. Recently, when I did my own KonMari challenge, I learned so much about myself. Sure, it was a self-induced chore, but I enjoyed going through my items. I learned what I am willing to part with and what could be thrown away or donated. I thought I was a hoarder, but it turns out I’m only half a hoarder!

Form your own mantras.

Use words of affirmations and mantras to help set the mood for the day. If you only tell yourself negative things, then your entire mindset will breed negativity. You won’t get the job you want, your relationships will continue to suffer and your experiential dinner will always be halfway burned. My collection of inspiring words, mantras and quotes is ever-growing. Currently, I’m working on a poster of my mantras in the form of a manifesto to hang in the Hourglass Headquarters. Here is a sample one from wellness writer and chef Candace Kumai. I also have some MantraBand bracelets: Remember Who You Are, La Vie Est Belle and Live What You Love.

Practice self-forgiveness.

This is a tough one. I still struggle with transgressions from years ago, but the reality is: we grow every day. Often, we grow beyond who we were at any given point, and when we don’t repeat our previous mistakes, those are lessons learned. We gain knowledge, strength and clarity from those situations to make us who we truly are. If you’re having a hard time forgiving yourself, several methods could help: writing in a journal, talking with someone, attending therapy sessions, reading self-help books, writing a list of mantras to invoke more positive thoughts, etc. The path to self-forgiveness could be long, but it’s well worth it in the end.

The most important thing to remember about self-love is to always be authentic. When you’re the realest version of you, you’re the happiest -- no matter what others think.

Please note: These blog posts are not clinical, although we will provide symptoms and other information. These posts are based on my experiences with anxiety and mental health in general. If you or someone you know needs help, visit a website like Mental Health America to learn more.

Mental Health Moments blog posts are every other Tuesday of the month. Our CEO and contributors highlight what it's like to live with a mental health disorder and continue to fight the stigma through storytelling.

Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.