Self-love is more than loving yourself for who you are, but it is also taking care of yourself. To love yourself is to take care of your needs, to pamper yourself, to respect yourself, and to love you as the person God made you to be, not only as a person with an illness. Learning to love yourself inside out is important to reach the road to recovery from mental illness.
When you’re sick with mental illness, you lose your self-esteem, your self-respect, and self-love. You begin to hate and neglect yourself. You rip yourself apart with your thoughts and you may harm yourself. You don’t give yourself the care, love and respect you deserve. You don’t even know you deserve it. You’re too stuck in self-hate and darkness to see your own worth.
Practicing self-love will help you reach into the light and pull yourself out of that hole. It took me a long time to learn how to love myself properly. When I was sick, I hated everything about me, how I looked, how I acted, my personality, and so on. I had to learn to love me as I am and not the illness that plagued my mind. To love myself I had to learn and practice self-loving techniques.
Here are some self-loving techniques you can practice:
- Get help with your illness. Find a therapist you feel comfortable confiding in and a psychiatrist whom you trust. Good therapists and psychiatrists may be hard to find. Try different ones until you find the ones you feel the most comfortable with.
- Go to the doctor when you need to. Don’t ignore your health. If you’re sick, don’t push yourself to work until you collapse. If you’re having health problems, go to the doctor. If you love yourself, you will take care of your health and not let it go until something major happens. You will also do annual physicals to make sure you’re staying in good health.
- Pamper yourself. After a hard day of work, take a soothing bath. When you feel down, treat yourself to something special like a movie or that shirt you’ve been wanting. When you accomplish something, treat yourself to something special like a piece of cheese cake or just do something to help you feel good, like get a haircut or get a massage.
- Practice positive thinking. Keep a journal of the positive things in your day or in your life. Use your journal to turn negative thoughts into positive. Practice complimenting yourself.
- Ask three people four things they like about you. Take those things and put them on index cards. Post them around your home where you will see them. Read them over and over again until you begin to believe them.
- Write self-affirmations. Write one each day and slowly increase it to two, then three, and four a day. Don’t write something you don’t believe in. An affirmation like, “I am a strong and beautiful woman.” Look deep within yourself and find the positive behind the sadness.
- Find God. Go to church, go to a Bible study, or sit down and pray. God made you and he is the one who can guide you and show you how truly unique you are. Loving God will help you love yourself.
When I was working towards recovery, I struggled with many of these techniques, but in time they became natural. When I find myself dipping into self-hate, I turn to these techniques. Loving me is an important part of staying in recovery. Practicing self-love taught me how to not only love myself, but how to take care of myself, and this helps me stand tall within the light.