According to the Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, 50% of women in the US struggle with body confidence issues, and nearly 80% of women globally feel the pressure to never make mistakes or show weakness.
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And as a holistic health coach, I see it on a daily basis: women struggling to practice self-love. Instead, we
• Push ourselves beyond exhaustion with unrealistic expectations and agendas
• Are our own worst critic, and judge ourselves on way higher standards than we judge other people
• Beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve our own unrealistic goals
• Deprive ourselves of sufficient sleep, the most nutritious food, and habits that are good for us
• Self-medicate when our bodies are weak, or get sick.
However, to love ourselves is simply fundamental for our physical, mental and emotional well-being. As tough as it sounds: If we don’t take care of us, nobody will. And if we don’t love ourselves, nothing and no one can make us feel complete and happy.
Loving ourselves also helps with being more “successful” in life. If we unconditionally accept ourselves, with all our curves and edges, we’re more stress-resistant, more assertive in our opinion and more sociable (and thus can form more valuable connections), which helps us further our careers and feel more fulfilled in our private lives.
Plus, we’ll act in accordance with what we want, rather than what others want us to do. So, our self-esteem, too, starts with self-love.
It can take years to build, or restore true and deeply rooted self-love. But one of its most important building blocks and one we can start practicing right now are conscious acts of self-care.
Now, “self-care” is a term all busy, go-getter women are familiar with since it’s been at the top of our minds when we talk about what’s missing in our lives.
But do we truly understand what’s meant by it? And how can we prioritize it in our daily lives, with everything else that is going on?
Self-care, in short, is the way in which we honor our amazing bodies. It’s how we tend to our most basic needs for food, water, sleep, movement, and rest.
In order for our bodies to function best, our minds to be focused, and our emotions to be stable, we need nutritious food, plenty of water, at least 7 hours of sleep per night, regular movement and regular rest.
If we get this right, we can reach peak performance and the state of well-being, which we all crave. Plus, we show our bodies how much we love ourselves.
Yes, getting a massage or applying our favorite body lotion at night, also count as acts of self-care. But fundamentally, and what ultimately affects our sense of well-being, is whether we give our bodies what they ask for.
That might sound easy, but for most of us, it’s not that straight-forward. Because when we rush through our busy days, it’s easy to ignore the signals our bodies are sending us such as when we need water, food or movement.
Sometimes these signs are strong, like famishing hunger or thirst, but usually, they’re weak, like when we feel dizzy or sleepy or we get a headache.
What do you usually do in these situations? Get a coffee? Or take a pill? In fact, sometimes it’s just a glass of water, some deep breaths or some stretching that we need.
So, what can we do to prioritize self-care and finally start truly loving ourselves? First and foremost: practice listening to your body again!
A good way to start is to stop what you’re doing about every 30 minutes and do a quick scan of your body. Notice whether you feel hungry or tense.
Try feeling your feet, legs, arms, fingers and all other parts of your body. That way, you’re directing blood flow into them.
Have some water, even if you don’t feel thirsty — it can only do you good. And try to honor your body telling you if you’re tired or that you need some fresh air.
That way, you enforce the sense of care you give to yourself. And at the same time, you increase the trust you have in yourself and thus your confidence that you’ll have “your back”.
For the rest of today, I want to invite you to practice listening to your body. Every 30 minutes (set yourself an alarm if needed), stop and feel yourself into your body. Start at your crown and go down to your toes. Feel whether you’re tired, hungry, thirsty or tense. Have some water, and try to give your body what it asks of you.
Let’s rediscover the greatest love of all: the love for ourselves. Let’s start treating ourselves like we’d treat our children or our best friend. Let’s give us more of what we deserve and less of what holds us back, or even puts our health in danger. And thereby regain maximum confidence and well-being.