4 Practical Things to Do When It Isn't So Easy to Love Yourself

Self-love is not a destination—it’s a continuous process that lasts a lifetime. And while it feels much easier to love yourself when everything is going right in your life, the truth is that it’s a totally different story when things aren’t going so right.

The tricky part about genuine self-love is making it unconditional. If you only really love yourself when it feels like your life is in order or you’ve just achieved a desired goal, but turn on yourself when your make mistakes or face rejection—then you’re making self-love conditional.

Loving yourself through the messiness of life does not mean that you have to like what you’re currently facing. It does, however, require you to stop judging yourself and accept that your current experiences are happening for a reason.

 

1. Give yourself permission to take a break from yoga or tailor your practice to what you’re going through.

When life gets tough, you’ll only make things harder by expecting yourself to live up to all your normal responsibilities—and that includes yoga if you have a regular practice. Take some time off to process your emotions, focus on what you need to regain your sense of balance, and leave no room to feel guilty or ashamed about it.

As an alternative, you can shift the focus of your practice to help you with what you’re dealing with. For example, many classes offered by studios and online platforms focus on helping students cope with specific problems like stress, addiction, and even grief.

 

2. At the very least, commit to doing three basic healthy habits every day—without question.

Sometimes even the most basic day-to-day activities seem impossible to do in the midst of extreme hardship, so it can be worthwhile to make a short list of three things to accomplish every day at a bare minimum rather than overwhelming yourself too many to-do's. This list might look like this:

  1. Get dressed.
  2. Take a shower.
  3. Eat at least 2 meals.

Or it might look like this:

  1. Hug/kiss my partner before leaving for work.
  2. Meditate/pray for 1 minute.
  3. Go to bed by 10 o’clock tonight.

3. Find a healthy outlet for processing your darker thoughts and feelings, and don’t try to rush “getting over” them.

Most people would rather fill their downtime with distractions than sit silently with themselves, but it is only by the power of distraction-free solitude that we can truly tune into ourselves and begin the process of healing from whatever we’re facing. A little a day can go a long way over time and save yourself from suppressed negativity that affects you years and years down the road.

Start spending at least 5 minutes a day in distraction-free solitude and silence. From there, gently increase your time limit as needed and consider moving toward journaling your thoughts, talking to yourself out loud, or allowing yourself to fully embrace all of your negative emotions by crying, screaming, cursing, or even punching a pillow if you feel the need.

 

4. Get support from friends, relatives, community members, or professionals.

Turning to others in difficult times is not about seeking validation or hoping that somebody else can solve your problems for you. Instead, it’s about getting out of your own mind by broadening your self-perception through the lens of others’ perspectives and considering ideas that you'd be less likely to become aware of all on your own.

Even though only you have the power to cultivate the self-love you deserve, connecting with other people can help open you up to new information, meanings, lessons, and even solutions based on their personal knowledge and experience. After all, just because it’s called “self”-love doesn’t mean the entire journey is a solo one!


Balance

Ayurveda tells us that autumn is a vata season. Its dry, windy, rough, cool, and unpredictable qualities can leave you feeling physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually imbalanced if excess vata is not tamed.

To balance vata, look toward cultivating the following practices in your life. Doing so will help make the seasonal transition not only easier but more enjoyable as you continue to grow yourself in the dark and quiet months leading up to winter.

Stress Relief

Now is the time to take a step back and be honest about what’s stressing you out. Whether it’s a bad habit you’ve developed or an excessive amount of responsibilities keeping you busy, you have to put your well-being first if you want to resolve it. This might involve taking more time for yourself, replacing a bad habit with a healthier one, making an effort to get enough sleep every night, or even making it more of a priority to indulge in therapeutic practices (such as yoga and meditation).

Warmth

As the temperature continues to drop, your body will begin to crave more warmth. By warming up the body, you essentially help ward off many unwanted effects of excess vata—including bloating and constipation, dry or chapped skin, and difficulty tolerating cold and wind. Build heat with sun salutations in your practice, take warm baths, give yourself a soothing self-massage, enjoy spices in your meals, and eat cooked rather than raw foods. And hey, it doesn’t hurt to cuddle with your pet, spouse/partner, kids, or anyone else with a warm body!

Nourishment

Nourishment goes hand in hand with both stress relief and warmth. Take good care of your body by keeping your skin moisturized, your mind calm, and your body well fed. Favour foods that are higher in fat and protein, giving preference to sweet, sour, and salty tastes. You can also add a generous amount of oily foods to your diet as long as they’re of high-quality. Think olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil, and ghee.

Relationships

When vata becomes imbalanced, you may find yourself suffering from mental and emotional states like nervousness, anxiety, fear, restless thinking, and scattered feelings. In addition to meditating on these feelings, be sure to keep close friends and family members near. Knowing that you are loved and connected to others during the colder seasons can help pacify negative thoughts and feelings when they have a tendency to get out of hand.

Groundedness

Last but not least, establishing a sense of groundedness to the the Earth and the present moment will help you stay balanced as you work on letting go of what no longer serves you while embracing what is. Try to get in a good routine with your daily habits (meals, exercise, bedtime) and engage in healthy practices that encourage you to turn inward. Here are a few one-minute grounding techniques you can use this October and beyond as you quietly work on discovering more about yourself and prepare to grow even further into the new you.