“How you love yourself is how you teach others to love you.” – Rupi Kaur
As Valentine’s Day approaches, it is imperative to remember the most important person you can show love to is yourself. When narrowing down how you can show care and love to yourself, focusing on your mental health can be a great place to start.
Practicing compassion for one’s self builds an inner sense of safety and strengthens what in psychology is called our 'internal locus of control'—a sense that you have control over aspects of your life¹.”
Prioritizing ourselves and our needs may sound selfish or indulgent, but cultivating compassion and care for ourselves can positively impact our mental and physical health¹. Here are eight self-love practices to foster a better relationship with yourself and improve your mental health:
The Importance of Practicing Self-Care
First and foremost, truly practicing self-love requires ensuring your basic needs are being met. This includes getting enough sleep at night, staying active, and maintaining proper nutrition. If you struggle with depression or other mental illnesses, making sure you are keeping up with your basic hygiene needs can also be a good way to practice self-care. Practices like taking a shower, wearing clean clothes, and brushing your teeth can be difficult to accomplish, but take it one step at a time and you will feel better after completing the task. It can be easy to neglect our self-care when we are feeling stressed or depressed, but at times when you feel low should be when you prioritize your self-care the most. No matter how small your practice for self-care may be, forming daily self-love habits will help you feel better in the long run.
In our daily lives, we often give so much of ourselves to others that we forget to treat ourselves from time to time. Treating yourself to something special can be as luxurious or as simple as you’d like. Luxurious activities could include having a spa day at a retreat or home or purchasing an item or ticket for an event you have been thinking about. Simple activities could include taking a walk, making your favorite meal, listening to music, or participating in a creative outlet. Whether you choose something simple or luxurious to treat yourself something as simple as engaging in activities you enjoy can elevate your mood and increase your energy¹.
Take a Break from Social Media
Social media and our screens are an easy way to stay connected and entertained throughout the day, but they can also be draining and keep you distracted. Being online or staring at a screen can trigger feelings of anxiety and create negative emotions on an average day, but holidays can be especially difficult for some². If Valentine’s Day posts can trigger symptoms of depression and anxiety for you, consider occupying your time offline. Whether you get outdoors or simply leave your devices in another room for the day is up to you!
Mindfulness and Meditation for Ketamine Patients
Often we can be our own worst critics, but this is when reminding yourself to be mindful of your thoughts and feelings and engaging in practices like meditation can be helpful. The way we speak to and about ourselves can play a huge role in how we feel and the beliefs we hold onto about ourselves. If you notice yourself being unkind and hard on yourself, try to acknowledge the feeling for what it is but remember to let it pass. If this sounds difficult to achieve, try speaking to yourself as you would to a loved one, as we are usually harsher to ourselves and think and say things we would never say to others.
Practicing affirmations and getting into meditation can also be helpful to incorporate self-love practices for confidence and shifting your mindset to a more positive thought pattern. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can be as free-flowing or as guided as you like with options to follow along with apps or videos that provide guided meditation exercises for beginner to advanced practitioners.
Similar to being more mindful, holding onto grudges toward yourself and others is just holding onto negative thoughts and can weigh down on you more than you may realize. Practicing forgiveness can help you let go of that exhaustion, get better sleep, lower stress and improve cholesterol levels, and lower your risk of a heart attack¹.
Set Healthy Boundaries.
Having boundaries in any connection you make is important to protect your body and peace of mind. Allowing yourself to say no when you are tired, overwhelmed, or simply do not want to participate in something will help you establish healthy boundaries. This can apply to all types of connections in your life such as loved ones, at work, and with friends. When you set boundaries, the people who are healthy for you will respect your boundaries and uphold them to keep you accountable.
Seek Additional Support from a Professional.
Sometimes the best self-love you can offer yourself is acknowledging when you need additional support and seeking it from a trained professional. A therapist can help you navigate difficult situations and offer you the tools to better handle them when it comes up again in the future. Therapy is a great self-love practice for depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Trained professionals and therapists exist for a reason, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
Consider Ketamine Treatments.
Formerly used exclusively as an anesthetic, ketamine infusions are now used in treatments for mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and major depressive disorder when antidepressant medications do not yield successful results. When administered in small doses, ketamine treatments allow patients to relax and can lower suicidal ideation. Ketamine can provide lasting effects for improving symptoms of depression by making it easier for patients to form healthier habits when they are not being weighed down by their symptoms. Ketamine treatments can be a great option to consider if other forms of treatments are unsuccessful in treating symptoms of mental illness³. Early research is also showing that ketamine may even help with increasing confidence levels, a benefit not currently present with antidepressant medications⁴.
Ketamine and Confidence Research
Patients with mental illnesses can be prone to having lower levels of confidence, and currently, antidepressants do not provide confidence boosts. Early research suggests ketamine infusions may be providing this additional benefit⁴. This research is based on previous studies that show ketamine has a positive effect on improving negative cognition and compares reports of negative self-schema from 26 patients with treatment-resistant depression. Patients reported their levels of sadness, self-dislike, and self-criticalness and found that ketamine may have a therapeutic effect on negative self-schema, a fundamental cognitive aspect of depression⁴.
Avesta Ketamine and Wellness
At Avesta Ketamine and Wellness, we value your mental health and are committed to improving your well-being. For anyone in the McLean, Bethesda, or Washington DC areas interested in learning more about ketamine treatments or if they are the right course of action for your well-being, please schedule a consultation.
¹ Nazish, N. (2021, February 14). 11 simple ways to practice self-love this valentine's day (and beyond). Forbes. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/nomanazish/2021/02/14/11-simple-ways-to-practice-self-love-this-valentines-day-and-beyond/?sh=434f09dd178f
² McDonald, D. (2021, February 12). Give yourself the gift of self-love for Valentine's day. Boston University. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://www.bu.edu/articles/2021/give-yourself-the-gift-of-self-love-for-valentines-day/#:~:text=Focus%20on%20you,or%20eat%20a%20favorite%20food.
³ Ketamine - McLean, VA & Bethesda, MD. (n.d.). Avesta Ketamine and Wellness. Retrieved January 11, 2023, from https://www.avestaketaminewellness.com/contents/ketamine
⁴ Hasler, G., Suker, S., Schoretsanitis, G., & Mihov, Y. (1AD, January 1). Sustained improvement of negative self-schema after a single ketamine infusion: An open-label study. Frontiers. Retrieved November 15, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2020.00687/full
5 ways to practice self-love for good mental health. The Transition House Blog. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://blog.thetransitionhouse.org/self-love-for-mental-health
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