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I love you.

 
The 3 most powerful words in existence. 3 words you should be saying to yourself – and start believing.

 
Current statistics suggest that 85% of the world’s population are affected by low self esteem. And considering the amount of stress and pressure placed upon us from school, university, work and home life commitments it’s no wonder. Not to mention the pressure society places upon girls to be conventionally “pretty” through adverts and magazines. Be slim, wear make-up and just look, well, perfect.

 
Let me take a second to reassure you now: PERFECT DOES NOT EXIST.

 
In fact being imperfect is, weirdly enough, what makes you perfect. Those small blemishes on your face, or your eye that’s just slightly smaller than the other one or even that little bit of weight you feel you want to lose – none of it matters, you still look amazing despite what you might think. It’s often said that you are your own worst critic and it’s true, if you can learn to love yourself and feel confident in your body then not only will that make you feel happier but it’ll show on the outside too.

 
Of course, it’s ok to struggle with this, I’m sure even the most confident person you know suffers from self-doubt occasionally. That’s where I come in, hopefully some of the tips in here can help you overcome any negative emotions when they surface and in turn, lead a happier life.

 
Get into the habit of standing in front of the mirror and telling yourself that you love you. Sound a bit weird? Let me explain. A lot of people don’t like looking in the mirror because all they can see is what they think is wrong with themselves so this technique is to rewire your thinking. Stand in front of a mirror and pick out features of yourself that you genuinely love. Everyone has at least one. Now pick out some features that you’re maybe not so fond of. The next step is to pick out those bits individually and say that you love them. For example “I really love my hair, especially how long it is. I also love my belly.” Pairing the thing you might not like with the thing you love makes the whole statement positive and so, in theory, you’ll condition yourself to look positively on that part that used to bring you down when you looked at it.

 
The next tip has been advised time and time again. But it’s simple. Exercise and eat a balanced diet. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym for crazy hours and then do a five mile jog before going home and then only eating a salad. That’s unrealistic and extremely unappealing (except to those health and exercise enthusiasts). It means eating proportionate amounts of fruits and vegetables, protein, carbs, fibre and fat. Remember that food wheel from science lessons that would always make you groan? It’s that. Too much sugar and fat can make you feel bloated and grumpy whereas not having any can cause you to snack on whatever’s available, healthy or not.

 
In terms of exercise it’s important to do something you enjoy because then you’re more likely to stick to it. It doesn’t have to be anything too intense either, so if you love running around and breaking a sweat try team sports like netball or football. If not then try yoga or even just dancing to your favourite songs in the privacy of your room.

 
Say thank you. Whether you decide to keep a gratitude journal, or write a thank you letter or prepare a gift basket saying thank you has been proven to be good for your health and makes you feel good about yourself. One research project based on students found that those students who were more thankful experienced less stress and depression than those who weren’t. Plus saying thank you can make other people happy which in turn makes you feel happy. As the saying goes what goes around comes around.

 
Every day just stop for a two minutes and appreciate yourself. Whether you want to say the things you appreciate about yourself out loud or write them down in a list or even keep a video diary of it, it all counts. All you have to do is list things that you like about yourself. Something nice you’ve done for someone that day. Acknowledging something you have a natural talent for or have worked hard to achieve. Doing this can also help you feel better if you’re feeling low because your focusing on the positive things in your life over the negative.

 
There are obviously a lot more things, wear stuff that makes you feel good about yourself, have a social media detox every once in a while, curl up in a duvet with a mug of hot chocolate (with whipped cream and marshmallows obviously) and read a really good book. As long as it makes you feel good about yourself it counts.

 

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