Build joy

Building a strong foundation of self-care skills is absolutely essential for meeting your needs and goals. Self-care starts with embracing who you are, what you look like, and where you are in your life. This doesn’t mean that you might not prefer to have been born with different circumstances, attributes or a different body. Nor does it mean giving up or never seeking to improve yourself. Just the opposite. Studies show that coming from a place of self-acceptance or self-compassion makes us MORE likely to nourish and care for ourselves rather than shaming or berating. But if you are like most people, taking loving care of yourself does not come easily or naturally.

Here are three habits that self-loving people engage in to help them develop rich and meaningful lives.

Habit #1 ~ Whisper “sweet nothings” to yourself. 
Make sure that some of your daily self-talk is positive and affirmative. We have listened to our inner critic for so long that it now seems so darn believable. Take a break from that voice and remember to accentuate your strengths and accomplishments; offer up some self-support. Sound completely foreign? Start by imagining what your best friend or a loving caregiver might say to you.

Habit #2 ~ Give up perfectionism.
Having impossibly high expectations for ourselves and others can lead us to a life focused on failure and fear of making mistakes. The illusion that if we just work hard enough we could get it perfect leads us into a never ending struggle to do more. We “should” all over the place, criticizing and judging ourselves as well as finding constant disappointment in the behavior of others. Ouch. Sound familiar? Say this out loud right now: “There is no such thing as perfection.” Contrast that with someone who practices self-acceptance. They set reasonable and realistic goals and enjoy the process of going after them. They embrace the idea that it is human to make mistakes, and that sometimes good enough is good enough.

Habit #3 ~ Write a Joy List.
As humans, we all naturally seek love and comfort. Many of us often default to only one or two strategies to sooth ourselves. I work with many clients who find themselves turning to food, for example. While highly effective, it can also become destructive if it leads to excessive overeating. Take a few moments to create a list of things that would nourish you and bring you joy. Drawing a blank? Here are a few examples from my list to get you started:

  • A super hot shower with apricot/basil shower gel
  • Singing at the top of my lungs in my car
  • Snuggling with my daughters just before bed
  • A walk by the lake
  • A soothing cup of peppermint tea (add a good book and I am practically in heaven!)

Remember self-care takes practice. At first it might seem awkward — you might feel guilty for taking time for yourself. But over time, it’ll become more natural and automatic. And you’ll notice that you feel a whole lot more fulfilled.