Love Yourself (Science Says To!)
While you might be singing the popular 2015 Justin Bieber song Love Yourself in your head, it is time to hit pause and get down to the science behind self-love and positive self-talk. Self-love is important for people of all ages and a motivator for health-related changes. People often think that they are motivated by self-criticism and a cycle of negative talk, when the contrary is actually true.
Self-compassion, defined as accepting yourself without judgment when times get tough, is linked to better health behaviors. For instance, research showed that women who were given an encouraging talk and a positive message about their body image and eating habits prior to eating a donut ate less of the candy they were given after consuming the donut when compared to those who did not receive an encouraging talk before eating a donut. Researchers believe that the positive talk encouraged acceptance and approval to eat the donut, so the women did not feel guilty and the need to “binge eat” candy. This further explains the benefit of self-compassion on health related behaviors. Perhaps if we remove the guilt and rules surrounding food, we will be able to nourish ourselves in an enjoyable, judgement-free way.
This all may seem easier said than done, and it probably is. Reversing years of a self-deprecating mindset will certainly take work but could be beneficial in the end. It is important to start small and strive for self-acceptance over time. Here are some ways you can work on loving yourself:
Write Yourself a Love Letter: A great place to start in your self-love journey may be to write a letter to yourself noting your strengths, accomplishments and goals. This will help you look inward and focus on all you are capable of.
Take Compassion Breaks: Give yourself some time to check in and take a break from the day. Compassion breaks can be as quick as a few seconds of telling yourself “I am going to be kind to myself today” when you notice your mind going down a negative spiral.
Power Posing: A fan favorite but less researched method, “power posing” (i.e., standing in a powerful posture while stating a mantra), is also sure to boost self-esteem and increase your self-efficacy to accomplish work and health related goals. To start, try standing in the mirror with your hands on your hips confidently stating some of your capabilities.
Know Your Limits: Another tool for creating a self loving environment is to know your limits and when to say no to things. Stretching yourself too thin and creating a fast-paced work and social life will drain your body battery. Enjoying your social time but also knowing when to recharge is a skill we can all benefit from working on. Plus, having a more rested mindset can help us drop the judgment and leave more space for creating healthy habits like practicing self-love.
The human body is truly incredible, it can send signals to immediately remove your hand from a hot oven, allow you to stand and walk, and digest food without even thinking about it. Positively praising and showing ourselves/our bodies some love does not come so easily and can require some practice. What better day than Valentine’s to put self-love on the forefront of your mind and commit to working on your relationship with you.
Learn more about health with the wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Claire Rudden, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.