By Jen I. and Danielle G.
(Jen) I’ve had the pleasure of working with Danielle, founder of Perfect Day Athleisure, to collaborate on writing this post, and we are SO excited to share it with you!
So, what is self-love? For me, it’s a continuous process of ‘finding myself’ (not wanting to sound too cliche). Having committed recently to pursuing my true passions in health, fitness and wellbeing, I have made heaps of progress, but self-love doesn’t end there. Like I said, it’s continuous.
My experiences with anxiety and depression over the last 12-18 months have been extremely overwhelming. Seemingly, all of these negative thoughts and feelings came out of nowhere, and I felt trapped by them. I lost a great deal of confidence in myself and my abilities, both in and out of work.
Slowly things got worse, and my anxiety escalated to periods of depression, where I’ve had to take time off work; and that’s not an easy thing to do when you already feel pretty useless! It felt like I was admitting defeat.
But finding my love for health and fitness again, and focussing on my own wellbeing and nutrition has filled me with positive energy. I started writing my blog, LoveNourishEnjoy, just a few months ago which, apart from being a great therapy for me, is aimed to inspire others on their journey to self-love and overcoming their anxieties.
(Danielle) Self-love for me, is not a destination. It’s an ongoing journey that takes patience, effort, and understanding (of yourself!). Some days are good. Some days are bad. But it’s the work that you put into it that matters.
My journey started when we moved to London from Chicago. Though it was a wonderful opportunity, the first few months (ok, more than a few months, if I’m being honest!) were truly my “dark days.” I was lonely. I was confused. I was unmotivated. I wasn’t myself.
Because of that, I needed to do something that was going to fulfill me. I started writing. I started yoga. I started breathing more. I started to find my passions (like starting my own company, Perfect Day Athleisure!). I started to be mindful of how I spend my time and who and what makes me happy. It took a lot of time, and I’m not totally there yet.
But because I’ve made a concerted effort to love myself and work on myself, I am in a more positive place in my life. And more so, when I am in a place where I feel good, I am better in my relationships with others: a better wife, daughter, friend, teacher, etc.
(Jen) So Danielle and I have come up with 10 tools that have helped us to care for and love ourselves, and will lead you on your journey to self love.
(Danielle) Say “no”→ I am definitely guilty of being a “yes” person because I am a people pleaser (and I’m sometimes guilty of FOMO, which forces me to always commit to things I may not necessarily want commit to). While it’s not a bad trait, because it allows you to meet more people and step outside of your comfort zone, always saying “yes” fills up your schedule, time, and takes up your energy. You could be wasting your time on something you don’t want to be doing, which causes more stress. I’m now trying to embrace saying “no.” It’s ok to say no to brunch. Or drinks after work. Or going to an event you don’t want to go to. Saying “no” allows you to make more time for yourself. This brings me to my next two points…
(Danielle) Make a date with the wonderful YOU→ To ensure that you aren’t filling up your time with things, events, and people who stress you out, make a weekly (or daily) date with yourself. Maybe that means waking up 10 minutes before work to enjoy a cup of coffee alone. Maybe you attend an exercise class every week with the one teacher you love. Maybe you go for a walk after lunch or dinner every day to clear your mind. Whatever it is, schedule it in your calendar so it’s a visual reminder to make time for yourself!
(Danielle) Surround yourself with like-minded people→ And when you do fill up your time, make sure it’s meaningful and enriches your life. Find a tribe who is worth spending time with. Find people who lift you up and support you, who share the same values as you, who genuinely care about you and love you for YOU. Those are the people who should be in your “good vibe tribe” and those are the people you shouldn’t let go. And remember, if someone is toxic and doesn’t make you feel good, then it’s ok to say “no.”
(Danielle) Breathe→ If yoga has taught me one thing, it’s to breathe. The breath is such a powerful reminder to be in the moment. It’s a powerful tool to destress. It’s a powerful use of your own body to care for itself. Taking 5 deep breaths when you wake up (instead of reaching for your phone!) or before bed or when you’re stressed out at work will help calm your mind and create some peace. I do this sometimes on the tube when it’s too crowded and I can feel myself getting angry and anxious. It works!
(Danielle) Start your day with a positive mantra→ “Thoughts become things” is a phrase that I constantly repeat to myself and my husband. It’s a reminder that a positive mind will lead to positive outcomes. So saying an encouraging affirmation every day to yourself can help kickstart that healthy and positive attitude to last you all day and will help you to manifest what you want. I typically just say something simple to myself: “I am enough”. “I am blessed”. “Today is my day”. “I am successful”. “I am loved”. But if you’re feeling fancy, here are some other ones to use!
(Jen) Thanks, Danielle… I can definitely relate to all those! Here are 5 more to inspire you to love yourself.
(Jen) Embrace your uniqueness→ We’ve all been there; where you wish you looked a bit more like that girl on Instagram, or you had skinnier thighs… Whatever it may be, we seem to have a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others. I’ve always admired people that are confident in their own skin, and struggled to see any ‘flaws’ but my own. But you know what? I am me, and you are YOU, and both of us are incredible! Accept yourself, and embrace all of you… thighs ‘n’ all.
(Jen) Pump up the volume→ Music can be a great release for me, when I’m in all sorts of moods. If I’m in a happy-go-lucky mood, I’ll stick on an upbeat dance track and have a little boogie, or if I’m angry or stressed, I’ll tend to listen to Paramore as their lyrics speak to me, and I love the rockiness and funkiness of their latest album. Whatever your choice of music, stick it on and turn up that volume!
(Jen) Relax and unwind→ I absolutely love taking a bath. It’s complete ‘me time’. No interruptions, a gorgeous bath bomb, some scented candles and occasionally a glass of wine. Who says we can’t make time for ourselves? The answer… we do! We convince ourselves that other things are more important, or that we don’t have any time left in the day. Well, my advice to you is take that time! Whether it’s 10 minutes, an hour, a whole day!! Maybe book that massage you’ve been putting off for a while… you owe it to yourself because you are more important!
(Jen) Remember, the world is your oyster→ Remember that whatever you want to do, you can absolutely do it! Are you lacking motivation, and looking to meet new like-minded people? Try out a new hobby; join a new gym, take up a team sport, learn to crochet! Find something to suit you! This also gives you more valuable ‘you time’. By all means ask a friend to go with you to that first yoga session, but remember that you are doing it for YOU.
(Jen) Have Passionfruit→ No, actually… not the fruit. This is about reaping the real rewards of a career you genuinely enjoy and are passionate about, and seeing the fruits of your labour. It took me about 10 years to figure out what career I want, and it turns out that I was wrong! I have been working in a couple of different Human Resources roles over the last 6 years, and that was great at the time. But this year, following several periods of anxiety, I have fathomed out that my well-being is way more important that any ‘day job’, and I am striving to make my passions my work. There is nothing holding you back, but yourself… remember that and do something about it.
If you find any of these tools useful, let us know by commenting below, or feel free to add a strategy of your own! Self-love is a process and we’re always searching and working for ways to gain more confidence, peace, and happiness.