You have the power to start leading your best life — right now.
You don’t have to constantly make so many sacrifices for others that your wellbeing and happiness fall to the wayside.
You need to start loving yourself. Really loving yourself. It’s time to break the cycle. It’s time to take back your confidence and your happiness, reclaim your life and relationships, and infuse joy into your days again.
And once you start loving yourself fully, you will feel the most beautiful you have ever felt.
1. Take up a new hobby or activity
No more excuses this year! It’s time to truly start living a life you love.
Start with an intention set; what hobby, activity, or skill do you want to have in your life? This could be something that’s always been on your bucket list, such as playing the piano or practising meditation daily, or it could be an activity you’ve always wanted to try like ballroom dancing, a cooking blog, or creating a garden.
Having trouble thinking of something? Try this thought exercise: Imagine yourself five years from now. What skills and interests make you unique? What are you proud to have learned or mastered? By identifying the ideal future version of yourself, you can begin to outline the plan and take baby steps towards achieving your dreams, no matter how small they are.
Just remember, you might not be an expert or master in your new hobby or activity by the end of the year, but that’s not the important part. The self-love comes from allowing yourself to pursue your passions and interests without putting them on hold in favour of work or other obligations.
Will there ever be a perfect time? No. Now is the only time to do it. It’s now or never!
2. Begin breaking the cycle of negative thoughts
It’s time to begin treating yourself like you treat your loved ones.
We often look in the mirror and think terrible things about ourselves; things we would NEVER say to people we love! So why is it any different when we are thinking about ourselves?
To change this, it takes more than just telling yourself to “stop having negative thoughts”. We need to provide our brains with something else to use instead of negative thoughts and difficult emotions. How can you do this? By using affirmations to replace your old, destructive self-talk.
Find some affirmations that speak to you on a personal level, that are powerful and profound. Spend time each day saying these affirmations, repeating them to yourself mentally, out loud, or even in the mirror.
This will massively help you on the path to self-love, and you will notice monumental changes in your mood and confidence once you break the cycle of negative thoughts and start complimenting yourself instead.
3. Set aside time to focus on your health
At the end of the day, health is the most important aspect of being able to live life fully.
And keeping your body healthy is foundational self-love. So many of us think of gyms as the only option when it comes to exercise, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Honour yourself by choosing an activity that truly interests you and sounds like fun. Even swapping a 30-minute yoga session or getting up and dancing to a favourite song instead of another episode of a show on Netflix can be transformative if you start to integrate it into daily life.
Learn to love moving your body — keep exploring until you find the right form of exercise for you.
4. Invest in friendships and grow your social network
NOT on social media — we mean, actual, genuine, face-to-face friends.
If 70 per cent of human happiness comes from quality, personal relationships with friends and loved ones, you owe it to yourself to work on developing those crucial ties. And this doesn’t mean packing your calendar with social obligations, especially if you are more introverted — because that would be exhausting.
Focus on self-love by setting up quality time to see friends or make some new friends by volunteering or through other activities.
Most importantly, you are who you spend time with. Look for friends who inspire you, motivate you, and bring positive energy into your life. Make time for those people.
5. Allow yourself to enjoy some downtime, guilt-free
Chances are if you’re reading this list, enjoying downtime is something you struggle with.
It’s hard enough to find five minutes alone when you could have some downtime, and when you finally do, you feel too guilty that you aren’t working or spending time with your family to actually enjoy it.
And if it’s not the guilt, it’s the challenge of actually being able to relax after an exhausting day. Sound familiar? It’s time to put an end to that. You are a human being deserving of rest and relaxation — daily.
Did you know that four to five hours of intense focused thinking is all we can healthily do in one day? Fortunately, there’s a secret to unlocking more productivity and energy while still getting periods of rest and relaxation each day.
All of us have a period of natural downtime during the day, when our energy levels are at their lowest. The key is to use that period of time for scheduled relaxing quiet time so that you can unwind and decompress and then power through your work and errands when your energy levels are naturally back up. You can read more about this in Tiv’s Love Yourself Challenge.
This year is the perfect time to change your life and start truly loving yourself.
Don’t feel overwhelmed — even choosing one or two of the items on this list to start with will lead to rewarding changes, and over time you will be able to unlock more love for yourself, your life, and your body than you’ve ever had before.
This article was originally published on A Girl In Progress.