One of the keys to improving one’s mental health is practicing self-love and mindfulness. Though the first might seem obvious, the second is more nebulous in purpose and meaning.
What does it mean to practice self-love, and what does it mean to learn mindfulness?
Taking time for yourself
First and foremost, self-love is about — you guessed it — loving yourself. However, what that entails isn’t always obvious.
There are times when it’s most prudent to prioritize oneself. Take time to do things you enjoy, and allow yourself to experience that time alone.
Perhaps this is watching movies, working on your car, taking bubble baths, carpentry, sitting under a tree somewhere with the sun shining and the birds singing. The goal here is to relax, destress and clear your mind.
While doing whatever it is you enjoy doing — alone — and you’ve begun to clear your mind, the next step is to search within yourself.
This might come easier to some at first, but give it time and practice. Introspection, or an intrapersonal exploration, is simply looking within yourself and wrestling with questions about yourself.
Who are you? What sparks joy in your life? What doesn’t spark joy in your life? Why did you react the way you did to that conversation last night?
Regardless of the aspect of yourself you consider, you are making a forward step in self-understanding and acceptance.
You are going to live with yourself for your entire life. Take the time to understand who you are, accept yourself and discover the reasons why you should love yourself.
Not only will this make you a happier person, but the mere act of taking time to yourself to destress gives you the time to unplug from social anxieties, expectations and drama that actively hurts your mental health.
To take this idea further, solo meditation is a great way to achieve all this and more.
This can be religious if you want it to be, but meditation doesn’t have to involve a religious aspect and shouldn’t be thought of as strictly religious. Find somewhere you’re comfortable and sit down, close your eyes and breath slowly. Try and focus on your breathing. Somewhere in nature might be best.
While doing so, open yourself to the sounds you hear and what you feel around you. Try not to think, but feel both what is outside and within. Accept who you are and how you relate to the world around you, and you will find the path to loving yourself.
And on the topic of understanding your relationship with the world around you, a part of that is mindfulness.
Mindfulness might be a bit more nebulous, but it is intrinsically related to self-love and mental health.
In discovering how you relate to the world around you, you might also discover yourself performing extra-personal explorations. That is understanding those around you.
Just as social anxieties, expectations and drama are hinderances upon you, and others can exert such stresses upon you, you too exert those same stresses onto others. Why did they react the way they did?
Learning to be mindful of the situation others are in — their context — can help mitigate stress inducing misunderstandings. And it is specifically being mindful of others that allows for healthy personal relationships to blossom. Mindfulness can be as simple as saying ‘excuse me, sorry’ if you accidentally nudge into someone.
Becoming mindful of yourself, too, allows for a healthy mental space and ties in to understanding of oneself.
Do you feel you’re coming off as abrasive? If so, why do you feel that’s the case? What is causing you to react or behave in such a manner? Perhaps being mindful of them can alleviate poor interactions, but being mindful of oneself might be even more important.
Aggression is negative for both the deliverer and receiver. Everyone can feel the difference between a positive and negative environment.
Being mindful of yourself and understanding yourself allows not only for you to exude a positive energy that uplifts others, but their positive energy in turn will uplift you.
And if everyone practices self-love and mindfulness, and everyone is exuding such positive energy, the collective mental space will be healthier and benefit from it.