While it has different definitions, rituals and routines for everyone, one definition of self-love is the ability to listen to your body and respond respectfully to the messages it is sending you. When your needs are being met, you’re in a better position to give time and energy to those that you love, and enjoy life fully.
While your health is comprised of many aspects, there’s not one that will single-handedly create optimal health for you – it’s a combination of many smaller aspects pulling together.
Dr Anna Friis describes self-love as asking what your body ‘needs’ – responding to its wants, as an indulgence. This can require a little discipline to get into the swing of, but establishing a routine of nurturing our baseline needs, in turn benefits us physiologically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Let’s take a closer look at four basic human needs, and how approaching them from a place of self-love and respect can support us in progressing along on our health journeys.
Every major metabolic pathway in our body depends on essential micronutrients; found in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This means that our bodies ability to rebuild, synthesise hormones, detoxify toxins and create energy are all dependant on these essential micronutrients. The key to optimal health is ensuring you have enough of these micronutrients to support these bodily functions.
“When our body is functioning well, we feel good from the inside out, which supports us to really embody self-love from within.”
Eating a balanced diet rich in nutrient-dense fresh produce and whole foods is essential for great health. However, even if you are eating nutrient-rich foods wherever possible, the demands of the modern world make it very difficult to get the amounts of vitamins and minerals we need through diet alone. This is mainly due to poor soil and food quality and increased stress. Adding a high-quality, high-strength multivitamin and omega 3 fish oil can fill any nutritional gaps. Supplements and Meal Replacements that contain all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants you need every day, can ensure you have enough micronutrients for health and vitality.
When our body is functioning well, we feel good from the inside out, which supports us to really embody self-love from within.
There’s still a lot for science to discover about sleep, however, it has been well established that it plays an essential role in the body’s ability to rebuild, memory, capacity to learn new things, as well as and mental and emotional health.
Conversely, it’s unsurprising to find that being overtired can impair all of the above. Just one or two nights of poor sleep can lead to irritability, fatigue, and decreased motivation, optimism and sociability. Chronic sleep problems are correlated with stress, depression, anxiety, and impaired memory.
Sleep also impacts your network of hormones. In relation to hunger, Leptin – the hormone which tells your body you’ve had enough to eat – and the hormone ghrelin – which is an appetite stimulant. When you’re tired, your body produces less leptin, and more ghrelin. Meaning that when you’re tired, you can actually feel hungrier, and less satisfied after you’ve eaten. Sleep deprivation also prompts your body to release higher levels of insulin after you eat. Insulin controls your blood sugar level. Higher insulin levels promote fat storage and increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Accept when your body says, “I’m tired!”
Our incredible bodies have the capacity to rebuild quite quickly when given the conditions it needs to do so. Accept when your body says, “I’m tired!”
Embracing self-love by getting the sleep your body needs is a hugely valuable investment into your well-being from a holistic standpoint, but specifically on cellular, hormonal, emotional and mental levels too.
“The people we spend our time with can either nourish or drain us.”
The people we spend our time with can either nourish or drain us. Social engagement is associated with a stronger immune system, especially for older adults. Interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression.
Research suggests that one sure way of supporting your mood is to work on building social connections. Loneliness can lead to stress and depression, which in turn can create inflammation throughout the body. With the stress of loneliness and decreased connections, one may experience bloating, digestive issues, and a higher likelihood to get sick.
We can draw strength from the presence and support of others. Healthy relationships “lead to the development of resilience, coping skills, and higher self-esteem,” said Rita Milios, psychotherapist. “In the absence of these crucial connections and the resulting benefits, it’s much easier for isolation to form, which can lead to loneliness.”
“Face-to-face contact releases a whole cascade of neurotransmitters and, like a vaccine, they protect you now, in the present, and well into the future, so simply shaking hands or giving somebody a high-five is enough to release oxytocin, which increases your level of trust, and it lowers your cortisol levels, so it lowers your stress." - Susan Pinker, Psychologist, Author and Social Science Columnist for The Wall Street Journal.
4. Positive Self-talk
Learning to rein in your inner critic and how to have productive, positive inner dialogue has no downside. Some people may find this is their natural tendency, whereas other may find it's a habit that takes more time and effort to implement.
“Positive self-talk is beneficial for our overall health because our thoughts directly control our physiology.”
Positive self-talk is beneficial for our overall health because our thoughts converse directly with our physiology. When overcome by a bad mood, this emotion also manifests physically within our bodies – a tightness in our chests, a tensing of the shoulders. When we’re frightened or anxious, our bodies instinctively react, our hands tremble, our pulse quickens, our lungs tighten.
The opposite also happens – when we’re optimistic and gentle on ourselves, we feel lighter, more energetic and happier and this is a direct result of the message our thoughts are giving our body.
So much of our self-talk is unconscious and unchallenged, but the stories we tell ourselves actually aren't true.
"Ninety-five percent of the beliefs we have stored in our minds are nothing but lies, and we suffer because we believe all these lies."
– Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
How can we shift negative self-talk into something more positive? This can be difficult, especially considering how automatic negative self-talk can be.
To intercept this cycle, simple tip to hold onto, is treat yourself the way you would treat a loved on. The next time you catch a negative or self-sabotaging thought popping into your head, ask yourself how you’d feel if you heard someone saying such a thing to a dear friend or family member of yours.
If you’d feel angry or upset by hearing such things said to someone you care for, should you really dismiss such things being said about yourself? We must be able to cultivate a sense of respect, both for others, but also for ourselves. When we respect ourselves, we’re less tolerant of negative self-talk. We offer Meditation, Emotional freedom Technique, Massage and plenty of well-being treatments that help you think positively about yourself.
In a nutshell, underpinning your habits to create new rituals with energy-giving foods, adequate sleep, beautiful people and positive self-talk are vital factors in health. All of these factors combined with quality nutritional support help us reach optimal health, for the mind and body.
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