One of the cruelest things about living with a mental illness is that it becomes your bully. It zaps your self-esteem, and it makes you believe what stigma says about people with mental illness. To help you regain perspective about yourself, here are some reasons to love yourself:
- You have hopes, dreams, and goals. Mental illness can make them difficult to realize, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Life visions don’t have a minimum speed limit, and they can’t be forced off the road.
- You have your own set of values and sense of what’s important to you. Having a mental illness doesn’t mean you don’t believe in anything.
- You have unique abilities and talents. Certain things are happening in your brain that can make life difficult, but there’s more to you than those things.
- You have character strengths inherent within you. They are a large part of who you are. Your illness is not.
- Even on your very worst days, you are you. You’re surviving. You have a spark inside you that never stops glowing. Your illness might at times cast a shadow over it, but it can’t extinguish that inner glow. By calling on your dreams, goals, values, abilities, talents, and character strengths, you can gradually make that spark ignite into a flame.
Learn to love yourself
Loving yourself when you have a mental illness isn’t always easy. It’s already difficult enough to maintain self-love in a society that actively promotes insecurity and self-hate, but when you struggle with mental illness, it’s almost impossible to feel lovable sometimes.
Why are those struggling with mental illness so unreasonably hard on themselves? If you’re having a hard time combating the external stigma against your own mental illness, try to employ these tips to silence your inner critic.
- Praise yourself.
Criticism perpetuates negativity. Being kind and gentle to yourself is one of the most important things you can do for your mental health. If an individual, or society as a whole, doesn’t understand you or your mental illness, don’t take it personally. You can’t blame yourself for other peoples’ ignorance.
- Take care of your body.
Your emotional health is directly dependent on your physical health. Give your body the nutrients it needs, get enough sleep, and don’t become dependent on alcohol or drugs to make you feel better.
- Work toward goals.
As you work on self-love, you might want to think about, or even write down, some of your goals for recovery. These can be as small as getting out of bed in the morning, going to class, or complimenting yourself regularly. Give yourself credit when you get closer to reaching a goal.
- Do something you enjoy every day.
When I feel myself get overwhelmed with my blogging, I take frequent breaks to stretch my legs, write in my journal, or play music. I can get absorbed by little tasks like these, and it keeps me from giving in to negative emotions.
- Find ways to relax.
Meditaton and listening to music are a couple of great ways to relax.
- Let yourself feel.
Having a mental illness does not invalidate your feelings. Sometimes you need to embrace your emotions and just let yourself feel what you’re feeling. At the same time, try to look at your own emotions objectively and think about the reality of the situation. You may believe your anxiety when it tells you that everyone hates you, but in reality, that’s almost never the case.
- Make peace with your body.
- Ask for help.