LETTER | The whole world including Malaysia is experiencing seismic changes because of the Covid-19 outbreak. Our lives have been flipped upside down as we were forced to quickly adapt to a new normal or a new way of living and interacting with people.
We experienced a major adjustment since early March last year, making us to live in constant fear for our health, financial security and social lives. We also have been challenged physically, mentally and emotionally every day. As a consequence, we end up being too hard on ourselves without even realising it and feel burnt out.
However, we have to give ourselves some time to rest and re-charge. Needing a break is nothing to feel guilty about. So, step back, breathe and learn to love yourself more. Practising self-love is important today, especially during this time of uncertainty. Many people view the concept of self-love as an overblown theory, hence they often overlook its significance. So, how do we define self-love? Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good about yourself. It goes beyond that.
Self-love is about appreciating yourself that grows from actions that support your physical, psychological and spiritual growth. Self-love also means having a high standard for your own well-being and happiness. It means putting value in yourself and not settling for less than you deserve.
Apart from that, self-love is about self-acceptance. It means embracing your strengths, your weaknesses and everything in between. Thus, self-love is exactly what it sounds like as in love yourself. It means loving all aspects of yourself. So, how does one even begin to practise self-love? Here are some ways for self-love that are simple in practice and multifaceted in their benefits.
First and foremost, stop comparing yourself to others. Modern society is shaped in such a way that we are bound to constantly compete and compare against each other to determine our self-worth. However, President Theodore Roosevelt once said that comparison is the thief of joy.
Hence, stop the comparisons specifically during this pandemic where each person is facing different difficulties and struggles. Besides, you also cannot compare your life to someone else because each person is born and grows differently. When you stop comparing, then you will feel secure about yourself and be happier.
Next, you need to allow yourself to make mistakes. You are human. No one is perfect and you cannot expect yourself to be so. Stop pushing yourself too hard to strive for perfection in everything you do. It is important to give yourself a break as you can be your own worst enemy at times. Thus, allow yourself to make mistakes. Then, forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made and put them down as part of your experience in life. Moreover, self-love means giving yourself permission to learn and grow from who you once were into who you are today and who you will be one day.
In addition, you have to work on your self-trust. We often doubt ourselves, wondering whether we can make a good decision or do the right thing for our own lives. However, remember that you know yourself better than anyone else and you are most likely to know what is best for yourself. Doubting and underestimating yourself will hold you back from reaching your true happiness. Hence, believe in yourself and have faith in your judgement. After all, self-trust is one of the steps to self-love.
Apart from that, you need to accept your feelings and emotions. No one is happy all the time as we experience a variety of emotions throughout our lives. Besides, we are facing many challenges that can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions during this pandemic.
Recognise and learn to accept all of your emotions including pain, sadness, fear, anger, loneliness or frustration instead of brushing them off. To be human is to be both stormy and sunny. When you can accept your feelings and emotions, then you will feel it becomes easier to love yourself. Moreover, learning to check in on your emotional state is the basis of a good self-care routine.
Learning to say no to others is another way to love yourself. We are used to saying yes to please others. We also find it difficult to say no because we are too concerned with being polite and not letting people down. However, remember that you are turning down a request and not a person. People usually will understand that it is your right to say no, just as it is their right to ask the favour. Live your life for yourself and not for anyone else. Hence, never hesitate to set a healthy boundary. You also have to give yourself the space to stand in control of your own life and learn to say no to others.
Then, learn to practise self-love by being kind to yourself. Self-kindness is an important part of healthy living that should be included in your daily routine. Be kind to yourself by deeply respecting yourself as self-respect means valuing yourself for who you are and not allowing others to dictate your value. You also can be kind to yourself by treating yourself with the same consideration, concern and support that you show to other people. Then, be kind to yourself by acknowledging your own achievements and give yourself recognition. Honestly, being kind to ourselves is one of many things in life that looks simple but not always easy.
Last but not least, treat yourself well. You can start with pampering yourself by giving some time for yourself to do something that brings you joy every day. Find one simple activity that you love which you can do at home during this lockdown such as watching movies or painting. You also need to take good care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods and getting some form of exercise on a regular basis. Besides, you can treat yourself well by giving affirmation and encouragement to yourself every day.
All in all, it is important to practise self-love, especially during this pandemic to improve mental health and achieve true happiness. After all, if you cannot love yourself, how do you expect anyone else to do so?
NUR AMIRAH MOHD HAPIPI is a student with Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.