Learn to Appreciate Yourself With These Self-Love Exercises
I can’t do this.
I’m not worthy.
Why am I so fat/ugly/stupid?
We all have moments where we succumb to self-berating, but if thoughts like these are regular visitors in your head, then you need a good dose of self-love.
I know, it’s not easy. You’re so used to admiring other people or taking care of others that the idea of appreciating and taking care of yourself seems foreign—perhaps even preposterous.
But hey, nobody who lacks self-esteem just wakes up one morning with an abundance of self-esteem—it’s a process. If you’re tired of feeling like you’re never good enough, then keep reading—I’m going to show you 16 self-love exercises that will help transform how you see yourself.
16 Powerful Self Love Exercises to Boost Your Self-Esteem
1. Learn How to Dress for Your Body Shape
Do you feel like nothing in your closet looks right on you? Everything you wear seems to confirm the nasty thoughts you have about yourself.
I used to feel this way too—until I realized I’d been dressing in the wrong clothes for my body shape for YEARS.
I was doing what I’d learned from my thrifty mother—buying whatever that was on sale and looked half decent. I chose clothes that I perceived to be a “good deal” instead of what was really right for me.
But lately, I’ve been watching Youtube videos on how to dress for my body type, and after switching to clothes that actually flatter my body shape and opting for quality instead of quantity, I’m starting to appreciate my body more and more—wide shoulders, straight waist, flat butt and all.
So stop punishing yourself for having the body you have. Instead, start dressing in ways that play up your strengths. Trust me, you will learn to appreciate the body you’re in.
2. Make More Room…Literally
Clutter hogs more than just the physical space around you—it actually invades your mental space and erodes your sense of wellbeing.
How can you feel better about yourself when you’re surrounded by piles and piles of lifeless things? As someone who used to live in a home filled with clutter, I can tell you that clutter is not only an invisible source of stress, it can deepen your feelings of shame and guilt. For years I was afraid to let friends visit because I was ashamed of the clutter in our home. Once I started a clutter-free life, I felt as if a heavy rock had been lifted off of me. I felt more comfortable not just living in my own home, but also living in my own skin.
So make more room. Give your body and your soul the space they need to rest, nourish, and grow. What’s greater self-love than that?
3. Say No for a Change
Here’s a self-love technique that’s going to make the people-pleaser in you nervous.
I want you to say the word “no”.
Not “I’ll think about it.”
Not “maybe…ok fine.”
And definitely not “I can’t, but I’m so sorry! (insert apology x5)
Just straight up “no”.
I can see you sweating a little bit through the screen.
Remember this: “No” is not a nasty word. And a lot of times, saying “no” is not only a good idea—it’s necessary for the preservation of your own health and sanity.
So don’t be afraid to say it—politely but firmly. Especially in the following situations:
- when you’re being asked to do you don’t HAVE to do and you secretly don’t really want to do;
- when your energy and resources are stretched already, or;
- when you’re given less than what you deserve or put at an unfair disadvantage
If someone really cares about you, they won’t judge you. Don’t give a second thought to those who turn their backs on you just because you exercised your right to say “no”—they’re not worth wasting your mental energy.
4. Smile in the Mirror
We all smile when we feel good, but here’s the plot twist—the act of smiling can also make us feel good when we’re not in the best mood.
Look at yourself in the mirror. Try doing a frown first, rest your face for a few seconds, and then smile.
Now don’t be shy, we’re not copying the Mona Lisa here—none of that “are you really smiling” face. Give yourself a big grin. Ear to ear. If your eyes are not squinting you’re slacking.
You’ll feel instantly more confident, energetic, and uplifted.
Don’t believe me? Give it a try now.
5. Turn Off Your Phone for 24 Hours
We’re often so enthralled by this digital rectangle and the world that it projects in front of us, that we forget to look inward and appreciate the world we have within ourselves—and its beauty.
So I challenge you to turn off your phone for 24 hours. Pick a day when you’re not expected to be anywhere or do anything—and just disappear digitally for 24 hours.
You’ll find that when you’re not constantly texting, answering emails, or scrolling through your social media feed, you’ll have plenty of time to reflect on your life’s journey, engage in a hobby that makes you feel fulfilled, or just let your soul stretch out and truly relax.
Probably a good idea to tell your family and friends about your plan ahead of time though, so they don’t call the police and report you missing.
6. Write Down Your Accomplishments…No Matter How Small
Do you have a tendency to dwell on your past mistakes or criticize yourself over things you can’t do?
One of the best ways to combat this habit is to write down your accomplishments regularly, no matter how small they are.
You could start a daily, weekly, or monthly journal where you list the things you’ve accomplished. For example, you took a 15-minute walk 3 times this week, or you received praise from a client at work. Once you start writing them down, you’ll be surprised how many little—and big—accomplishments you have to be proud of.
7. Do Something Nice for Yourself Once a Week
You probably spend a lot of time doing nice things for other people, but when was the last time you did something nice for yourself?
Whether it’s sleeping in, making your favourite meal, or treating yourself to a professional massage—make it a ritual to do something nice just for yourself once a week.
8. Enjoy Alone Time
Do you feel sad or bored when you’re by yourself? Alone time doesn’t have to feel lonely—on the contrary, alone time can be fun and deeply fulfilling.
And when you’ve learned to enjoy spending time not just by yourself, but WITH yourself, you’ll discover more self-love too.
9. Get Your Heart Rate Up
Exercise is a surefire way to make you feel better about yourself.
Various studies have confirmed the positive effects exercise has on not just our physical, but mental health.
But if you’re like me and dread the idea of running on a treadmill, remember there are many ways to get your heart rate up and have lots of fun at the same time.
You up for a dance?
10. Challenge Negative Thoughts You Have About Yourself
“You’re never going to reach your goal.”
“You’re always making stupid mistakes.”
These are not things you would ever say to someone you care about, so then, why do you say these mean things to yourself?
The next time you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts about yourself, ask yourself this:
- Are these thoughts really logical? Hint: thoughts that have the words “never” or “always” are illogical.
- What triggers these thoughts and what can I do to prevent them? For me, I know I feel worse about myself every winter when sunlight wanes, so I make sure I do these things to combat the winter blues.
- If I had to come up with a rebuttal for these thoughts, what would I say? Pretend you’re a national debate champion.
When you challenge your negative thoughts often enough, you’ll stop letting them take you over. And that’s when your self-love will truly blossom.
11. Correct Your Posture
We’ve all heard that standing tall or sitting up straight can make us appear more confident, but study shows that correcting our posture does actually give us more confidence in our own thoughts.
So if you want to gain more self-esteem, pull your shoulders back and hold your head high. When you look more confident, you’ll feel more powerful too.
12. Stop Apologizing for 48 Hours
How many times a day do you say the words “I’m sorry”?
As a Canadian, I say these words a lot. We’re kind of famous for being over-apologizers. But I know I got to stop.
Why? Because not only can over-apologizing make people think less of you, but it can also decrease your own self-esteem.
So I challenge you to do this as your next self-love activity:
Stop apologizing for 48 hours. Unless, of course, you really did something wrong—and it’s not something trivial like forgetting to hold the door open for the person behind you.
Unless you’re a Canadian like me, then not holding the door open for others is a grave sin.
13. Do Something You Wouldn’t Normally Do
Step outside your comfort zone and say yes to something you wouldn’t normally do. You just might discover a new side of yourself that amazes you—while having a lot of fun in the process.
Unless it’s something super illegal…then maybe not.
14. Create Something
Creativity helps build self-esteem.
Whether it’s writing a tune, drawing a sketch, or making a pottery piece—create something with your hands and imagination.
You may not always love what you come up with (like the ugly whale planter I once made in a pottery session), but you’ll learn to appreciate your artistic side and love yourself more in the process.
15. Give Yourself a 5-minute Meditation Break Everyday
We sadly live in a world where stress and chaos are the norm. But there are things we can do to help us remain calm in the storm—and one of them is a regular meditation practice.
Not only can meditation train you to become more aware of your inner self, but it will also help you learn to let go of obsessive thoughts—often negative ones. For these reasons, I believe meditation is truly one of the best self-love activities you can do every day.
Start with just 5 minutes a day and you’ll notice a difference.
16. Accept a Compliment
Next time someone pays you a compliment, instead of shying away and saying “nah..you’re too kind” or something to that effect—own it.
Look the person in the eye and say: “Thank you.”
And stop telling yourself in your head that the person didn’t really mean it or they’re being too kind. Accept the compliment fully and graciously.
Someone noticed your strength. It’s time for you to recognize it too.
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