Some mornings you wake up with negative thoughts that just don’t seem to go away. Luckily, the secret weapon to combating our inner self-critic lies within us.
We’re talking about self-love ― the appreciation and acceptance of oneself — a key to a happy and fulfilling life.
“Intentionally engaging in self-love habits can help you build a stronger relationship with yourself and contribute to greater self-esteem and confidence.” said Julia Jarrold, a therapist and a clinical content manager at Real, an online mental health platform.
So, how do we cultivate it? HuffPost spoke with mental health professionals about habits to try first thing in the morning to start the day loving yourself.
Take five minutes to meditate
Meditation helps quiet your mind and refocus your attention to the present. Spend five minutes doing a quiet meditation, focusing on self-love and your inner strengths.
“A morning meditation offers you a sense of calm. During the day, when things become stressful, you can think about your empowering meditation,” said Kristin Meekhof, a therapist and author of “A Widow’s Guide to Healing.”
Make your bed
“I highly recommend making your bed in the morning,” said Rebecca Leslie, a psychologist based in Atlanta. “By doing this, you are starting your day accomplishing something and prioritizing yourself.”
Starting your day off with an accomplishment is super helpful for your mood and self-esteem.
Think about a place that makes you happy
Mindfulness can help alleviate stress, increase focus and reduce any tension you may be experiencing.
“We each have a special place where we recharge, “said Regine Muradian, a psychologist based in Glendale, California. “Recharging is how we take care of ourselves and listen to what our body needs. My special place is the ocean as it cultivates a sense of calm and bliss.”
In order to find this place for yourself, close your eyes and think about a destination that makes you happy.
Read an affirmation aloud to yourself
“Reading an affirmation first thing in the morning can help you deflect any self-defeating thoughts that may come to your mind. Saying it proactively gives you a chance to set intention for positive thoughts and self-image,” said Brittany Johnson, a therapist based in New Albany, Indiana.
Johnson’s favorite affirmation that she says to herself every day is “I am who I am and I am exactly who and where I need to be.”
Focus on something you are grateful for
Expressing gratitude has been associated with better mood and greater self-esteem.
“Keep a flow of gratitude at the beginning of your day by identifying an experience you are thankful for,” said Lia Mancao, a psychotherapist in California and owner of Alyssa Marie Wellness. “This helps with starting the day on a positive note and assists with improving our sense of self.”
Take a deep breath
Deep breathing is a practice that can evoke feelings of calmness and peacefulness.
“I recommend spending at least a minute to take a deep breath each morning. Giving yourself permission to take a minute out of each day to focus on the present moment may improve your self-esteem and reduce your stress level,” said Nekeshia Hammond, a psychologist, author and speaker based in Florida.
Engage in mindful movement
Mindful movement in the morning, like light stretching in your bed before you get up, can start your day off on the right foot, said Madeline Lucas, a therapist and a clinical content manager at Real.
“This seemingly small act of self-love communicates to your system and soul that, ‘I matter.’” she said.
Thank your body
After you wake up, spend a few minutes thanking your body for what it’s done for you.
“It’s especially helpful during those inevitable moments of frustration — when you’re too tired to exercise, hurting somewhere, or unhappy with how you look,” said Neha Chaudhary, the chief medical officer of BeMe Health. “Focusing on the beautiful things your body has done just to keep you going can help reframe some of the negative thoughts to positive ones of gratitude and self-compassion.”