3 daily exercises to improve your self-love skills

Could you benefit from being kinder to yourself? Throughout the day, we devote a substantial amount of energy to expressing empathy, compassion, and love to those who mean the most in our lives. We write words of encouragement on cards, compliment a friend’s new outfit, call to check in, and listen patiently to those in need. And yet, many of us rarely show these acts of kindness to ourselves. Rather, we tend to be our own harshest critic. Ultimately, this deprives us of feeling fulfilled, happy, and at peace in our skin.

Now more than ever, it is important to establish ways in which you can be more compassionate with yourself. Cultivating this life-enhancing skill extends far beyond simply feeling happier. Taking care of and accepting yourself is the foundation for better health, stronger relationships, higher self-esteem, and motivation to make healthier choices.

Try these three exercises to help strengthen your self-love skills.

Daily exercise strengthens the heart, builds lung endurance, eliminates stress and reduces the risk of deadly diseases. The purpose of exercising is to improve our quality of life. And while this should be motivation enough, society has downplayed these monumental benefits by overvaluing the superficial advantages of aerobics, like being skinny or looking like influential celebrities who only look the way they do with the help of expensive personal chefs, fitness trainers and make-up artists.

Trying to live up to these unhealthy and unrealistic expectations can leave us feeling inferior and unworthy, especially for younger adults during their developmental years. Exercise should be empowering and a celebration of all that your body can achieve. You can’t look good on the outside unless you feel good on the inside. Refocus your fitness goals from dropping the numbers on the scale or trying to be like everyone else to a deeper purpose, like feeling stronger and healthier. Only then will exercise seem like a blessing, rather than a burden.

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If you feel overwhelmed, an easy way to control stress is to learn better breathing techniques.

Breathing is both a voluntary and an involuntary function. Our body automatically controls this life-sustaining process throughout the day. However, the quality with which we breathe is entirely up to us. When we experience stress, our body reacts by inhaling shorter, faster breaths that fill the chest instead of the belly. When this happens, we hyperventilate. This triggers a series of frightening symptoms, including dizziness, tingling, and chest tightness. It can cause panic attacks and make us feel bad.

By mastering the art of breathing, we can better manage these symptoms before they start, or even in the midst of a stressful situation. To do this, spend five minutes each day practicing the following relaxation exercise. Like any workout, daily repetitions are needed to strengthen this skill.

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

  • Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.

  • Take a deep, slow breath through your nose, allowing it to fill your belly and not your chest. Hold it here for three or four counts.

  • Keep your jaw relaxed with your lips slightly pursed as you exhale slowly through your mouth. You should feel the hand on your belly submerge until you have expelled all the air. Continue this 10 times. Reflect on how you feel before and after this exercise.

Looking in the mirror or working out in an unfamiliar gym, we can become our own worst enemy with self-talk stemming from shame or guilt like, “I’m fat” or “You’re stupid to think you could fit in.” here.” It’s like being your own bully.

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In these moments we must stop and ask ourselves, “How would we treat a friend in the same situation?” Most likely, you would never speak in such a cruel tone. He would be patient, understanding, and think of ways to solve the problem.

For this exercise, write down five traits you would want in a friend. Review your answers and, in the future, make these attributes your new tone for self-talk.

The most important relationship you will ever be in is the one you have with yourself.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a Certified Personal Trainer and Wellness Coach in South Jersey. Learn more about her virtual training program at ashleyblakefitness.com.

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