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12 Habits for Developing Greater Self-Love

Self-love is often something we find quite challenging. It can seem self-centered or indulgent, especially for those who are mothers or partners. How often do you put others’ needs before your own? As a mother, I often took the burned bits of toast, let my son have the last chocolate, or went without the ice cream because we couldn’t quite afford one for everyone.

But developing and nurturing loving kindness toward ourselves is an important part of health, healing and happiness. So to kick-start us on that journey, here are some helpful tips:

  1. Set an intention for every day.
    It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. It could be as simple as making time for a coffee break.
  2. Be in nature.
    Take time every day to spend some time in nature, in your garden, in a park, or at the beach. Nature is very healing and soothing. It allows us to get in touch with all our senses — smell the flowers, feel the air or sun on your skin, hear the birds or the waves, watch a sunset or a sunrise, taste the salt on your lip.
  3. End all your toxic relationships.
    Do it now. Anyone who doesn’t make you feel amazing doesn’t deserve to be in your life.
  4. Keep a gratitude journal.
    Write down at the end of each day all things that you’re grateful for, no matter how simple and small. It could be the sun shining through the window, the hugs you get from your kids, the smile you got from the lady in the shop.
  5. Move your beautiful body.
    Getting touch with our bodies is healing and calming. Take a yoga class or just do some simple mindful movement like finger flicking or peeling off a top. You’ll be amazed how much these can de-stress you.
  6. Learn to say no.
    Remember it’s OK to do this and learn to stay within your limits. There’s no need to feel guilty and smart people know when to say no.
  7. Enjoy your food.
    Cook a simple meal, take time to enjoy the smell and taste of your food. Or sip and savor your morning coffee and feel how this helps to focus your mind and in turn calms you down.
  8. Have a big, deep belly laugh.
    It’s a great workout for your inner organs and the rush of oxytocin will balance out the cortisol and other stress hormones and give you a real lift.
  9. Be creative.
    Dance, sing, paint, draw, color. Have fun doing it. Release your inner child.
  10. Keep your inner critic at bay.
    Don’t let that nasty little inner voice tell you that you’re not good enough. Remember thoughts are not facts, they’re just a stream of mental events.
  11. Calm yourself.
    If you can, meditate. Meditation is the ultimate kindness to yourself. Find time to sit quietly at some point in the day even if it’s only for five or 10 minutes. Connect deeply with yourself without judgment or trying to make anything happen.
  12. Be kind and patient with yourself.
    Remember, self-love takes time but it’s worth it!

Morning coffee photo available from Shutterstock

12 Habits for Developing Greater Self-Love

Clarissa Hughes, PhD

Dr. Clarissa Hughes (Ph.D) is Sydney’s specialist in Mindfulness for Health. A former corporate high-flyer, Clarissa is a qualified practitioner of Mindfulness for Health and Stress, and iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation. She provides mindfulness and meditation programs for individuals and organisations through her company Nen Consulting.

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APA Reference
Hughes, C. (2018). 12 Habits for Developing Greater Self-Love. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 18 Nov 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.