Love yourself. I’ve learned to live by these words; it’s only taken me nearly two decades to figure out putting myself first is necessary, not narcissistic.
I have had a long battle with severe depression throughout most of high school. Some days, I’m surprised I’m still here. I’ll be completely honest here: I wasn’t in the best place. I self-harmed, I had thoughts of suicide. I wouldn’t shower, I wouldn’t let myself eat. I was literally my own worst enemy.
Somewhere along the line, something clicked (maybe it was the Prozac or the countless hours spent in the therapists’ office or the scars on my wrist staring back at me, who knows?), but I decided to stop treating myself worse than dirt.
I started by looking at myself in the mirror and not loathing that girl staring back. I realized “hey, she’s not too bad.” That turned into “wow, she’s actually gorgeous,” and then eventually “wait that beautiful girl is me.”
The difference? I would take more time to focus on myself. Usually, I’d wake up, throw my hair up in a ponytail, find a clean-ish shirt and pants (sometimes digging something out of the hamper, sniffing it and deciding if I could get one more wear out of it), then race out the door. I was the poster child for shabbiness.
I’m not saying I don’t find myself beautiful without makeup because I did struggle with that at one point as well, but taking just a few moments to focus on yourself (yes, putting yourself first for once!) is alright.
There’s so many different ways to put yourself first. For one, actually take naps. Listen to your body. When it tells you it’s exhausted, listen. Pamper yourself. Set aside spa days, buy those face masks you always pass up, and use them while having a Netflix marathon. I’ve started doing face masks once or twice a week, and both my mind and skin thank me.
I always thought the idea of meditation was complete and utter nonsense. But after breaking down and buying a self-help book (another concept I’ve always thought was rubbish), and I really started to give into the whole idea of sitting absolutely still for a few minutes every day and just focus on my body, my breathing. Meditation definitely helps me destress after a long day; if you’re having a rough day I would definitely recommend trying it out at least once.
Another way I’ve started to love myself is by actually going outside and not spending all my time as a hermit holed up in my room. It’s necessary to get fresh air and sunlight.
A couple years ago, I suffered from a severe vitamin D deficiency, to the point that I had less than half the amount of vitamin D a healthy person should have. My doctor literally ordered me to go outside (as well as to take supplements). Now, when I’ve spent far too long inside, I’ll grab a book, a blanket, and my headphones and head outside to lay out and relax, getting wrapped up in my favorite book at the moment.
Maybe all of these things I do sound absolutely stupid and like a waste of time to you, and that’s fine. You have to find what works for you and what makes you happy. It might take some trial and error until you find those few things that are just perfect for you, then keep going out and doing them.
You, along with everyone else in this world deserve to be happy, and the only way that will happen is by taking some time to put yourself first and listen to your mind and body and most importantly, love yourself.
Follow Angela Garza on Twitter: @angarza15