How Establishing a Healthy Relationship with Yourself Improves Mental Health
Information about building good relationships is easy to come by. Most people understand that making healthy connections with others improves mental health. And that it makes life more enjoyable overall. But there is less emphasis on the importance of having a healthy relationship with yourself.
A good relationship with yourself not only supports good mental health but can also help you be more productive. It can protect your physical health, and improve your relationships with others as well.
What does it mean to have a good relationship with yourself? It means you accept who you are and embrace both your strengths and your flaws. It also means you enjoy spending time alone and engaging in self-care activities.
Self-Love Improves Mental Health
The growing popularity of social media has made it even more difficult for people to feel confident. There are staged “reality” shots, photo filters, and influencers who appear to live perfect lives. Also, their life includes exotic vacations and ultra-organized homes. it makes it even more difficult for viewers to feel good about themselves.
There is a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and nothing could be more true. However, you are constantly inundated with images of beautiful people living charmed lives. And that makes it almost impossible not to compare yourself to others.
There are many ways to improve mental health, and improving your relationship with yourself is one of the most impactful. Consider these five ways self-love impacts your mental health.
1. Gain Confidence
People who lack confidence tend to question every move they make. It is difficult to be happy with any decision — even good ones — when you are constantly doubting yourself and your passions.
Everyone has flaws. Accepting your flaws doesn’t mean you don’t need to work on self-improvement. It means you believe you are worthy of love, success, and happiness despite any flaws. If you want to increase feelings of confidence quickly, take more steps toward self-love.
2. Release Fear
The fear of failure prevents many people from trying things they are interested in. Whether it’s the desire to play a musical instrument or the desire to create a global business empire, the thought of failing can keep you from ever taking the first step.
Failure is part of every successful person’s life. Accepting that you will experience failures along the way can help you feel less anxiety and more joy.
When the brain perceives fear, it produces a chemical cocktail that’s responsible for the “fight or flight” response. People who live in continuous fear risk changing their brain function due to the overproduction of the fight or flight chemicals.
This can negatively impact mental health, mood, and behaviour. The more you grow to love who you are, the less fearful you become.
3. Improve Health Overall
Self-love isn’t all bubble baths and dark chocolate — though there’s nothing wrong with that. It is also about eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and exercise, and seeking medical care when needed, including mental health care.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year. Sadly, only about half of those who could benefit from mental health services seek treatment. Stigma about mental health concerns is partially to blame, and so is inaccessibility.
With the number of those who are struggling with mental health concerns continuing to rise, awareness about the need for treatment services is also rising. Making an appointment with a mental health professional is one of the easiest ways to improve your mental health.
4. Build Healthy Relationships
It is often said you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself. One reason that rings true is that you show other people how to treat you by how you treat yourself. Whether it’s with romantic partners, family members, or friends, if you disrespect yourself, put your needs last, or put yourself down, others will be more likely to do the same.
When you have a healthy relationship with yourself, you attract others who also know how to be in a healthy relationship. Love, respect, and kindness are some of the best things to improve mental health.
5. Process Emotions
Holding onto negative emotions takes a toll on not only your mental health but also your physical health. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that the chronic stress caused by negative emotions can contribute to:
Substance use disorders
High blood pressure
Compromised immune system
The stress caused by negative thinking patterns can also lead to headaches and muscle pain. Self-love helps to break the patterns of negative thinking through acceptance.
Acceptance of your limits, as well as your strengths, helps people process difficult emotions as they arise. Instead of holding onto the pain because you are constantly questioning your decisions or lack of appeal, accept the situation for what it is by embracing self-love.
You are not perfect and may have made some mistakes, but that’s okay. You are still a person who is worthy of healthy relationships.
Ways to Improve Mental Health and Create a Better Relationship with Yourself
Even if you already have a good relationship with yourself, these strategies can help you improve it.
1. Identify Your Strengths
Valuing your abilities is a great way to build self-confidence. Write a list of your strengths and read it anytime you feel doubtful about your abilities. If this exercise is too challenging, and you can’t think of many strengths, ask others what positive traits they see in you.
2. Take Care of Essential Needs
What is it you need to feel happy and healthy today? Maybe it is a nutritious dinner, a new job, time alone, or time with someone you love. If you’re having a down day, think of things to improve mental health and do them for yourself.
3. Spend Time Alone
Just like you can’t get to know another person if you don’t spend time with them, you can’t truly get to know yourself if you don’t make an effort to do so. Journal writing is an effective way to bypass your conscious mind and discover things about yourself you may not have realized.
Write about your core beliefs, goals, or current challenges. After doing this kind of deep work, treat yourself to a nice dinner or a refreshing nap.
4. Improve Your Inner Dialogue
If you had a friend who constantly hurled criticisms and insults at you all day, you probably wouldn’t be friends with them for very long. Yet many people treat themselves this way day in and day out.
An unhealthy inner dialogue can decrease self-confidence and increase feelings of shame. You may be amazed at how some compassionate self-talk will turn your whole day around.
More Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
If you’re experiencing symptoms of poor mental health, reach out to a trusted friend or mental health professional. Ignoring symptoms won’t make them go away. In fact, in most cases, mental health symptoms get worse without treatment. Seeking the health care you need is an important part of building a good relationship with yourself.