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The journey to self-love is one of the most important we take as humans. It is the path to a freer, more content life. When you have inner peace in yourself, and deeply accept yourself for who you are, not only will you let go of the mental baggage that comes with constantly scrutinising yourself, but you can also give to others from a place of non-judgement, as the fear of not being as good as others diminishes and you give unconditionally, accepting people as they are without judging yourself against them. 

Journaling is a great method to connect with the deeper feelings we don’t usually explore and can help reframe insecurities and shift our mindset to consider a situation differently. If we understand the root of the issue, and have more of an awareness of our drives, desires and insecurities, we can move more consciously through life, and begin to heal the areas that need work. 

With that, here are 10 journal prompts to guide you in nurturing the most important relationship in your life, the one with yourself.

1. list 30 things you’re grateful for relating to your body

30 can seem like a lot so imagine if you don’t write something down, you wouldn’t have that part of you anymore. Gratitude is an integral element of any self-love or acceptance journey. Your brain is designed to look for evidence to support what you already think is true. If you believe you aren’t worthy of love, your subconscious will only look for evidence to support this belief, and will ignore any evidence to the contrary. By focusing on what you are grateful for, and intentionally focusing on the positive aspects, no matter how small, your subconscious will look for and notice more things you can be grateful for. 

2. what brings my mind joy? How can I make time for these things?

This can be as simple as sunshine in the morning, a good home cooked meal, your morning walk, chatting with an old friend, and then remember to make time for enjoying these things.

3. what brings my body joy?

Self-love isn’t just the journey of loving your body’s physical appearance. Considering what makes your body feel good, how it moves and what it does for you day to day can unlock a deeper appreciation beyond the reflection in the mirror.

4. what reasons do I move my body other than for physical gains?

Exercise is a brilliant tool for practising self-love, but only if it’s supported with a healthy mindset. It’s easy to become obsessed with physical improvements and can result in a hyper-awareness of everything you wanted to change that isn’t, causing you to feel worse about your body than when you weren’t exercising at all! Focusing on all the reasons for exercising other than body image can nurture a more positive relationship with exercising. For example ‘I move my body because I like feeling strong and capable’, ‘I’m looking after it in the same way I look after my mind’ or ‘I release tension and negative emotions through the release of endorphins’ can help foster this positive mindset.

5. What have people said I’m good at / complimented me on?

If you’re having a confidence wobble, lean on the people around you by noting all the compliments and positive comments you can remember receiving, and feel the love from all the people who think you’re great. It’s also nice to keep a folder on your laptop with screenshots from nice emails that told you how well you did at a job or project for those days when you’re feeling down.

6. what are my small wins this week and what positive quality does this demonstrate in my character?

University life is hectic, give yourself credit for all the things you juggle in a week and what qualities help you manage all the different elements of your life. 

7. Write a letter to your yonger self. What would you want to tell them about self-love?

Sometimes taking a step outside of your current state gives room for new perspectives and truths to emerge. The advice you would give to your younger self will most likely be relevant to you now, and can be incredibly cathartic in expressing hidden emotions and accepting yourself as you are. 

8. what do I struggle to love most about myself? What can I do to begin to love that part of myself?

Self-love can sometimes seem an unattainable goal; practising acceptance towards the parts you don’t love can be a good starting point. 

9. What am I proud of for achieving in the last year?

You are unique and there is no-one with the same set of qualities as you. What have you achieved this year to make you proud? They don’t have to be new things, maintaining good habits is an achievement worth commending!

10. What unique qualities do I have that make me a good friend to others?

This will help you notice the qualities you have that others value. We are our worst critics and most of the time nobody else notices the things we worry about, they just see the things you’re great at!

Whatever resonates with you from this list, grab a cuppa, find a quiet spot, shut off the distractions and start journaling. I guarantee you’ll be grateful you did!

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Holly Cove

Exeter '22

I'm a third year studying Drama at the University of Exeter with a passion for mindfulness, spirituality and the arts.
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