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Wellness > Mental Health

My Approaches to Self-Love as an Anxious Person

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

It’s hard to love yourself in a culture that prioritizes your productive value instead of who you are as a person. Many of us tie our self-worth to something visible, like academic accomplishments or long-lasting romantic relationships. It’s as if we need others to see our value to find worth in ourselves. This is much the same with self-love; often, we need to find a justification for loving ourselves, and that reason either ensnares us, stitching our levels of self-love to something like success, our mood, or other’s opinions, or it’s elusive— we can’t find a reason. 

These tactics may work for some, but as a person with severe anxiety, I’ve had to come up with new ways to tackle the problem of self-love. If you’re finding it hard to care for yourself, try these with me.

For those who are anxious they aren’t their “ideal” self: make a “who I am list”

Create a list of aspects you like about yourself, and some habits you’d like to adhere to. For example, If I was having a hard time getting myself up out of bed in the morning, I would put on my list “Caroline gets up at an appropriate time in the morning.” When it comes to my personality, I like that I am a reader, so I’d also put “Caroline reads a lot of books.” Mixing these goals with parts of who you already are, and writing them down as if you are already doing them, makes you feel closer to your ideal self — and you’ll likely find you’re sticking to making these changes. But be reasonable! If you’re only journaling once a month, suddenly trying to do it everyday might be overwhelming. Growth is a step-by-step process. Be kind to yourself.

For those who are anxious about their relationships: listen to your friends

Affirmations are all well and good, but when I’m upset, I can’t simply look in the mirror and start positive talk — I’m much more likely to tear myself down. I am also often doubting my capabilities and accomplishments. This is where others’ perspectives are important. Listen to what your friends say about you, and take note of their invitations. This is especially helpful for anxious people who doubt if their friends like them or if they are worthy of someone’s love. 

Here’s the most important thing: they would not ask to be around you if they didn’t like you. They are making the active choice to extend their hand, and therefore they enjoy you and your presence. These friends are often the best to get perspective from as well. They will validate your accomplishments and feelings, and support you. Listen to them! If it’s too hard to come up with good things about yourself, let others bring it up so you know it’s true.

For those who feel worried about being “boring:” explore new hobbies

Every individual is unique, and it’s a complex mix of personality, environment, and upbringing that makes them so. If you feel like you’re lacking something in your life, or are a “boring person,” let yourself explore different hobbies. Video games, crafting, coding, taking care of animals and people — there are a thousand different activities that can bring you fulfillment and joy. Sometimes, the path to self-love is through our dedication to what we love. If you’re looking to find yourself, you have to allow for exploration.

For those who tend to wallow in their anxiety: make time for true feel-good activities

Self-care activities shouldn’t happen once in a blue moon. They should be a routine part of your life. Even if you’re having a bad day and don’t feel like you deserve to care for yourself, I promise you do. And tomorrow, you’ll be glad you took the time to take a nap, or cook a nice meal, or take a walk. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s not one size fits all — it’s whatever makes you feel better on a deeper level, and doesn’t have negative consequences for your mental health.

For instance, I never have real regrets when I set up an elaborate bath or stay up to read an exciting book. I do know, however, that junk food makes me feel good in the moment, but worse later. Therefore, baths and books are a better self-care for me than sugary snacks. Find what makes you feel truly good — and remember that sometimes, self-love is a fake-it-til-you-make-it thing. Take care of yourself even if you struggle to love yourself, and eventually, if you’re doing the internal work, you’ll make it there.

For those who are affected by their environment: throw “things” out

I am personally someone whose surroundings can greatly change my mental state. I can be upset with myself and stressed, then clean my room, and suddenly I’m positive and acknowledging my values. It’s possible there are blockages to your path to self-love, and this can be anything from your home, the people around you, or other environments you commonly find yourself in. If you can throw away the things that are making you feel constantly stressed (yes, this includes cutting off people who only bring you down), you may find your mental health improving. 

Now, don’t go and stop doing everything that brings you stress — some level of stress is actually good for you, and as social beings there are things we need to adhere to (I am definitely not telling you to skip filing your taxes!). However, while you might not be able to stop working entirely, it’s definitely worth considering changing jobs if your current employer is cruel. You may choose to paint your room a brighter color, or switch majors in university. Adjust your environment, and you may be surprised how much of a difference it makes in your self-love journey.

Self-love can take a long time. It’s not as if people wake up one day filled to the brim with confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of self-worth. It’s something we fight for, and that we learn, over years of our lives. But it’s never too late to start. If the YouTube videos and websites listing typical tricks for self-love aren’t really working, I encourage you to try any of these tips, or to seek your own. There is no more important thing in life than to love yourself; after all, you’re the only person who is with you every single moment for the entirety of your life.

Caroline Lesser

UC Riverside '24

Hiya! I'm Cal, and I'm a fourth year Creative Writing major at the University of California Riverside. In addition to writing and editing for UCR's chapter of HerCampus, I'm focusing on my honors capstone project. I love cozy video games, tea lattes, crochet, and language learning. Aside from articles, I write horror and fantasy.