Looking at the people in your life, you may think you know them. But chances are there’s a lot they’re not telling you. I once heard someone say that the hardest thing to do in this world is live in it, and if you’re someone secretly dealing with your inner demons, this is true.
When life is constantly throwing challenges at you it’s hard to not fall into a dark place where you just hate yourself and hate your life.
Everyone’s experience is different, and everyone has to go through their own journey of self-care to come to a place where they love and accept themselves.
Natalie Dumas, a 21-year-old first-year occupational and physiotherapy assistant student at Algonquin, was 15 when she started to feel depression taking over her life. Dumas had to work past self-harm, eating problems, anxiety, self deprecation, and many other challenges to get to where she is today.
Kelsey Marion, a 21-year-old fourth-year social work student at Carleton University struggled with physical and internal insecurities that led her to have a negative view of herself and her life. Marion found herself in a place where she was constantly feeling dark and unhappy. She wasn’t treating herself right. She realized she would never say to anyone the terrible things she was saying to herself. She knew she needed to change.
When you start to feel yourself falling into that constant state of darkness, hatred and negativity towards yourself, it’s important that you do what you can to self-care and get back to the happier, self-accepting and self-loving place you need to be.
It’s a long process, and definitely not an easy one. But there are five steps you can take to self-care and start yourself on your path to self-love.
- Talk to someone
“Students think that asking for help makes them a lesser person,” says Karen Gendron, student success specialist at Algonquin. “Like asking for help is a sign of weakness, but it’s not. It’s a sign of strength. Talking to someone you trust is an important piece of self-care.”
Sharing with someone how you’re feeling and the things you are going through can seem impossible. But confiding in someone you trust will give you the best kind of support system you need to start getting to a place of self-love.
“If there’s one thing I learned, it’s that I should have talked to someone sooner,” says Dumas. “Whether it’s a medical professional or a friend, it’s good to tell someone. I never thought anyone could understand, but once I told a close friend of mine what I was going through, I found out she was having a similar experience and we became a support group to each other.”
- Find an outlet
“Having an outlet is essential,” says Gendron. “Putting your time and energy into more positive activities will nurture your soul and bad spirits and allow you to take the time to self-care for yourself. Having an outlet can restore your positive energy and hope.”
When you’re unhappy with your life and who you are, its easy to put all your effort into all the negative things that make you feel worse. It’s important to find an outlet, something fun that you enjoy and channel that effort you normally put towards something negative into something positive.
“I have developed a deep passion for art therapy,” says Marion. “Trying out different forms of art opened up different ways to express my feelings and understand my inner self. Now whenever I’m feeling dark or negative, I use art as a positive and creative outlet and in the end it gives me something to look back on and feel proud of.”
- Surround yourself with the right kind of people
“If you surround yourself with people who have a negative view on the world, you are going to absorb that,” says Gendron. “It’s important to stay away from the toxic people and surround ourselves with people who will have a positive impact on you and be happy for you and encourage you in life.”
We feed off of the energy of the people we are around, so it’s important to spend your time with people who are going to bring you and your mood up, rather than down.
“You need to recognize the people you surround yourself with,” says Marion. “The people you spend time with effect how you feel so it’s important to surround yourself with positive people who turn into positive support. I’m lucky to have a solid group of close friends who do that.”
- Take care of yourself physically
“It’s very important to take care of yourself physically,” says Gendron. “Eating well, sleeping well, taking complete care of your holistic wellbeing is important because that’s what will give you the energy to change things.”
This was something Dumas realized she needed to implement in her life.
“Before I could fully start feeling better mentally I need to take care of myself physically,” says Dumas. “During this time I got hardly any sleep, I was barely eating, skipping meals to the point where I actually weighed about 100 pounds and I didn’t have the energy to do anything other than lay in bed all day.”
Dumas knew she needed to develop better physical habits and help her body feel better so she could allow her mind to get better.
“I started running and being more active,” says Dumas. “Running is something I do regularly now. I needed to eat more so I fixed my diet, and I improved my sleeping habits. Slowly I started to feel like I had more energy, and it felt great to put in the effort and reach a goal.”
- Tell yourself it will be okay
“It’s important that anyone going through this understands that it will pass,” says Gendron. “Nothing stays the same forever, and if you take it slow, implementing one positive change in your life everyday, you will feel better.”
When you’re in a dark place it’s easy to tell yourself and feel like it’s always going to be that way, but it won’t.
“Keep going,” says Dumas. “That’s what I kept telling myself. Logically I knew it was going to pass so I just kept telling myself to take it one day at a time, to do what I need to live and to just keep going.”
With some patience and a positive outlook on your life, things can and will get better.
“Positivity is infectious,” says Marion. “It’s infectious and addictive and you’ll never want to go back to hating yourself again.”
Everyone’s journey to loving themselves is different, but anyone can reach that point of total and complete happiness with themselves and life. Use these five tips, self-care, and start working towards your path of happiness and love.