Could you love yourself more? The divorce process took its toll on your love life, as you lost a partner who at one time vowed to love you unconditionally. But then things changed for one or both of you; however, that does not mean you are unloveable. In fact, it means you now need to love yourself even more.

We are all guilty of attributing a lot of our self-worth to outside validation like attention, admiration and approval from others. But people are incredibly self-focused. Your biggest critic is you. Your biggest champion is also you. Going through a divorce requires you to put more effort into loving yourself.

First things first. Do a self-esteem check. The American Psychological Association defines self-esteem as “the degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one’s self-concept are perceived to be positive.” It is closely tied to your physical self-image, view of your accomplishments and capabilities, and how you think you measure up to your values and what you perceive as “successful.” 

Everyone should check in on their self-esteem every now and then. But after going through a draining life event (really, more of a long-term process than an isolated event) like divorce, you are in serious need of self-love. Here are some ways to love yourself more and boost your self-esteem, backed by science.

Avoid triggers or set boundaries

That social gathering where you will be surrounded by judgmental couples? A song that makes you feel down about life? RSVP no and skip, skip, skip. One of the easiest ways to love yourself is to protect yourself from the things that make you feel bad. While you can’t avoid everything, you can say “no” or make adjustments for your comfort to most things.

Validate your thoughts and feelings—but don’t dwell on them

Sometimes you just need a good cry. Other times, venting your frustrations out loud is helpful. Your feelings, thoughts and insecurities are valid. It’s healthy to acknowledge them and give them proper consideration, especially if it helps you identify future goals. But know when to stop, too. If you’re ruminating on something painful for too long and those thoughts are no longer productive, move on. Distract yourself with something pleasant. Write them out and close the book. Do whatever it takes to not get stuck on the negatives.

Honor your accomplishments

Take the time to really celebrate every victory, small and large. From getting a chore done that you’ve been procrastinating on to receiving formal recognition for something you did, no win is too minor. Throw yourself a little party. Tell your friends. Congratulate yourself. There’s no shame in celebrating the things you are proud of, even if it seems insignificant in comparison. They are your victories and they deserve recognition on your scale.

Seek support

Even the most independent, introverted people need other people. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you want company or need to talk. Divorce can feel very lonely and you don’t have to go it alone. Call a friend, make plans to get together, or join a support group. Even just an online forum on Reddit might make a huge difference in feeling less alone. Connect with others who have been there or are going through the same things so that the emotional burden you’re carrying doesn’t get too heavy.

Treat yourself to something you don’t need (but want)

Don’t spend beyond your means, but something buying yourself a little something just for fun can do wonders to lift your spirits. A gift to yourself can be anything from your favorite takeout to something cute in the $1 bin at Target to a spa day. Here are a few of our favorite self-care gift ideas for inspiration.

Eat something nurturing

There’s a time and place for a bag of chips and a soda or glass of wine, but one big act of self-love is savoring a healthy meal. Bonus points if it’s homemade. Opt for clean, whole ingredients in a rainbow of colors, like fish and vegetables, a big salad, a bowl of soup, or a platter of veggie fajitas. Nurture your body with the foods that comfort and fuel you so that you can feel your best. And, of course, stay hydrated with water or herbal tea.

Write yourself a love letter

Maybe you wrote wedding vows at one point. Now, make them to yourself. So, your ex couldn’t fulfill them for eternity. It happens more often than not. But you can and should make some vows to love, honor and cherish yourself. So, in what ways do you expect to be loved? Write them out and promise to try your best each day to honor them. And, when you meet someone special you want to share your life with again (and you will), you’ll already have some pointers for them.

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