We talk and write a lot about how this current pandemic wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health. But have we really addressed how the isolation, stress, and uncertainty of these trying times affects how we feel about ourselves? I’m not just talking about how COVID-19 has affected depression, anxiety, and other disorders, either. I’m talking about how nearly SIX MONTHS of this mess has changed the way we see ourselves.
Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who have used the lock-down to complete a gazillion household projects, learned a new language, or baked thousands of loaves of bread. Or you may be one of those enterprising entrepreneurs who parlayed their job uncertainty into a lucrative side hustle, making more money than ever. It’s quite possible that you eat healthier, exercise every day, lost 50 pounds, and can now bench press your living room couch. You may even be proud of everything you’ve accomplished since mid-March, and your self-esteem is better than ever.
If this is you, then congratulations! And I mean that sincerely.
But, if you’re like me and millions of others, you’re more stressed, significantly fatter, and maybe even a little disgusted with how little you’ve accomplished since binge-watching The Tiger King back in the early days of this never-ending pandemic. And if you’re like us, your self-esteem has taken a beating. That’s why we all need to get back to practicing radical self-acceptance and self-care.
Radical self-acceptance doesn’t mean that you stop trying to improve yourself. It simply means that you love yourself as you are, flaws and all. It means you stop beating yourself up over the 17.7 pounds you’ve gained, and start embracing the fullness of your body. You can love yourself deeply and accept every inch our yourself fully, and still work at getting, looking, and feeling better.
Radical self-acceptance means that you’ll strive to do better today than you did yesterday, but also that you’re still proud of the person you were yesterday. It means that you love yourself out loud, because you can recognize where you need to improve, and still adore who you are right this minute
Speak affirmations to yourself throughout the day. Take time to pat yourself on your back for the little things you accomplish, as well as the big things. If all you managed to do today was the bare minimum of what you need to do to survive, then allow yourself enough grace for that to be okay. Be kinder to yourself. Give yourself a break. You really are doing the best you can at any given moment during any given day. And sometimes, that has to be enough.
When you get back to deeply accepting and loving yourself, you’ll no longer accept the things that don’t serve you. You’ll disengage from disrespectful and harmful people, and you’ll only embrace those who truly love and honor you. Some people will accuse you of being selfish when you love yourself enough to make YOU a top priority. They’ll resent your self-acceptance and confidence. But that’s okay. Let ’em go, Sis. Your real friends and family will be proud of you and encourage your self-love.
The people in your life who truly have your best interests at heart will celebrate your happiness and progress, not be jealous of it. So let those others go. They weren’t for you, anyway. Putting yourself first is an important step towards radical self-acceptance. Anyone who begrudges you that isn’t good for you.
You may not be where you thought you’d be by now, but you’re still here. And that’s something, especially during a pandemic. You’re here and you’re beautiful, and smart, and at ALL times, more than enough. Whether you’ve mastered working from home or not; if you’ve lost 20 pounds or gained them; or if you parlayed your side hustle into a well-paying job or you’re trying to survive on unemployment; you’re still here and you are amazing exactly as you are in this moment.
Don’t let the fallout from this pandemic or any of the other craziness happening in the world rob you of your self-esteem. Put yourself first, love yourself deeply, and accept who you are, flaws and all.
Stay safe out there and wear a mask!
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