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"Your life is only ever as fulfilling as your relationships": 10 steps to help nurture your connection with yourself and others

We're all guilty of getting caught up in the demands of everyday life; whether it's work, family, social obligations etc. At different stages in time you may find it easier or harder to make the effort for certain things, depending what feels important to you. However, at the core of living a fulfilling life are the relationships we cultivate, especially the one we have with ourselves. Why? I'm sure you've heard people say 'If you don't love yourself, how do you expect others to?' It's true, how we feel about ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship in our lives.

After reading many self-help and healing books, I've taken the information that felt most helpful to me and tested it in my own journey. So, here are my 10 steps to building a healthy relationship with yourself and nurturing your connection with others:

  • Practice self compassion: I know you'll have heard this a thousand times before if you've looked into improving your wellness and I know it doesn't come naturally - it's definitely something I found extremely difficult at first. Don't let the uncomfortableness put you off. Perhaps you have become so used to the way you talk to yourself that anything different seems absurd but trust me, disrupting your negative thought patterns and behaviours is good; send a message to your brain that your thoughts are not reality. Remind yourself in the tough times that it's okay to make mistakes, that's how we learn. There are enough things in life to discourage us - let's try to be the support and comfort we need.

  • Prioritise self care: Self care isn't just about bubble baths and yoga. It's about setting aside time for activities that relax and recharge your mind, body and soul. If you don't know what those activities are yet, spend time getting to know yourself and what feels good for you. Whether it's reading a book, going for a walk in nature, sitting down in a calm space with a hot cup of tea, learning a new skill such as crochet, or simply sitting in silence, find out what resets your energy levels and then carve out time each week to do this.

  • Set realistic goals: When our goals are too big they can feel out of reach and difficult to know where to start, so we generally give up. Look up SMART goals for an effective way of breaking down goals into measurable achievements. When you follow this way of thinking it makes it easier to work towards your goals, which fills you with more encouragement, helping you to actually reach them. And don't forget along the way to celebrate your progress, no matter how small. This'll help build your confidence and self respect.

  • Reflect: I can't put into words how important reflection is when it comes to your healing journey. So much of our ability to change comes from learning and understanding our past by reflecting on our current thoughts and behaviours. Putting pen to paper can be a powerful tool to help you reflect, either by writing or drawing your thoughts, feelings and experiences. Talking to someone is another powerful way to instantly make you feel lighter and better understand yourself.

  • Communication is key: Having open, honest communication is at the heart of any healthy relationship. If you don't feel you can share your thoughts and feelings clearly with those around you, that is a sign that something isn't right. Dig deeper into why this is, it could be that you've realised that person isn't trustworthy and isn't someone you really want in your life anymore or it could be that you struggle with being vulnerable and sharing your inner most thoughts. In both situations it may be helpful to speak to a professional therapist to work out the best way for you to move forward and feel more at peace.

  • Quality over quantity: The older we get, the more we tend to realise that our circles get smaller and smaller. This is okay, it means that we value those deep connections rather than trying to spread ourselves too thin with multiple people. Spend quality time with people who uplift and support you.

  • Boundaries matter: Another one that many of us find very difficult yet made such a huge impact to my life personally. Setting and respecting boundaries is essential. Learning that it's okay to say no and to protect your personal space and time. It may be uncomfortable but the more you practise saying no, the easier it becomes and the more space you allow for the things in your life that are going to recharge you, rather than burn you out.

  • Show appreciation: Sometimes we can cling to the negatives, the things in our lives that aren't going to plan but actually, no matter how hard you have to look, there are many things to appreciate. Practice expressing gratitude for the people in your life, saying thank you out loud, in your head or on a piece of paper for everything that makes you smile, makes your life feel that bit easier or makes things more enjoyable, helps you to recognise the positives. Letting others know with small gestures that you see them and you appreciate them, can strengthen your bond.

  • Schedule time for yourself: We all have at least 20 minutes each day we can make for ourselves, whether that's 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night; it's important to carve out that time to regularly consider your own needs and do something to help ground you in the present moment. So much of our day is spent preparing for the future or worrying about the past that it's easy to loose ourselves with where we are actually at. Looking after our own needs means we are better able to look after our relationships with others.

  • Seek mutual growth: Engaging in an activity that you enjoy, whether it's a new hobby, a fitness goal or a shared interest with a partner, friend or relation; is an excellent way to strengthen your relationship with yourself and grow a connection with others. If you've lost touch of what's important to you or how to feel close to others, this is going to really help you build up your confidence and find likeminded individuals.

Building relationships

Balancing your relationship with yourself and others is an ongoing journey, these steps are by no means a quick-fix; however by learning how to build meaning into your life and how to look after yourself, you will create healthier relationships with others that will influence so much positivity and fulfilment around you.

Are there any more ways that you cultivate your relationship with yourself and others? Share your tips and experiences in the comments below and follow me on social media to see more related information and advice. Let’s support each other on this journey to healthier relationships and mental wellbeing.

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