HEALTHY LIVING
30/09/2014 09:27 BST | Updated 06/12/2017 22:20 GMT

5 Science-Backed Reasons It's Important To Love Yourself

Betsie Van der Meer via Getty Images

When it comes to close relationships, by now we've probably got this whole "best friend" thing down pat. We give them a confidence boost when they don't feel their best. We're supportive of them when they fail at something. We encourage them when they're unsure of taking on new challenges. We're an all-around uplifting influence in their lives.

These positive behaviors toward our friends are probably as natural as breathing. So why is it so hard to do this for ourselves?

We rarely give ourselves the credit we deserve -- despite the fact that a plethora of research shows that if we treat ourselves with the same kindness we use on others, we'd live healthier and happier lives. Isn't it about time we turn that around?

Below are five ways loving yourself can improve your quality of life -- and a few habits you can practice in order to get there.

Accepting yourself can make you happier.

happy

Research suggests that self-acceptance could lead to greater satisfaction with your life -- but it's a habit that many people practice the least. In order to start seeing yourself the way your friends see you, try asking some of your close pals to share what they think are some of your strengths. Then return the favor. You'll get some insight into what stands out about you, and you'll feel happier about the kindness you displayed back.

It could encourage you to reach those health goals.

running outside

Self-compassion may be the motivation we need to get ourselves to the gym or to kick that smoking habit. Research published in the journal Health Psychology found that building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down can lead to better health decisions. One way to keep track of your goals (and reinforce the accomplishments you've already made) is by writing them down. Studies show that putting pen to paper helps your health and well-being -- in other words, you're doing yourself a favor by putting your accolades in writing.

Self-compassion may help with mental health issues.

depression

Studies suggest that those who have higher self-compassion are less at risk for developing depression or anxiety, the New York Times reported. Furthermore, research also shows that loving yourself has the potential to make you more optimistic, and students who place their self-worth on internal habits like moral values are less stressed and tend to perform better academically.

It can push you to stop procrastinating.

procrastination

We've all been there: We've got an approaching deadline... so it's time to binge-watch every episode of "Grey's Anatomy." The antidote? A little self-love. Research suggests that self-compassion can reduce the stress that causes us to procrastinate because it helps us recognize the downside of the habit without putting us in a negative thought spiral. If you're worried about completing a task (and putting it off as a result), try a little self-affirmation, which has been shown to increase problem-solving skills when you're stressed. Use some of these mantras to get started. You can do this.

Loving yourself can lead you through adversity.

hugging yourself

Life certainly has its peaks and valleys. But when we're on the downswing, a little self-love can help put you back on the up and up. A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that recently divorced individuals who spoke compassionately toward themselves were more able to bounce back in the months following the separation than those who spoke with self-criticism. So how do we start talking to ourselves in this way? Try some simple meditation, which may help give you a momentary boost in self-compassion.

This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.