1. Act like you're wearing an invisible crown
According to Shana Kad, a Dubai-based NLP life coach, you project how you perceive yourself onto everyone around you - so you may as well be regal. "If you make a conscious effort to feel good about yourself, you will inevitably attract this same energy into your life from the people around you," she says.
"Simple acts - like waking a little earlier each morning and giving yourself the time to enjoy your breakfast while visualising the way you want your day to play out - work wonders," she explains. "Be conscious of your state at all times, as it determines your behaviour, which in turn determines your results."
Show yourself love by getting at least eight hours of sleep each night, including the two hours before midnight if possible as some research suggests these hours are particularly important. According to Patricia Hope, founder of the website Towards Happiness (www.towards-happiness.com), sleeping well is important for our sense of wellbeing. She explains, "When we haven't had enough sleep, we may get irritable and not be able to concentrate. This is unlikely to make us feel good about ourselves. However, when we are sufficiently rested we perform to our optimum potential. Now this is certainly a good way to show love and kindness to ourselves."
To know your ‘self' is to love yourself, explains Dr Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist at The LightHouse Arabia (www.lighthousearabia.com). "It's important to know your ‘self' as ‘you' without the shell of your ego, fears and other defences you have developed over time," she says. To do this, she explains, you must separate the self from the ego, which entails being vulnerable, taking risks and loving others without reservation. This more often than not cannot be done without a psychologist, mentor or guide, who can point out your patterns and blind spots.
Meditation is an act of self-love, as it trains you to be present with your own mind and your moment-to-moment experiences, explains Tom Von Deck, corporate meditation trainer and author of Oceanic Mind - The Deeper Meditation Training Course (Create Space). He advises taking some timeout every hour, even if it's just for30 seconds, to slip into an activity that accumulates a little bit of presence and peace. "This can be stretching, praying... deep breathing, gratitude and many other things," explains Von Deck. "It will really add up behind the scenes, especially when you add in regular meditation. Suddenly, everything will just click, and you'll be a lot calmer and present with yourself, your thoughts and your feelings," he says.
5. Write happy thoughts about your life
Daylle Deanna Schwartz, author of How Do I Love Me? (available from howdoiloveme.com/the-book) suggests writing happy thoughts about your life (things you love about yourself and things you've accomplished) on Post-its and sticking them up somewhere visible, such as your fridge, bathroom mirror or computer screen. "Change them around so you see different ones in different places every few days. Every time you read something positive you'll feel good, smile more, and be reminded that life is good," she says.
Before you can forgive others, you need to learn to forgive yourself, explains Rawan Albina, a certified life coach based in Dubai. She says that you should remember events that have happened in the past that have left you feeling less than good and check in with your emotions. "Are there any negative residues there? If there are, don't try to understand them; simply accept that they are there," says Albina. "Acknowledging these emotions is the first step towards dealing with them because you then become aware of them. The next step is to stand in front of a mirror and say the following from the heart, ‘I love everything about me. I forgive myself for all past mistakes and accept these as part of my learning and growth'," she says.
7. Do a five-minute recap every night
Each night, when you climb into bed, aim to write down one thing you did that day that was 100 per cent in alignment with what you love doing. If you have more than one, write them all down. "This is a great exercise for being in a state of gratitude," says John Strelecky, best-selling author of The Big Five for Life: Leadership's Greatest Secret (St Martin's Press). "Often we focus on the negative parts of the day. Ending your night with that focus sets you up for more negativity the next day." If you have nothing to write at the end of the day, Strelecky advises you pick up a book you've been meaning to read and read for five minutes. Then pick up your journal and write ‘read a book for five minutes.' He says, "Knowing that at the end of the day there is this little ‘accountability moment' helps you align more of your activities with who you know in your heart you are. What may start off as one item per night quickly grows into a lengthy list."
You should regularly dedicate a whole day to doing what you truly enjoy, during which you do no chores or errands. "Plan your day ahead of time and think about what you'd like to do," says Daylle Deanna Schwartz. "Write it down and look forward to it, and remember this is your day to do what you please. Make plans with you as important as those you make with other people," she says.
Giving back to the community is a great way to boost your self-esteem. According to Dr Afridi, due the cultural collapse, loss of communities and rise of social media websites such as Facebook, we have forgotten we exist in a world and have a responsibility to it. "Any act of giving or loving actually pays back manyfold," she says. "If you feel unloved, go show love to someone else, if you feel lonely, go be a friend to someone else, if you feel hurt, go be a part of someone else's healing," she suggests.
Research has found that smiling helps increase serotonin (also known as the happy hormone), and is a vital component in the regulation of sleep, appetite and mood. By smiling at other people, you're also doing them a favour; researchers at The British Dental Health Foundation found that after participants were shown pictures of smiling individuals, their heart and brain activity was equivalent to what it would have been had they eaten 2,000 chocolate bars.